Is the price worth the healthy meal of an açai bowl?
November 9, 2022
The açai bowl was founded in the 1980s by Carlos Garcie, a Brazilian martial artist that specialized in jiu jitsu. Garcie created these bowls to maximize his fighters’ performances. Soon it drew the attention of public civilians that wondered what his students were eating to look slim and fit. It made its way to California and Hawaii first and was popularized by surfers.
An açai bowl is essentially a thick smoothie topped with oats, fruits or peanut butter. The ingredients in these bowls are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, have no added sugar and are bursting with vital vitamins and minerals.
Heights Herald Staff Writers Heaven Gg and Ji Qi Ni visited the new Northeast Minneapolis restaurant Nautical Bowls to try their assorted flavors of açai bowls. Walking in, açai bowl enthusiast Gg knew she would enjoy the experience, while Ni was more skeptical due to the price. Read on to find out what they both thought!
Delicious meal provides several worthwhile benefits
Healthy and delicious is, in fact, possible.
Nautical Bowls is an açai fast-casual restaurant, originally located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. With 104 locations, 39 of them being in Minnesota, the franchise is quickly becoming known across the state and beyond. Their meals are pleasing to the eye with bright colors and an appealing presentation, and they’re also a healthy snack.
Their most popular bowls are the Paddle Bowl and the Sunrise Bowl. The Paddle Bowl includes Blue Majik (an algae-based antioxidant powder), mango, coconut, granola, strawberries, coconut flakes and honey, while the Sunrise Bowl has Blue Majik, pitaya, granola, banana, strawberries and honey.
“‘You are what you eat’ rings true around here and when you eat Nautical Bowls, you are being filled with powerful antioxidants,” the Nautical Bowls website states.
The restaurant also offers dairy-free, gluten-free, plant-based and refined sugar-free products. In addition, they also offer detailed information on their website about their ingredients and how they benefit you.
“The atmosphere at Nautical Bowls is just so happy, so fun and energetic, and the founders really want everyone who works here to be committed to what our purpose is,” Wajd Sulinan, a worker at Nautical Bowls at the Dinkytown Minneapolis location said. “Our purpose is bringing superfoods, healthy lifestyles [to customers], but also still enjoying the food you want to enjoy because honestly, everything here at Nautical tastes like ice cream to me. It feels good to know that what you’re eating is good for your body and not something you’re going to regret later.”
Oh, and it’s super filling!
By the end of this year, CEO Peter Taunton “expects 40 stores to be open and 125 territories to be awarded by the end of 2022, and 120 stores open and 250 territories awarded by the end of 2023” as reported by Brianna Kelly of the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal in June. They have thus already exceeded their expectations with new locations continuing to open nationwide.
Based on this buzz, I decided to seek out Nautical Bowls to see what it was like, and my experience was great. Right as you walk in, the staff greets you and makes you feel welcome. The environment is nice and quiet, very clean and neat with beautiful decorations.
I tried one of their most popular bowls—the Paddle Bowl. I would recommend this bowl if you like piña colada-flavored drinks or desserts because that is exactly what it reminded me of. Honestly, it did really taste like ice cream but minus all the added sugars.
I would say this is my new favorite acai place compared to others I have tried like Honor Cafe. First off, nautical bowls had visual representations of what their bowls looked like unlike Honor and they had various sizes in bowls. They also had a bigger selection for flavors.
I can honestly now understand all the talk that Nautical Bowls has received. This is Heaven-recommended!
Even with upsides, this healthy snack is too pricey to enjoy
The idea of eating bowl foods has quickly risen in popularity in the past several years. Bowl eating, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, not only represents a more contemporary, informal style of dining but also fits well with the ‘fast-casual’ need for foods that can be consumed quickly. As one of the American values is efficiency, consuming a tasty treat within minutes is the American way.
Others and I are hesitant to order these dishes, like the ones at Nautical Bowls, simply because we think it is overpriced for the amount you are getting.
“The açai bowls are very overrated,” Linus Lee (12) said. “The taste is pretty good, but for the portion size you are getting, for how much you are paying for, it’s a rip-off. You’re paying way too much money for way too little quantity.”
After receiving a 12-ounce Sunset Bowl for $10 at Nautical Bowls, I felt like I overpaid too. Yes, the bowl can come with fresh fruits, peanut butter, honey, granola, almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, mango base, cacao base, açai base and more, but all these ingredients can be store-bought and homemade with more servings per dollar spent.
Compared to the majority of other berries that are sweeter in flavor, açai contains a more earthy flavor. It has been characterized as having a hint of acidity with an almost dark chocolate undertone, as well as notes of raspberry, pomegranate and even a dash of soil. The berries’ strong acidity makes it a wonderful match for sweeter fruits, honey or other sweets. Others and I imagined, before our trip to Nautical Bowls to see what the fuss was all about, the açai bowl tasting like mush and dirt.
“When I went to Nautical Bowls, I got the Blue Bay bowl with coconut taken off of it, but overall I’d have to say it was a little bit of a letdown,” Angelina Gonzalez (12) said. “I thought it was just me, so I had my friend try it as well and she agreed with me. Compared to other places that serve açaí bowls, it’s decent, but it’s definitely not the best, especially for its price. I think it’s definitely something that you could make at home and have a better outcome.”
After trying the Sunset Bowl for myself, my initial thoughts were that it doesn’t taste bad. It tasted fresh and vibrant. It was like eating a scoop of colors. The bowl was also sweeter than I had imagined. The ube (a purple yam that originated from the Philippines) base really elevated the bowl itself. . Ube has a similar taste and texture as a sweet potato, but tastes even sweeter than one. I do enjoy other types of ube foods—therefore, the bowl tasted great.
Preparing a bowl at home would be a lot cheaper because you are able to make more than one. All you really need is a smoothie blender to blend the base of your bowl. Fresh Fruits and toppings can be found at a local grocery store that gives you more than one serving. Spending extra money for someone to prepare the bowl is not worth the expense.
At the end of the day, it really depends on who you are and what you order. You are able to customize the bowl to the liking of your taste buds, so anyone can find their niche. Just be aware that the bowl you ordered may be a bit more than what you had in mind.