ACAI, POKE, GRAIN, & MORE: THE HEALTHIEST BOWLS SYDNEY HAS TO OFFER

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SARA SWIRSKI

SEP 26, 2019

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IMAGE VIA CULTURE BEAN | FACEBOOK

We’re big believers in the power of a superfood breakfast or nourishing lunch as the basis for a good day. And, whatever your vibes—savoury or sweet—we’re all agreed that 11 times out of 10, it almost always tastes better in bowl formation. Lucky for us, more healthy meal-in-a-bowls than ever are popping up on Sydney’s menus. And just in case you were wondering where to start, we’ve scoured the city for its most worthy, spoon-dunking “bowls with benefits”.

Get your fill of all the happy, hippie vibes at this organic eatery, which also nabbed the title of Sydney’s best café a few years back. Lunch-goers flock here for the classic Ora Bowl: a mix of crazy-fresh greens, seeds, sprouts, ferments, dips, and roasted pumpkin — plus an addition of either halloumi or avocado (your choice). Then there’s the healing bowl of Kitchari Dahl with quinoa and mung bean, simmered in bone broth and drizzled with ghee; it’s spectacular all year round. Open every day from 7am, breakfast bowls are a thing here too. Check out the baked oatmeal specials, a super-nutritious bircher muesli, or the Green Brekkie Bowl. Good luck making a decision here; it’s gonna be hard!

Honouring its slogan for simple, honest, goodness, the menu at this Northern Beaches café is packed with colourful, health-boosting bowls. Settle into the boho interiors and tuck into one of the five fruit-based smoothie bowls that are available all day, such as the Mango Macadamia, hot pink Pitaya, or Peanut Butter Choc Bowl. As you’d expect, they come brimming with healthy toppings for that essential crunch (and Instagram) factor. Arriving “later”, as Girdlers puts it? No problem! The wholesome Nourish and Harvest bowls might just become your new favourite afternoon fix, packed with vegetables, grains, and seasoning. And take it from us: the house dressings are an absolute game-changer. However, don’t get too attached to one item… the menu usually changes every six months or thereabouts.

Keeping it real is Bare Naked Bowls, the reliable neighbourhood superfood eatery with four Sydney shops. There’s a bowl here to suit every mood. Smoothie bowls? You got it. Breakfast and porridge bowls? Of course. Organic acai bowls? Absolutely! It’s what they’re known for, and at last count, there were eight acai combos alone. BNB’s bright, bold bowls run deep and bring the basic, earthy interiors to life. Come here for innovative blends, top-of-the-range, health-boosting powders (like blue spirulina), and a feel-good experience knowing that a percentage of every order is donated to one of their chosen charities.

Fresh, healthy, and deliciously savoury bowls are what this vegan cafe is all about. Open for lunch, you’ll find it in Surry Hills (the largest), Barangaroo (the smallest) and Manly (the nicest, in our opinion, because it stays open all day, even for dinner). The menu of eight, 100% plant-based bowls—split between four raw salads and four warm options—change seasonally, so there’s no chance of getting bored. As of this writing, we can’t get enough of the Raw Rad Thai, with its zesty, house-made satay dressing, and the Tijuana Mexican-style bowl, with warm chilli beans, rice, and salad toppings. Oh, and did we mention that you can BYO bowl (or tupperware) for takeaway? How cool is that? Fitt Tip: Ask for a loyalty card because you’ll be returning... a lot.

Inspired by both California and the Golden Coast, this little café with luxe interiors is recognised as one of the originals of Sydney’s acai scene. Known initially for its cold-pressed juices, the brand now has six cafes, each kitted out with high-top stools, grab-and-go fridge food, and Allpress coffee. Head here for a short selection of signature acai bowls, some which come blended with their own signature, cold-pressed Popeye green juice. The even bigger selection of salads and warm bowls on offer pack in some grilled protein, but take note: those are only available in the CBD. With Cali Press, when you’re craving the healthiest snack, whether it’s acai or salads, you’ll literally be eating the rainbow.

Calling all poke-lovers! If you’re in need of healthy fast-food, FISHBOWL is ALL bowls plus plenty of action. Each FISHBOWL has serious personality, having been designed using a local architect, and every sauce is made from scratch, so you know they’ve got community and healthy credentials covered. With two bowl sizes and 11 “Fishbowl Favourites” to choose from, you can make it vegan, choose a cooked protein instead of raw fish, or, for the pickier eaters, a build-your-own-bowl option. Fitt Tip: Keen to join your local FISHBOWL community? Check out their Facebook page for details on upcoming events, such as the popular run club.

You’ll probably know this Surry Hills and York St CBD street-side café for brewing some of the best coffee in town. But it might come as a surprise to know they’re in the bowl game too. York St’s fare includes a few famous veg or meat stews, plus an occasional bowl-based special. But the menu fixture that the Surry Hills café truly nails is the mother of all bowls. Seriously, it’s in the name! Nutrient-rich, the Mothership Bowl is loaded with grains & seasonal veg, including fermented cabbage, marinated mushrooms, smoked pumpkin & almond cheese, chard, avo, and mustard cauliflower, then topped with poached eggs… need we say more? It’s #nourishmentgoals with solid coffee to match. Just be prepared to queue for weekend brunch.

Kudos to anyone who can get past the insane-sounding sandwich list at this tiny Potts Point hangout. But, if you like your rice bowls flavourful, porridge sweet, greens piled high, and your protein plentiful, then your efforts WILL be rewarded. The innovative salad bowls—six and counting—are possibly our favourite; they’re all winning combos and arrive overflowing. The inventive Broccoli Salad, with cranberries and a zesty jalapeño & lime dressing, is one of the most popular, but if you’d rather keep things simple, you won’t regret ordering the Classic Salad that gets just as much effort put into it by the kitchen team. The protein add-ons are generous in size (do order those), and most salad bowls include a side of toast too, so there’s absolutely zero chance of going hungry.

Serving up wholesome bowls with values (and falafel waffles, too), this casual café in Newtown is organic, ethical, and sustainable. Smoothie bowls arrive in repurposed coconut shells, whilst signature curries and mood-boosting salads come in certified-Fair Trade dishware. And as for the food? Well, it’s vegan (with vegetarian extras available), 100% refined sugar-free, and they only use coconut oil for cooking. Choose between the Green Brekky or Blue Algae bowls in the morning or a mix of savoury bowls at lunch — all are guaranteed to supercharge your daily veggie intake. Even the smoothies here can be sized-up from a glass to a bowl. Just hope you don’t get Buddha Bowl cravings on a Sunday (the only day it’s closed).

Looking for an un-pho-gettable hot bowl fix? This market stall turned restaurant is always buzzing with customers, thanks to its steamy, knockout bowls of Vietnamese pho. The menu is easy to navigate and features Vegan Fuh (the phonetic spelling of pho) as well as the regular Chicken or Rare Beef noodle soups. And, if you’re feeling brave, you can bulk up your bowl with tendons, tripe, and/or meatballs for just an extra $1. As you’d expect, the kitchen makes all its aromatic broths from scratch using spices such star anise and cinnamon. The wafting aromas make for an altogether cosy experience in the space, which is kept purposely bare and stripped back to make sure the comforting bowls of ‘fuh’ really are the stars of the show. If you do like a little more comfort, you might prefer to visit airy Darlinghurst, or the newest Chatswood Eat Fuh, which is a touch more glam than the Marrickville original. Thankfully, they also still pop up at markets across the city, too.

Culture Bean in Kogarah has built up a cult-like for its sorbet-like acai bowls. This humble corner cafe blends its Amazonian berries to perfection, and according to many, these are the best bowls of acai you’ll taste in Sydney. In contrast to the hipster but homely vibes of this independent cafe—exposed brick walls plus plenty of hanging plants—everything that comes out of the kitchen looks like a piece a pop art, creative and colourful. But be warned: the menu here is huge and split between cold, hot, and regular dishes, plus there’s a pastry counter too… so bring your appetite. With all the choice, this busy and bustling hangout can be a squeeze at the weekend, but that’s part of its charm. Thankfully, there’s outdoor seating and streetside parking close by.

Just a few blocks from the beach in Newport, Rukus Cafe opens up their plant-filled cafe to the neighbourhood. Serving Kingdom Coffee and all-organic food, they already score high marks from us, but their trifecta of smoothie bowls is hard to top. Between the Tango Bowl (raspberry and mango base), Green Bowl (banana, avocado, and spinach), and Cacao Bowl (banana, cacao, and dates for sweetness), you’re truly spoilt for choice!

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