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Twin Cities: Do you Love or Hate or Just Yawn about BIG BOWL

  • m

Big Bowl is the pan asian chain with assorted chinese, thai, Indian

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  1. One vote for yawn. I have been there several times for work lunches. It is not terrible, but I think there are many better Asian options at better prices.

    1. I love the pot stickers and panang curry chicken. There aren't a lot of decent asian places in the northern burbs, and frankly, when in a pinch, BB in Rosedale is much quicker and easier to get to than any of the places in Mpls or St. Paul. Besides, I'd much rather do Big Bowl than PF Changs.

      1. I am not familiar enough with the suburbs to know where the good restaurants are, so when I find myself in Roseville, Edina or Minnetonka at lunch time I usually opt for Big Bowl. I usually order the Kung Pao Chicken, which is so-so. My husband has ordered a variety of spicy curry and stir-fry dishes, which he only rates as so-so.

        One more vote for yawn. It's not a *bad* restaurant, it's just nothing I crave.

        1. You could do a search for this board and substitute "cheesecake factory" for "big bowl" (and vice versa) and everything would still be pretty darned accurate.

          P.S. Within spitting distance of each Big Bowl restaurant is some very good asian food. Roseville - China Jen. Edina - Mandarin Kitchen. Minnetonka - Oragami West.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Danny

            I'm not sure how you figure that Mandarin Kitchen is anywhere near the Big Bowl - Edina and Bloomington are miles apart. In traffic it could be a half hour drive each way.

            Near the BB in Edina is Red Pepper - a Chinese place on 66th at Xerxes (I just love that Minneapolis has a Xerxes street!). I'm sure some of the dishes are better than some of the dishes at BB, but some probably aren't.

            Also note that there is now a Patrick's Bakery in Edina for a quick and tasty bite - in the same shopping center as Red Pepper.

            1. re: Loren3

              I'm not a geography expert, but I'd guess that Mandarin Kitchen is about 5 miles from Big Bowl at the Galleria

              1. re: ChefD

                I looked it up on google maps - 4.7 miles (9 minutes)

                Here's the map: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

                I don't see how it would ever take 30 minutes. (I think you could walk and still do it in less than 30 minutes.) But, if you want Chinese that is closer, Jun Bo is only 4.2 miles - and has dim sum all day every day. ( http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...


                P.S. That Patrick's is in Richfield, and is the original location - not any sort of expansion. (The newer locations are Wayzata and in Bachman's on Lyndale)

                1. re: Danny

                  Point noted, but even at 15 minutes each way (S. France and 494 traffic can get pretty bad on weekends), that's rather a long way to go and a lot of gas to spend to grab a quick Asian bite if you're already at the Galleria or Southdale. Same goes for Jun Bo, or First Wok, or Ketsana, or Kimson, or Sawatdee, all in the Bloomington area. This goes back to the perennial issue of answering the question at hand, which I took in this case to imply that there may be nearby alternatives to BB. Many people in the twins are convinced that Mandarin Kitchen may be the best Chinese in town, but again, it's not in S. Edina, which is where BB is. That's why, although not as good as Mandarin, I recommended Red Pepper as an alternative. It's only a couple of blocks from the Galleria BB.

                  And I was laboring under the delusion that Patrick's was an old established bakery in the twins, and that was a new addition. That one hasn't been there for more than a few years.

                  1. re: Loren3

                    FWIW, i think the Big Bowl at Lunds just south of the Galleria is better than the Big Bowl in the Galleria. Maybe its because they do more volume so everything is fresher.

          2. Well, this may compromise any reputation I've established so far, but I have to be honest.

            Most of what I've had there has just been ho-hum - nothing really bad, but nothign that would really draw me back. However, there are a few menu items I really crave from time to time, and which have even made BB a destination (you know, instead of a place to settle for when you are starving at the mall). Specifically their dumplings, potstickers (the non-vegetarian ones), and ginger ale (or the gin gin cocktail if you want to have a little more fun) just thrill me. I also had a very good teriyaki salmon entree last time I was there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: diesel

              I admit it: I crave their spicy stringbean appetizer from time to time.
              This is like AA: very cleansing. The first step is admitting you have a problem. My higher power is Satay2Go.

              1. re: AliceS

                If you find yourself in the Warehouse District, try the Szechuan green bean appetizer at the Monte Carlo. I'm not kidding - they're great!

            2. I agree diesel sometimes you just want to fill up with out the worry of huge dissapointmet. I go there but don't tell any one.
              sometimes you just need to practice safe food when your in the wilderness.

              1. We go if we happen to be at the mall during lunch time - husband loves it =) But the last time this happened was over 6 months ago (we try to avoid malls)... when it happens, i join him without complains, as some of the dishes are pretty good, but definitely not all.
                Wasn't there a note on the Strib about a new chef or some sort of turnaround? Last week's Taste it said that one of their dishes was a "top 10 unforgetable dish of 2006": "Big Bowl: A high- fidelity hot and sour soup -- singing with pork and vinegar -- embodies the welcome culinary turnaround at this Asian-focused chain."

                1. If we are down at Southdale or the Galleria for some reason and become famished, Big Bowl and the Good Earth are both handy places to get some decent, real food that isn't utterly overpriced. Are they fabulous or special? No. Are there many better Asian places in the area than Big Bowl? Yes, of course. Would I rather go to either place than Ruby Tuesday? You betcha.

                  1. I think Big Bowl generally executes what they do well. The dishes might not be "traditional" and they definitely aren't avante garde, however they are comforting and good. Put me in the "Yawn+" group.

                    When eating at chains, the only thing I am really looking for is consistancy. Consistancy and the ability to not salt everything to death. I do not delude myself into thinking I will taste something new or interesting at Big Bowl, however I also don't expect my meal to be a mystery.

                    1. I like Big Bowl. They're ingredients are always fresh, they don't put a lot of "filler" (canned bamboo shoots and watrer chestnuts) in their dishes, and they use citrus juice which gives their food a fresh flavor. It may not be "authentic" chinese, but I think it tastes good.

                      1. My hubby and I used to be BB fanatics, however, this has recently changed. We're in the Chicago area (Wheaton) and when I was first introduced to BB there was one located about two blocks away. So, as you can imagine, we made it our place to go when we weren't in the mood to cook at home. This place was shortly shut down and to this day we're not sure why. Now if we get in the BB mood, we travel about 25 minutes north to Schaumburg or hit up the one downtown Chicago. Our last two visits have been very disappointing. In Schaumburg just last week, our rice was mush. And, the food has been very bland. Maybe I'm just BB'd out, but please add another "yawn" for my vote.

                        I'd rather have Pei Wei, which is PF Changs' vehicle for casual dining/fast food experience. Unfortunately, there are none in the Chicago area, so we only get to have it when visiting friends in Nashville and Cali.

                        1. I guess its alright if you like americanize asian food. For me its a Big Yawn.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tingerbell

                            all food made in america is americanized.

                            1. re: FishMPLS

                              i know its hard to believe but "no".

                          2. I think Big Bowl is mostly so-so. I've got a major number of friends who would rather go there or say, TGIFridays, than seek out something small and unique. (Boy do I sound like a snob.) I have one friend who loves Big Bowl more than any other restaurant. His favorite part of dining there is the create your own stir fry.

                            Are there any other places like that in the Twin Cities (besides Khans) that offer that?

                            1. Big Bowl is a big yawn to me, even though about what 3-6 months they claimed to have re-vamped their menu? If I am going to do that type of restaurant over a "more authentic chinese or asian restaurant", I'd have to say I'd choose PF Changs, Pei Wei or heck, even chin's asia fresh over BB.

                              I see a few posts about Red Pepper and though I've always gotten take out, they have been consistent on most of the entrees and apps I have ordered.

                              1. I have been many times, for lunch, dinner and just to sit at the bar and have a drink or two. I go to the Rosedale location. It's never consistent but there are a few items that you know will be pretty good. I enjoy the 'build your own' stir fry bar as you can pick what you want for your veggies and skip the fillers like bean sprouts and water chestnuts. Service can be either 'in your face' or 'non existent' but mostly has been OK. Since the Granite City Pub and the AMC theater has gone up there, parking is a b!tch and pre-movie crowds are overwhelming. I love authentic asian and thai foods but my husband is not it's biggest fan. He will, however, eat at BB.

                                1. I don't think it's bad, I don't think it's great. I think it's a bit overrated.

                                  1. I like it, but I don't love it. Being somewhat picky about veggies, I like the fact that I can pick what I like, and get exactly what I want. Whenever I crave fresh veggies, I'll go to Big Bowl. If I'm just craving asian food in general, I go elsewhere.

                                    I go to the one in Rosedale on occasion, and the atmosphere is nice. I took a friend to lunch there the other day, and we both had a very pleasant dining experience, if not original.