Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Green bowl

I found my way out of the ordering chicken and broccoli rut.

The place I go to now is called The Green Bowl. They have no menu. Yes, really. What they offer instead is an all-you-can eat stir fry that you put together yourself.

When you are seated, you're given a wooden stick with two numbers written on it: the first is your table number, the second is your seat at the table. You take this stick with you up to a largish cold table -- like a salad bar -- where you pick up a bowl and start piling on what you want in your stir fry. There are vegetables, fruit, noodles, tofu, eggs, all kinds of seasonings, oils, and sauces. Once you've built your dinner, you pick up one of the colored plastic sticks at the end of the bar (they denote which meat you want added to your dinner, or whether you'd like it to be done as a soup or a wrap sandwich), put that and your wooden stick in your bowl. You then leave it on the counter and go sit down.

The whole glorious mess gets cooked up on this huge griddle in the middle of the establishment. When it's done, the wooden stick goes back in. This stick is how the wait staff identifies whose dinner belongs to whom when they bring it back to your table, along with rice. You can have white rice or brown, whichever you prefer.

I'm usually stuffed after the first time through, but you can go back as often as you like.

What I like best? I never have the same dinner twice. They rotate ingredients in and out of the cold table (depending upon what's in season, I suppose), and even if I get all the same ingredients as I did the time before, the sauce I used may not be there. Or (and this is more likely) I forget what I did last time, or I don't get the proportions the same.

I suppose if I got nostalgic for chicken and broccoli, I could always put a whole lot of broccoli in a bowl, dump some brown sauce on it, and put in a chicken stick.

And yes, the bowls are green. Originally they used white ones, but they finally bought some green ones a year or so ago. I guess they got tired of people asking them why The Green Bowl didn't have green bowls.

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