(SHAPE SINGAPORE) - These protein bowls are not just pretty to look at, but will have you feeling well and full.
Dosirak means lunchbox in Korean and is traditionally shakened to mix the components in it. The fuss-free eatery is opened by brothers Eugene and Edward Chia, who are of Singaporean-Korean descent. At Dosirak, you get to pick your protein, carbs and veggies, which are served in a cute plastic container. Add the given sauce into the container, pop the lid back on and give it a good shake.
Protein options include beef bulgogi and soya sesame chicken. Besides making your protein bowl from scratch, you can opt for a standard bowl from the menu, which offers vegetarian-friendly Kimchi & Tofu, as well as the signature Beef Bulgogi.
Recently halal-certified, Dosirak has also expanded its menu, offering soups such as Doenjang, a Korean soya bean paste soup. Korean teas such as citron tea are also available.
WHERE: 01-44 Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way; open: 11am to 7pm (Mondays to Fridays), 11am to 3pm (Saturdays)
PRICE: $8.90 to $15.90 for a serving
INFO: Call 6536-6034 or go to www.dosirak.com.sg
Located at a corner of Downtown Gallery, this bicycle-themed cafe attracts a healthy lunch crowd. The 70-seater was almost at full capacity when we arrived at 12.30pm, so come earlier or later to avoid waiting.
The choice of protein here is extensive, ranging from the crowd-favourite BBQ Pulled Pork to Teriyaki Grilled Squid. We picked the Slow Cooked Sea Bass and chose broccoli, mixed mushrooms and onsen egg as toppings, plus quinoa as the base. Other base options include brown rice and romaine lettuce.
The portion size did not disappoint and neither did the taste. The sea bass was pan-seared to perfection, boasting a crispy skin and fork-tender flesh. Every other ingredient was well prepared, but the broccoli was our unanimous favourite: fragrant and crunchy without being hard.
While waiting for your food to be served, check out the racks of bikes and extensive bike equipment displayed. They lend an interesting touch and will get bike enthusiasts excited.
WHERE: 01-01 Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way; open: 10am to 9pm (Mondays to Fridays), 7am to 3pm (Saturdays)
PRICE: $8 to $14 for a bowl
INFO: Call 6909-3606
Wheat Baumkuchen is a no-frills eatery that offers a range of protein bowls, such as Dolphin (soba and grilled prawns) and Penguin (soba and shredded chicken) But what we really like is its signature Salmon Soba, which has a grilled salmon fillet sitting atop a bed of lettuce and cha soba noodles, with an onsen egg served on the side. The chilled, chewy noodles go well with the warm, flaky salmon.
All the dishes on the menu are below 500 calories, approved and certified by the Health Promotion Board.
If you are keen on making your own bowl, go for the design-your-own-bowl option. Pick your protein, carbs, toppings and sauce, and your meal will be ready in as fast as five minutes. Our favourite combination: soba, grilled salmon, onsen egg, mushroom and kimchi. This is flavourful enough so you can go without a sauce. If you want to go meatless, pick the no-meat bowl ($10) where you will have a choice of four toppings instead of two. Vegans, go for protein-rich toppings like sunflower seeds and chickpeas.
WHERE: B1-32 One Raffles Place, 1 Raffles Place; and B1-78 Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Road; open: 7am to 10pm (Mondays to Fridays), 10.30am to 4pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
PRICE: $8-$16 for protein bowls
INFO: Call 6443-3391
The Daily Cut
Another popular lunch spot, The Daily Cut is known for cooking its meats upon taking orders so you can get a fresh, wholesome meal.
As seats are limited, it is a good idea to order to-go. The Daily Cut has a concise menu. Just grab an order sheet and choose from seven proteins, five carbs and 17 add-ons to fill your bowl. Popular protein options are the Cajun Chicken and Skirt Steak. If you are into fish, choose from tilapia or salmon fillet. The protein options are updated every three months – something regulars will look forward to.
WHERE: B1-31 One Raffles Place, 1 Raffles Place; B2-16 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street; 1 Fusionopolis Place; open: 11am to 3pm and 6 to 8.30pm (Mondays to Fridays), 11am to 3.30pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
PRICE: $9 to $18 for a bowl
INFO: Call 6288-6264
Harvest is a salad-cum-protein bowl cafe that opened six months ago, after co-founder Jamie Wong could not find a place in the east to have a healthy post-workout meal. All protein items at Harvest are prepared via the sous vide method – they are vacuum-sealed and cooked in temperature-controlled water to retain the nutrients.
Salmon and steak are the most popular choices. There is also silken tofu to cater to non-meat eaters.
The menu here is straightforward – choose the standard $12 portion (one protein, one grain, three veggies, one topping and a sauce) or top up for premium options. Need a drink? Choose from its wide range of cold-pressed juices.
WHERE: 81 East Coast Road; open: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily
PRICE: From $12 for a protein bowl
INFO: Call 8715-1625 or go to https://www.harvestsg.com/
At Wafuken, the protein items are the highlight. All meats are cooked sous vide to perfect tenderness. The salmon we had was silky, buttery and melt-in-the-mouth. And we love that the fish skin is flame-torched for a smoky, umami flavour.
We paired salmon with soba, soya sauce-lemon juice dressing, grilled asparagus and wakame and cucumber salad ($17). This refreshing combination makes a great lunch option that will not give you a food coma.
Also try the chicken breast, which is surprisingly moist and tender. Order the Half Breast portion ($4) – enough to fill a hungry tummy – with the donburi option ($4) of rice, onsen egg, daikon and red cucumber pickles.
WHERE: 02-23 Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way; 02-05 Asia Square Tower 2, 12 Marina View; open: 11am to 8pm (Mondays to Fridays), 11am to 3pm (Saturdays) and closed on Sundays
PRICE: From $8 (for a bowl with a protein and three sides)
INFO: Go to http://www.wafuken.com/
This three-month-old cafe is a chic hangout at Holland Village, serving protein bowls, soups and desserts. It is a cosy place with 80 seats and a couple of standing tables in front of the food counter.
The protein here is cooked in sous vide style – great for those who like fresh and light-tasting food. Our favourite is the chicken served with seasoned couscous, which reminded us of a healthier version of Hainanese chicken rice. Underneath each chicken slice is a small piece of ginger to elevate the taste.
One of the staff recommended that we choose a chilli sauce from Superfudo’s chilli bar to complement the chicken dish. The chilli bar offers a range of chilli, from sriracha sauce to cincalok (fermented small shrimps with chilli), that customers can help themselves to.
We also love the Meaty Oxtail Soup ($5), hearty and generously filled with fork-tender beef and soft carrot and potato cubes. If there is room for dessert, try the Matcha Bingsu ($5) served in a cup. For that price, it is quite a steal.
WHERE: 15 Lorong Liput, Holland Village; open: 10am to 10pm daily
PRICE: From $5 for a bowl
INFO: Go to https://www.facebook.com/superfudo.sg/
Kitchen By Food Rebel
Nestled between Cecil Street and Telok Ayer Street, this understated cafe-bistro is easy to miss. But walk in and you will be rewarded with a plethora of appetising choices.
Priding itself on using ingredients that are organic, hormone-free, sustainable and locally produced, Kitchen by Food Rebel manages to make every dish a foodie highlight on its own. The Vegan Sweet Potato & Chickpea Bowl ($19), though meatless, is screaming protein and good fats, satisfying even the veggie-haters. We cannot get enough of the lip-smackingly tasty beetroot-flavoured hummus, the moreish tofu-avocado mash and how all the ingredients – including quinoa – when combined together, result in an interesting texture.
Another bowl not to be missed: Thai-Inspired Quinoa ($16). It may be classified under the salad section, but it is a far cry from the cold, raw-tasting salad you might expect. Boasting hues of purple, red, yellow and green, this is a delightful combination of beetroot-flavoured quinoa, tomatoes, bell peppers, purple cabbage and mixed leaves, infused with lemongrass and lime leaves for an unsurpassably aromatic treat to the taste buds.
There are plenty of vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free options. With its smart selection and combination of ingredients, this is one of the best places to take sceptical foodies who do not believe that healthy and tasty food can coexist.
WHERE: 28 Stanley Street; open: 8am to 6pm (Mondays to Fridays)
PRICE: $6 to $19 for a bowl
INFO: Call 6224-7088
Touting itself as the place for ang moh chap chye peng (economy rice), Grain Traders has set the bar high for grain bowl concepts with its first outlet at the CapitaGreen building. Think large, light-filled spaces that are roomy enough to give every diner his or her personal room, while still keeping lunch catch-ups cosy and intimate.
And the food looks like it is right out of a Kinfolk spread: Everything is fresh, vibrant, healthful and appetite-rousing.
You can go the D-I-Y route just like you would at a chap chye peng. For $16, you pick one grain, one protein, one hot veg, two cold veggies, one topping, and one sauce; better yet, pay $2 more for a drink and a snack.
Under the Grains segment, there is bulghur wheat, quinoa, brown rice, soba, Japanese rice and a mix of greens. And its options for proteins is simply mouth-watering: sous-vide and char-grilled salmon, slow-roasted pork, and vegetarian-friendly lentil patty, just to name a few. The charred furikake corn is wicked and we are also partial to the tangy apple kimchi and its mixed bean pico de gallo.
Then you have toppings such as furikake, toasted crushed rice, crispy garlic and shallots; and lip-smacking sauces such as beetroot-feta-yogurt, miso caramel, coconut curry, and tamarind chipotle vinaigrette.
The wide selection and the I-want-everything syndrome often leaves us gobsmacked and staggering under the weight of decision-making. We find it much easier to leave the task of flavour combination magic to the experts and trust in their Hero Bowls. There are six of these signature bowls on the regular menu, and occasionally one or two more specials.
Our top vote goes to Upstream ($16): gorgeous, char-grilled salmon with a perfect pink, zingy pickled cucumbers and caramelised cubes of roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes over a green bed of kale and spinach.
WHERE: 01-03 100AM Mall, 100 Tras Street, open: 8am to 8pm (Mondays to Fridays), 11am to 8pm (Saturdays and Sundays); 01-01 CapitaGreen, 138 Market Street, open: 8am to 8pm (Mondays to Fridays)
PRICE: From $16 for a bowl
INFO: Go to www.grain-traders.com
The brain child of The Astronauts Group – which also owns Babette Restaurant & Bar – Ninja Bowl took over the Duxton Road space where Department of Caffeine used to sit.
The name is also a nod to the Japanese-inspired menu where its donburi-style “Ninja Bowls” take centre stage. The names follow the theme, with dishes such as Tsukiji ($16) – pan-seared tuna tataki with crunchy asparagus and edamame, topped with a wobbly onsen egg – and Buta ($14), which is layered with thick slices of house-cured and charred pork belly, ume-pickled apples, roasted pumpkin, and that all-enhancing onsen egg.
Our favourites were the Noka ($14), which means “The Farmer” in Japanese, and the Genki ($16). The former is every bit as hearty as it sounds, laden with fork-tender chunks of 24 hour-braised beef cheek, and triply umami with baby corn in red-and-white miso dressing as well as sun-dried tomatoes. You have also roasted pine nuts for crunch and an onsen egg.
Genki is lighter on the palate with pickled beansprouts and pickled beets for a zippy tang, and a slab of silky, caramelly grilled eel.
Do note that these rice bowls are carb-free by default, but you can add on quinoa for $3. Alternatively, top up $2 for your choice of orzo pasta (they look very similar to rice, with a more al dente texture), Ninja rice (a seaweed-flaked mixture of vinegared Japanese rice and brown rice), or garden greens.
WHERE: 15 Duxton Road; open: 9.30am to 9pm (Mondays to Fridays); 9am to 6pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
PRICE: $16 for a bowl
INFO: Call 6222-8055 or go to www.ninjabowl.com.sg
Sprout Salad Bar
This hideaway salad shop on the other end of Duxton Road may have leapt to fame on founder @pooburr‘s social media clout, but it has definitely come to its own on the merit of its salad and grain bowl offerings.
The minimalist nook’s differentiating factor is that a lot of its items are designed to meet one or more specific diets: vegetarian, gluten-free, and/or dairy-free. The menu is a concise selection of 10 signature salads and grain bowls, but do not mistaken that they are dismal, dainty and bland choices.
Take, for instance, the dairy-free Beef & Broccoli Bowl ($18.90). It is loaded with quinoa, steamed broccoli and carrots in a simple ginger-garlic sauce, tender strips of seared sirloin, and a soft-cooked egg for good measure. Granted, the number of ingredients is a bit fewer than say, Grain Traders, but you will not actually notice that once you tuck in, thanks to the the generous portion and colourful flavours.
If you would rather D-I-Y, prices start at $16 for a Basic bowl – a base of leafy greens and your choice of four toppings.
WHERE: 41 Duxton Road; open: 10am to 8.30pm (Mondays to Fridays), 11am to 7pm (Saturdays)
PRICE: From $16 for a bowl
INFO: Call 6221-1227 or go to www.eatatsprout.com