Caleb and Chris Amador have combined Southeast Asian flavors with the cuisines of Japan and Korea to create fresh and delectable rice bowls exploding with flavors and textures. Because they’re based in a food truck, they’re serving their bowls all over town — thus their business name.
Easily influenced, I try the lumpia once I see an order picked up by the person ahead of me. These are it. Long, only as big around as your finger, shatteringly crisp on the outside and filled with juicy, garlicky ground pork. They’re made fresh to order, and I’ve never had better lumpia. The miso-glazed salmon also calls to me. I’m astounded, and pleased, when Caleb asks how I want the salmon cooked, from rare to well-done. No restaurant has ever asked me that, and I opt for medium. From the base of perfectly cooked white rice to the crown of a big, flaky, tender piece of salmon, this bowl soothes and comforts. The light miso glaze, not overly salty, gives the fish a beautiful crust. Also nestling in the bowl: sautéed carrots with a bit of crunch, red onions, Napa cabbage and paper-thin slices of pickled ginger which offer a nice contrast.
The Korean galbi bowl features the same rice base, this time sporting thin, chewy slices of short rib on top. The beef, tender but chewy, has the galbi signature sweet/savory balance, rich with soy sauce umami but flirting with notes of onion, garlic and sesame oil. It’s messier to eat, since the large pieces don’t cut easily without a knife, but the flavor proves worth the sticky fingers. The jewels of this dish, though, are under the short ribs. Diced ripe mango, pickled red onion and shredded carrot, and cucumber kimchi bring a tangy, fruity, sweet and pungent punch to the flavor party, perfectly accenting the unctuousness of the beef while cutting through the richness.
Bowl in the City just opened in early September, but the high quality of food coupled with meticulous attention to detail bodes well for lasting success.