Big Bowl is a big deal!

New Asian Bistro is a winner

By Brian P. Sharp

Photo: The Ring of Fire with chicken at Big Bowl Asian Bistro in Riverside

Delicious, full of flavor, spicy, different, unassuming, hidden –all words that could describe the Big Bowl Asian Bistro, opened in the location formerly known as Linh’s.

I must say that I was skeptical. When Linh’s announced they were moving into their new larger, brighter, updated location the facility kind of went downhill – though the food quality was always great. That said, my concern was, “What will this new place be? Will they have just changed the name and opened a restaurant?”

My concerns were relieved the minute I opened the door. This transition involved much more than a name change and a cleaning rag. In fact, the flooring has been replaced with ceramic tile, the walls were painted, the furniture cleaned and arranged differently. In fact, if I didn’t know we were still in the aluminum building that also houses an Asian grocery, I would have thought I was in a whole new place. Unfortunately, there isn’t a sign out front and the sign on the front of the building was hanging below a burnt out light bulb. It is, however, worth the time to locate.

The restaurant is considered a Pacific Rim restaurant. The cultures that are found in the Pacific Rim are not afraid of spice. Big Bowl offers a full variety of mild and spicy dishes and they allow you to decide just how spicy you like your meal. Plus, the “big bowl” in this restaurant means getting more than you pay for in their signature big bowls.

I should mention there is a Chinese menu available for those that are a bit less daring. However, for those that are willing to push their taste limits, you will experience a new restaurant option sure to become a favorite. The menu has things like starters, soups, hot pots, rice, wok fired noodles (Pad Thai, Malaysian noodles, Singapore noodles, Cantonese noodles, wheat noodles, egg noodles and crystal noodles), Pho and even special teas and coffees.

After reading and rereading the menu we made some decisions. For starters we decided on the B.B. Sampler – with the sampler you get to enjoy two each of spring rolls, gyoza, crab rangoon and tempura shrimp. The spring rolls are offered in a combination of chicken and vegetables rolled in Thai rice paper. The gyoza is Japanese-style fried pot sticker, but with a thinner skin than you might be used to. The crab rangoon is formed in pouches and filled with sweet cream cheese. The tempura shrimp are lightly battered and fried to a golden brown. All of these are served with a sweet and sour sauce.

Steve and I both decided to try soup as well. I chose the hot and sour and Steve opted for the egg drop. I am a very picky hot and sour soup guy. I still feel that Chin’s (when it was open in downtown Dayton) had the best hot and sour soup in town. This hot and sour was a bit more on the sour side than the hot side – though piping hot – it had a bit of sauerkraut in the soup that added to the sour kick and was a nice variety. The egg drop soup was a rich yellow broth full of egg drops. Both soups were piping hot and full of flavor.

The entrées that are offered on this menu are too plentiful to mention all of them. However, the Thai-inspired and Malaysian-inspired options were things that jumped out at us to try.

I chose something called the Ring of Fire, which the menu described as “hot as volcanoes” and “you should use caution when ordering.” The Ring of Fire is offered in chicken and beef and is listed as a Big Bowl Original. Steve decided to try the Masaman curry chicken. Both of our dishes allowed us to choose just how “hot” we wanted them. Since I was already instructed to use caution – I decided on a “3” – while Steve went for a “4”.

The Ring of Fire was a mixture of chicken, onions, green pepper and bits of red pepper and jalapeno. The Masaman curry chicken was chicken served with golden curry and a mixture of vegetables with just a hint of coconut cream – this dish reminded me of Panang chicken. Both of these entrees were full of flavor – served in the signature boat dish with white rice. The Ring of Fire was certainly spicy at a level 3, and while I might be willing to go to a level 4, this dish is truly not for the delicate palette. The curry dish was rich and creamy and filled with vegetables. These entrées certainly were big enough to share or have plenty to take home for later.

We opted to try the Thai Coffee and Thai Tea for dessert. These creamy chilled offerings (also can be served hot) were much like frappe drinks.

Pricing at Big Bowl Asian Bistro is in the moderate range. Starters range from $3 to $10.95 for the sampler. Soups are $1.75 to $2.50 for appetizer soups. Dinner Entrees range from $9.95 to $12.95 with one option in the $14 range.

Who wants to join me for another Ring of Fire?

Big Bowl Asian Bistro is located at 4770 Airway Road in Riverside. For more information, please call 937.258.8880 or visit bigbowlasianbistro.com

Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at Dining@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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