>Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps at Big Bowl


Thursday is “out-to-lunch” for the creative team at my office and while we don’t all go all of the time, it’s a nice end-of-week tradition. This week a few of us patronized our local Big Bowl. Generally, as a foodie, I try to stay away from national chain restaurants and food places found in and around malls. This becomes complicated when I’m at work though, since I can see a large mall right out the window. Our office is just north east of downtown Minneapolis in one of the nicer and less-suburby-suburbs. It’s so close to my home, in fact, that it sort of astonishes me how suddenly the suburbs creep up on you. In any case, we are surrounded by food here and there are so many chains, its hard to avoid them all of the time. Big Bowl it was!
I hadn’t been to Big Bowl in years actually and I was a little surprised that they don’t have a lunch menu and that you can’t find an entrée under $11 at noon. I have no problem paying for good, delicious food that’s unique and prepared by a chef, but that just isn’t what comes to mind when I picture that big, red plastic bowl on the front of a Big Bowl restaurant. Especially shocking is a bowl of vegetarian pad thai! I’ve made pad thai countless times and you can make a batch of pad thai to feed ten people for under $5. Big Bowl has officially been entered into the same category in my mind as Noodles & Co. as an overpriced staple that I like eating but feel guilty for eating. Anytime I pay too much for something I can easily make myself, I feel guilt. A frugal foodie has to know what she can spend her dollars on and what she can’t. To compromise, I always order things at those places that I would never, ever make for myself because it’s either something Senor doesn’t like or too fussy for me to deal with.
End result: Lettuce Wraps.
from Big Bowl’s website
They really are delicious, even if they are pretty trendy. Big Bowl has a new Thai Beef variety that I thought it worth trying out. It was pretty good, wonderful flavor and there were tomatoes mixed in with my beef which was exciting. Less exciting was finding that the filling for my lettuce wraps contained, you guessed it, lettuce. I had three good-sized romaine hearts in with the meat. My chicken-ordering counterparts had far more meat than I did although I ended up paying more for mine. I know, beef is expensive. But do you really have to shove lettuce in the filling to take up all that room? I think in the future I’ll stick with the chicken (although it’ll probably be years before I go back and I doubt I’ll remember) because the chicken also had nuts in it which equals a win in my book.
I would have liked to create my own stir-fry ‘bowl’ but really didn’t feel like forking over $15 for a mall-food lunch. Especially when I can walk out of my house and arrive in front of Gangchen on Eat Street for some of the best Tibetan and Asian cuisine in the city. I know it’s fresh, it’s insanely cheap, and I can smell it from my front stoop. My lettuce wraps were tasty but I think I’m still committed to the hole-in-the-wall gems for now. I promise, a trip and review of Gangchen is never far off.

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