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Big Bowl

Update 1/6/05: This Big Bowl is closed. (Remember, Eating in Madison A to Z isn't a dining guide. It's more like a diary. Sometimes we'll make updates, and sometimes we won't.)

In a word: They're not kidding.

The specs: #0034
JM ate the beef and broccoli with a lemonade. He worked the August 1996 Atlantic Monthly Cryptic Crossword. His fortune was, "Don't let friends impose on you, work calmly and silently."
Nichole ate the satay version of the Asian chicken salad with green tea. Her fortune was, "Pressure from a third party should not sway your decision."
We shared the lettuce wrap appetizer.
The bill was $29, or $14.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Big Bowl a B+; Nichole gave Big Bowl a B- (see our grading rubric).

Latest Big Bowl news and reviews

We'd been to Big Bowl before and frankly dreaded going again. We'd first tried it on a busy Friday night not long after they opened, and we were a party of 5 or 6, including a pre-toddler. After a one-hour wait for a table and a significant delay to have our order taken, the server announced she'd THROWN OUT our ticket and we had to order again. The food was OK but by then it was waaaay past the kid's bedtime (obvious to everyone in our party and at several adjacent tables), a fact which had no expediting effect upon our server's delivery of the check, which didn't even offer complementary sodas or any other apology for our 4 hours of purgatory. Ah, the New Urbanist/Faux Asian Dining Experience.

So we braved yet another foray into a westside lifestyle center and hedged our bets by arriving on a Sunday afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised. The service was speedy, accurate, and knowledgeable; the lettuce wraps, a signature appetizer, were well-recommended.

JM's beef and broccoli was good, and very abundant, even for an $8 entree. Nichole's Asian chicken salad came with various greens, sprouts, shrimp chips, red peppers in a vinegar dressing, cilantro, carrots, etc. etc. and also yielded leftovers. The green tea came with a snazzy steeping timer on the side.

Another attraction of Big Bowl is the make-your-own-stir-fry bar, which is kind of cool. It's a bit pricey for what a semiskilled home cook could also do, but very handy for finicky eaters. Big Bowl serves Coke and even Dr. Pepper. We've found this is rare for an Asian-style restaurant, but good to know if you're into brand loyalty.

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