The idea was simple: to create a fast-food concept using healthy, nutrient-rich whole ingredients and super foods. The reaction? Great! If you’ve been to either of Blue Bowl’s two Orange County locations, specifically during the midafternoon, you’ve seen lines of people out the door and down the sidewalk.
So the new Blue Bowl location at the Long Beach Exchange was very exciting for us non-OC residents. Sure, it was worth braving traffic-clogged freeways for, but we’ll take convenience any day. Blue Bowl opened inside the Hangar food court in mid-July, and the crowds came hungry.
As with Blue Bowl’s other locations, this store is closed on Sundays, but it opens at a bright 7 a.m. every other day of the week, closing by 7 p.m. (6 p.m. on Saturdays).
For newcomers, the Blue Bowl experience is a choose-your-adventure situation. You can point and pick your bowl components from behind a glass panel, Subway-style. Each health-benefit-packed ingredient has been carefully researched and sourced.
It’s intimidating at first. How does one choose among the assorted nut butters, berries, seeds and other goodies, all while trying to not tie up the line? The good news is that there are no bad combinations; each ingredient harmonizes with the next, and any mix you choose will result in a complexly layered delight.
A helpful visual aide at the counter will get you started, with a cross-section-like photo of layered bases and pointers explaining each one. There are warm, breakfast bases such as Original Chia (an ivory-colored, chia-dotted pudding) and Early Bird Oats, as well as cold bases such as Acai (which comes in a sherbet consistency), Majik Pineapple (a refreshing, citrusy slush) and the delicious Blue Chia, a creamy semi-sweet pudding that, thanks to a helping of spirulina, is a soft shade of sky blue.
After you choose your base or bases, go for fruits. There are bananas, strawberries and blueberries. Get them all. Next, pick a granola (maple quinoa is a good one), a nut butter (cashew!), dried berries and seeds, then add drizzles of sweeteners (if they have it, try ginger honee, a vegan honey substitute) and cinnamon (yes!).
Or you can just keep it easy and order the house specialty: Lazy Blue. This signature bowl comes with the following array of ingredients: açaí, pitaya, blue chia, pumpkin flax granola, all the fresh fruits, almond butter, toasted coconut, almonds, dried goji berries, cacao nibs, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds, all topped with apple honee.
If you have any questions (like “What is pitaya, exactly?”), the staff are knowledgeable and patient. And quick. Like lightning, they layer beautifully composed, colorful concoctions, arranging banana slices as though they were flower petals.
But the attitude here for new guests should be “just try it.” Select a bowl size (small, medium, or large, each at a flat rate), then go to town on the healthy stuff.
Though the Blue Bowl staff quickly create each customized bowl, the queues can get long. However, 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday saw a mere four people in line—so if you can swing it, go before the lunch rush. Or wait in line—these bowls are totally worth it.
Blue Bowl, 4150 McGowen St., Ste. 6, Long Beach, (714) 876-5309; www.mybluebowl.com.