Neighborhood Restaurant Review: Big Bowl

While meandering around the streets of the Gold Coast, our Neighborhood Restaurant Reviewers got a hankering for some Asian food. While there are no shortage of great restaurants in the Gold Coast neighborhood, there are very few options when it comes to some great Asian food, but one neighborhood hot spot we knew we needed to check out was Big Bowl.
Big Bowl has been a fixture in the Gold Coast, located at Ohio & Rush. It’s hard to miss with the giant bowl of noodles and chopsticks protruding from their sign. With a handful of locations in Chicagoland, Minneapolis, and DC, Big Bowl specializes in Chinese and Thai food that’s made from fresh ingredients and local produce.
The menu of Chinese and Thai offerings always start from scratch – curry made from freshly roasted and ground spices, house-made chicken stock for soup and sauces, artisan wheat noodles and jasmine rice as well as salmon and seafood from sustainable sources.
We stopped in for lunch and were seated immediately. Although it was quite busy during the lunch hour, there were plenty of seating, and the atmosphere and ambiance felt very upscale, yet casual.
Our server was very helpful and guided us through their extensive menu, pointing out some of her personal favorites. She suggested that we order some of their home-made ginger ales and lemonades, and we were so glad we did. They were delicious and refreshing to us on a hot summer day. The ginger ale especially was unlike anything we had ever tasted before, made from fresh ginger and bursting with an unparalleled flavor.

We opted to start our meal with the Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps and a pot of their Hot & Sour Soup. The lettuce wraps came out quickly and were instantly a favorite with our Reviewers. A large portion of perfectly seasoned and spiced chicken was served alongside fresh Bibb lettuce with a side of crunchy noodles and BBQ Hoisin sauce. We could also turn up the heat on the sauce with chili oil and paste that was on our table. There was enough for our team of 3 to have 2 each and there was still a little but more to go around. The combination of the spicy chicken, cool lettuce, tangy sauce, and crunchy noodles was absolutely perfect.

The hot and sour soup is made fresh to order, like everything else on the menu, and was served up chock full of chicken, ground pork, and button mushrooms. It was the perfect compliment to our lettuce wraps and was very satisfying.

Tim opted for the Chicken Pad Thai, one of the signature dishes from the menu. With a bright, clean taste of fresh lemon and herbs, the combination of rice noodles, basil, eggs, sprouts, and peanuts with all-natural chicken was stellar. This wasn’t any ordinary take-out kind of Pad Thai, this was exceptional.

Dan tried the Kung Pao Chicken. Made with all-natural chucken, seasonal greens, blackened chilis, roasted peanuts, a sweet spicy sauce, and served up with jasmine rice, this was a flavor explosion. The spicy chicken and chilis along with the sweetness of the sauce, crunchy peanuts and greens made for a delicious dish that will definitely keep him coming back for more.

Jasko ordered the BBQ Chicken Fried Rice. Lightly sauteed Jasmine Rice was generously topped with all-natural chicken, hoisin-sweet BBQ sauce, bambook, shiitake mushrooms, and pea pods. With so many different flavors and textures, it was a stand-out.

In addition to other great lunch options, Big Bowl offers a Stir Fry Bar loaded with fresh produce, proteins, and sauces. You can fill your own bowl and chefs will stir fry your ingredients to perfection. If you have a group, Big Bowl has a great Group Share menu that allows you to choose from a great selection of salads, appetizers, and mains.
Our team ordered lunch portions of their entrees and left feeling very satisfied but not overly-full. For the price, it was an excellent lunch option that couldn’t be beat.
If you’re hungry for some fresh Asian/Thai food look no further than Big Bowl in the Gold Coast! Don’t forget to check out our other restaurant review at Standard Market Grill in Lincoln Park!

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