Friday, February 02, 2018


Entenmann's is a wholesale bakery and supplier of packaged baked goods, such as loaf cakes, donuts, cookies, cup cakes, pies, bars, muffins, danishes, etc.  I remember seeing their products primarily in gas stations when I was growing up, and always eyed the boxes of chocolate donuts.  I think we sometimes got their eclairs, but, my memories aren't that strong.

While Entenmann's is technically a bakery, I'm going to put them more into the "snacks" category than bakery, much like Little Debbie or Drake's, both of whose goods I have reviewed before.

On my recent visit to my parent's house, my dad had a box of their goodies, and, one night, a rare case of my mom not making homemade dessert, I tried one.

It was, uh, very satisfying?
Mini Apple Pie.
"An American classic, perfect for a snack anytime!"

Entenmann's makes classic whole apple pies.  But, they also make snack pies, in several sizes (mini or regular, both considered individual servings).

I think calling them "pies" isn't quite accurate, these aren't mini pies, as in, not just small versions of pie, but rather, more like McDonald's pies ... that is, pastry wrapped around filling on all sides.  But I digress.

I opted for the smaller "mini" pie.   Like the larger snack size, these are grab-no-go pies, individually wrapped.
Mini Apple Pie: Inside.
The pastry wrapper wasn't flaky.  It wasn't buttery.  But it was oh-so-sweet, with plentiful hard white glaze on it.  Quality pastry?  Nah.  Fresh pastry?  Certainly not.  But I didn't care.

The filling wasn't just goo, it did have some chunks of apple, and it was decently spiced.

Basically, it was a snack pie, exactly as you'd expect.

Which has its place in life.  Sometimes, a simple little snack pie is all you want.  And when that mood hits, I recommend this one.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Sweet Sydney's Gluten-Free Cookies

I don't really like cookies.  I'm not gluten-free.  But I'll admit these are decently made gluten-free cookies, and, the gluten-free folks I know rave about them (and claim "you wouldn't even know they are gluten-free!"  I disagree, but, I'm glad they like them).  My opinion?  Great soft format, nice flavors, but ... clearly gluten free!
"We are an artisan, gluten-free (GF) baking company based in San Francisco. My dad and I spent months perfecting our family recipes to create what we think are the best GF desserts on the market. Give our treats a try and we think you'll agree."
That is about all I know about the company, besides the fact that they produce for wholesale markets, and are distributed at all the higher end grocery stores around town, so they are pretty easy to obtain if you live in SF.  They make cookies, cookie dough, brownies, and lemon bars.  We tried several of the cookies.
"Soft and chewy, with amazing flavor, this cookie launched Sweet Sydney’s. These will not only be your favorite GF cookie, but your favorite cookie period."

These looked like really great cookies.  Large size, soft, perfectly crackled on top, large chunks of pearl sugar.

They were soft too.  But, I found the texture a bit off.  In exactly the way I'd expect, to be honest.  They were gluten-free after all.

My gluten-free friends however said they were great, so, if you are gluten-free, and like cookies, give them a try.  If you are expecting to not notice anything a bit different though, these won't do that.
Oatmeal Raisin.
"Oatmeal raisin cookie--soft and chewy with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg."

These were easily my least favorite.

Big, soft cookies, and they looked great, but, tasted like sawdust to me.  I thought the texture was very off, but, others really thought they were good.

Credit for the soft cookie, and credit for good distribution of raisins, but, I did not like.
Coconut Macadamia.
"Amazing coconut cookies with two types of coconut. Soft and chewy with crunchy macadamia nuts."

This one was *almost* good.  Another soft cookie, almost even unbaked in a gooey way that I like.  It was very generously laced with shredded coconut (too much for my taste, but that is personal preference), but I was disappointed by the small amount of macadamia, and fact that the macadamia was small bits, rather than larger chunks.

Still, again, very decently made, for what it was.
Chocolate Chunk.
"Our classic cookie is still soft, chewy and just as you remember. You will never know they’re GF."

Like all the Sweet Sydney's cookies, this one did look great.  It was soft, nicely studded with chocolate chunks, etc.  But ... like all of them, I could indeed tell it was gluten free.  The texture was just chalky and not pleasant.  Sorry Sweet Sydney's!
Salted Caramel Toffee.
"Our newest cookie is amazing! Lots of caramel with Heath toffee bits mixed in and a sea salt dusting."

This one really was the best.  It was soft, and the toffee bits were fabulous.

But ... the texture.  A gluten-free cookie, for sure.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Waffling Leftovers: "Red Salad"

Today's random leftovers waffling adventure is another pretty strange one, even I'll admit this.   If the concept of waffling things that aren't waffle batter is new to you, you might want to start with my master post, and then return here.
"Red Salad" Transformation.
This time, I started with leftover ... salad.  Yes, the concept of me waffling salad is not actually new, as you read about last week.  Or the time I waffled peaches from an heirloom tomato, stone fruit, and burrata salad.

But this was a particularly interesting salad, dubbed "Red Salad".  More on this soon.

But first, the burning question.

Will it Waffle: Leftover "Red Salad"?  Actually, yes.
The Original: "Red Salad".
So first, the original.  A salad, but not one that has any greens.  A nice winter salad.

The base is a mix of shredded red cabbage, red onions, and red beets.  Hence the name.  All raw.  It is dressed with simple balsamic and olive oil.  Also in the mix is chervil and capers.  It is normally served with creme fraiche on the side, but, our chef mixed it all in this time (which, to be honest, just wasn't nearly as successful.  Don't do that.).  The recipe actually says, "Next to this, nustle your blob of crème fraîche as if the two ingredients were good friends, not on top of each other as if they were lovers."  I greatly prefer this, uh, nustling, as it allows you to mix in a little creaminess when you want it, and just appreciate the assertive crisp raw veggies when you don't.  This version was more like a cole slaw.

So where does such a strange sounding recipe come from?  The recipe is actually that of Chef Fergus Henderson, a highly regarded Michelin star chef, in his cookbook Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook.  

This salad is usually a favorite of mine, but, I think due to the mixing in of the cream fraiche, it wasn't a winner this time, and we had lots leftover.
Leftover "Red Salad".
I tried some leftovers the next day, hoping maybe I'd like it more now that my expectations were adjusted, and, now that the flavors had melded a bit more.

But, it still was just like cole slaw, was too creamy/rich, and just not really good.  And I like cole slaw, and I love rich things.  This just wasn't working for me.
Into the waffle iron ...
Rather than throw it out, you know what I did of course.

Switched on the waffle iron, 350 degrees.
"Waffled" "Red Salad".
I forgot to take a final photo, so I'll have to describe the transformation instead.

It worked.  The creme fraiche mostly cooked out, so the creamy rich aspect that wasn't doing it for me was removed.

The cabbage transformed the least, basically, just warm cabbage, which was fine, but not particularly interesting.

The red onion, originally harsh raw red onion, turned into grilled onion.  Um, always a good thing.

The shredded beet was the biggest surprise, I think because it was shredded more finely than the other items it cooked more, and turned into crispy beet strips, like, beet chips.  I actually *really* liked the beets.

Put it all together, and it was a mix of flavors and textures that kinda worked.  Was it amazing?  Nah.  But it was much, much better than the original, and I was glad I tried it.

So yes, it "waffled".

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pagliacci's Pizza, Seattle Area

I was in the Seattle area (Kirkland to be exact) for a working offsite for several days in October.  The first night, we had a late night "hackathon", and obviously needed food.  Going out wasn't an option, as we were supposed to be hacking after all, so, pizza delivery it was.  I really have no idea the last time I had pizza delivery, so this whole experience was a bit novel for me.
Assorted Pizzas.
We ordered from Pagliacci Pizza, the local place that was recommended.  It is a Seattle based chain, around since 1979, and winner of some "best pizza" awards.

Overall, it was better than your average pizza delivery joint like Domino's or a local "Village Pizza" on Main Street, Anytown, US, and did feature some higher end ingredients.  The menu even calls out some of the purveyors they use by name, e.g. Mama Lil’s peppers, Foraged & Found Edibles mushrooms, Laura Chenel's Goat Cheese, Hempler's Canadian Bacon, Cascioppo Bros. Italian Sausage, La Quercia Prosciutto, and more.

The pizzas were clearly made with care, delivered hot and in tact, and their selection of suggested "Pagliacci's Favorites" pizzas were well curated.

The only real element I wasn't a fan of was the crust.  It was just boring, and not as high quality as the other components.  It wasn't burnt, it wasn't stale, but it just was ... crust.  I prefer a thinner, crispy style, or a charred wood even style, or, something.

Still, for delivery pizza, it was fine.
Pizza Party!
For my group of 70, I ordered 18 large pizzas, 6 different varieties, 3 of each kind, half vegetarian.

Each box was labelled, and we were provided plates, napkins, forks, Parmesan cheese, and hot peppers to sprinkle on.
Margherita. $23.99.
"A traditional Neapolitan pizza with fresh mozzarella, basil, a dash of sea salt and olive oil with crushed Italian tomatoes as a base."

I wanted to have something simple for those who don't like toppings, but I couldn't bring myself to just order "The Original", e.g. tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella.  Instead, I upgraded to the Margherita for $4 more, to get crushed Italian tomatoes instead of tomato sauce as the base, fresh mozzarella instead of shredded, and basil.

It looked fine, but I was interested in the more exciting options.
Extra Pepperoni. $23.99.
"A veritable blanket of pepperoni over mozzarella and our seasoned tomato sauce."

Also to please the crowds, I opted for pepperoni, because, well, pepperoni.  Pagliacci's has an "Extra Pepperoni" on the "Favorites" menu, so I went for that, because, um, who doesn't want more pepperoni?

I didn't try it, but it looked like a classic pepperoni pizza, with a very good covering of perfectly spaced pepperoni.  The pizza maker obviously cared, but wow, are large pizzas really $23.99 now with only one topping?  You can tell how long it has been since I've ordered pizza (as in, uh, college?)

If I had wanted another slice, I certainly would have gone for this one.
Spicy Chicken. $24.99.
"Marinated chicken, Mama Lil’s peppers, parsley, mozzarella and feta over olive oil seasoned with red pepper flakes."

The next meat offering I also ordered for everyone else, as I needed a meat option that wasn't pork based ... we had a number of non-pork eaters, and I didn't realize until making the pizza order that most meat based pizza toppings are pork ... ham, pepperoni, sausage ...

Pagliacci's had a number of chicken based pizzas though, I picked this randomly because spicy sounded fun?
Funghi Salsiccia. $25.99.
"Cascioppo's Italian sausage, Ostrom's mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, sea salt and olive oil with crushed Italian tomatoes as a base."

The meat pizza I ordered based on my preferences was the funghi salsiccia, since I like mushrooms and sausage, and the "crusted Italian tomatoes" as the base sounded more interesting than standard red tomato sauce.

The crushed tomato sauce was basically just slightly nicer pizza sauce, more like what you get at any upscale pizza place.  I certainly wouldn't have realized it was "crushed tomatoes" rather than sauce, but I didn't try one with the standard sauce to compare. It was fine, a light layer that didn't overwhelm.

The sausage was thin slices of spiced italian sausage, enjoyable enough.  The mushrooms were just sliced button mushrooms, but they were at least not the slimy kind from a can.  The mozzarella cheese was again sorta like a higher end place in that it didn't overwhelm and would probably be considered sparse compared to standard pizza joints.

Overall, another well made pizza, no topping overwhelming the others, everything well distributed.
Wild Mushroom Primo. $29.99.
"We combine a medley of freshly harvested wild mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles and roast them with herbs. They are combined with onions, parmesan, mozzarella, provolone and fresh parsley over garlic and olive oil."

The vegetarian option I picked because I wanted it was the wild mushroom primo, a seasonal special.

It came topped with a mix of assorted wild mushrooms (far more interesting than the mushrooms in the Funghi Salsiccia).  They were all cooked nicely, kinda meaty, hearty, and really an impressive selection.  And like the other pizzas, evenly and generously distributed on top.

This pizza also had soft sweet onions, which I loved.  They combined perfectly with the mushrooms and the cheese.

And oh the cheese.  This pizza didn't just have standard mozzarella, it had a magical mix of provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan.  I don't think I've ever had provolone on a pizza before, but wow, this mix worked great.  It was chewy and absolutely coated the crust, and I loved it.  Much more generously applied than the mozzarella on the other pizzas, I think intentionally, because it really helped form the base here.

This pizza also had no sauce, but instead garlic, olive oil, and parsley rubbed into the crust.  This too was excellent, and enhanced the strong flavors of the mushrooms, the sweet onions, and the flavorful cheeses.  Sauce would have ruined this.

If you can't tell, I adored this pizza.  Well, the toppings anyway.  Each element was fantastic, and they combined together just perfectly.

Hands down winner of the night, clearly a high end pizza, and worthy of being the most expensive pizza we ordered (by a lot!)
Verde Primo. $27.99.
"Thyme-roasted artichoke hearts, Ostrom's mushrooms, pesto, Laura Chenel's goat cheese, garlic and mozzarella over our seasoned tomato sauce."

The final vegetarian option was the hardest to select, as they just had so many combinations on the "Favorites" menu, so I asked one of the vegetarians to just select his favorite, and went with that.  It had goat cheese which I hate, and artichoke hearts with I wasn't remotely interested in, but, I had plenty of other choices in pizza, so I went with his suggestion.

It was the most attractive, again, clearly well made, with a pesto drizzle nicely applied.  More expensive than the meat pizzas, but it makes sense, as it had so many different toppings, and I imagine goat cheese is just as premium as fancy sausage.
Sicilian Chicken Salad. $21.49. Ceasar Salad. $16.99.
We also ordered 2 salads, both "party sized", which said they would serve 8 people.  Um, really?

"Mixed greens and arugula combined with chicken, thyme-roasted artichokes, currants, sun-ripened tomatoes, and kasseri cheese tossed in a spicy vinaigrette."

First up was the Sicilian Chicken, which had basically nothing in it I was interested in, so I skipped it.  I still don't understand how this box of salad was $21.49?  What?

"Romaine lettuce tossed with Parmesan, croutons handmade by Macrina Bakery and our Caesar dressing."

Next was the caesar, basic caesar with tons of shredded mozzarella, and the style of caesar dressing I don't care for - oily, zesty, rather than creamy.  The lettuce was fresh enough, but overall, basically what you'd expect from a pizza place.
Pagliacci Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 29, 2018


Update Review, January 2018

And ... Eatsa pivoted again.  They have closed most of the restaurants, and are now marketing as a platform for other restaurants to use.  However, the two San Francisco locations remain open as a test bed, but, with some significant menu changes since my last visit.

Changes this time around include a slew of different ingredients/toppings, with many removed and many new things added.  But also, the pricing has changed again.  The lunch bowls now start at $8.95, and generally include ~9 ingredients (1-2 bases, 3 vegetables, 1 cheese, 1 crunch, 1 dressing, 1 extra), but all are still fully customizable.

This visit was perhaps my favorite, I was really impressed with the quality and flavors of my custom bowl.
A very, very, very custom "Winter Harvest Salad". $8.95.
I found one preset bowl that seemed to be a higher value than the others: 11 ingredients, which included 2 extras. So, uh, I just customized that one, entirely.  I kept zero ingredients from the original.  It came labeled with a big slew of "No"s, and didn't even get to the point of listing anything I *did* order.

My bowl, if created as a "Start from scratch", would have been priced at $14.95, for, exactly the same thing, since the ingredients aren't interchangeable between categories if you create your own (as in, you can't get only one veggie and multiple crunchies instead, even though they cost the same).  Literally $6 more to built it this way.  Make your decisions accordingly!

So, starting with the Base.

The bases have gotten even more interesting than the original concept of just salad or quinoa bowls, with a whopping 10 options now.  There are only two types of greens now (baby kale, baby mixed greens) and still three types of quinoa (toasted red quinoa, lemon herb quinoa, stir-fried quinoa), but the rest of the bases are more creative.  Chili, pinto beans, and thai red curry were added a while back, and they've more recently been joined by corn curry and marinara sauce.

I actually opted to skip all bases, although I am interested in trying the chili sometime, and can imagine a satisfying chili bowl with cheese and crunchy toppings.  I can also imagine a tasty curry bowl, using the thai red curry or the corn curry.  But for this bowl, I had something else in mind: augmenting a salad I already had, so, no greens base was needed, and I could spend my "credits" differently.

Bases are valued at $1.50 each normally.
Winter Harvest Salad (entirely modified). $8.95.
I wasn't sure how they'd assemble my ridiculous, baseless creation, but I was thrilled to see it so nicely assembled, each ingredient in its own place, and a completely full bowl, even though, as I said, this was a ridiculous order.  I really expected it to be only half full, given the fact that I had no base!

Breaking down the other categories ....

The cheese category is greatly reduced from before, only 4 choices now: parmesan, feta, goat, and jack.  I actively dislike goat and jack, don't really care for feta, and I'm indifferent to parmesan, so I skipped all the cheeses too, also valued at $0.75.

The veggies category is the largest, with 24 different items, ranging from basic salad ingredients (edamame, cucumber, tomatoes, spinach), to roasted seasonal offerings (butternut squash, yams, spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, potatoes), to protein sources (hummus, kidney beans, marinated chickpeas), to pickled/brined items (marinated beets, pickled red onion, pickled jalapeno, kalamata olives, apple cabbage slaw), to fun new additions like cheesy cauliflower.

I picked only one veggie, the cheesy cauliflower, because it sounded interesting.  I had plenty of veggies already left in my salad I planned to supplement, and I knew I'd be picking veggies from the Good Stuff category too.  Veggies are valued at $0.75.

Spoiler: The roast veggies were such an amazing success, I kinda wished I had picked more.

The category I absolutely did not skimp on?  CRUNCHIE!  These are the highlights for me, always.

The crispy onion strings and crispy wonton chips I got last time are still there (yay!), and I doubled up on both.  I also opted for the crunchy spiced chickpeas and the candied walnuts, as I wanted to try them.  Other options included croutons, flat bread, pita chips, tortilla chips, and raisins.  Crunchies too are $0.75.

Although ridiculous, I was quite pleased with devoting so much of my bowl to crunch.

Much like crunchies, sauces are also something I love, and I couldn't pick just a reasonable single choice.  I knew they'd come packaged on the side, so it wouldn't be strange to get two (which, I did last time as well.  Hedging my bets!)

Sauces include dressings (balsamic vinaigrette, citrus vinaigrette, creamy oregano vinaigrette, ranch, buffalo ranch, oil & vinegar), along with chimichurri, pesto, harissa, hot sauce, and teriyaki.  I opted for the pesto since I really loved it when I had it with a breakfast bowl and buffalo ranch, as I'm not a fan of vinaigrette, and wanted something fun to dunk items into.  Like cheeses, veggies, and crunchies, these too are $0.75.

Another good decision.

Good Stuff:
And finally, the "Good Stuff", the premium ingredients, each $1.50, and normally only one is included in a bowl.  The Good Stuff is the most diverse category, some hot, some cold, some veggies, some proteins, some fruit.  No real way to categorize this stuff, besides, premium ingredients.

There are three types of mushroom available: roasted cremini, miso portobello, and asada portobello.  In perhaps a strange move for me, I selected the later too.  Even though I hated the poke portobello in my last bowl, I had fond memories of the first portobello I had from Eatsa that helped me convince me the place was worth returning to.  Other veggies were vegan kimchi and crowd pleasing avocado or guacamole.  Protein additions of the "eatsa Egg", hot marinated tofu, falafel balls, and a half a regular hard boiled egg were still there (but the truffled egg seems gone).  My curiosity lead me to select and deselect the eggplant parmesan several times as I pondered my order.  So much potential there, but, in the end, I skipped it, fearing it might just be soggy.  I'm still curious about that, and the spiced roasted pears, both of which are used in some of the pre-composed bowls as signature ingredients (the former with spaghetti squash, marinara, and parmesan, along other things, the later on a salad bowl with goat cheese and candied walnuts).

So yes, my bowl had no base, no cheese, only one veggie, and 6 portions of crunchie, 2 dressings, and 2 extras.  I told you it was ridiculous.

It also turned out to be delicious.  And not exactly a light offering.  Eatsa nicely shows you the nutritional breakdown of your bowl, where I could see very clearly what nutritionists warn about "salads" not really being healthy options if you aren't careful, like, oh, I dunno, adding all the crunchy toppings and multiple dressings?  Yup, it clocked in at nearly 1,000 calories and 63 grams of fat (but 20 grams of protein, impressive for a toppings bowl).
Veggies + Good Stuff + Crunchies: Cheesy Cauliflower, Asada Portobello, Miso Portobello, 2x Crispy Onion Strings, 2x Crispy Wonton Chips, Crispy Spiced Chickpeas, Candied Walnuts. 
I removed my sauce containers to reveal my piles of goodies.  I laughed a little, as it didn't exactly look vibrant (sooo much brown, white, and beige) and certainly was dominated by the crispy things (which, makes sense, 6 of the 9 ingredients were crunchies after all).  It was well assembled.

Cheesy Cauliflower:
I'm really not sure what was supposed to be "cheesy" about this.  I didn't taste any cheese.  But I also didn't care.  Of the veggies, this was my favorite ingredient.  It was expertly roasted - not too soft, but not undercooked, nice bite to it, amazingly well seasoned.  I was really impressed with how well executed it was.  Served warm, which I wasn't expecting, but was fine.

Asada Portobello:
The asada chunks of portobello were incredible.  Kinda bbq flavor, really juicy, really smoky, really great texture, a nice bite to them.  I think even avid meat eaters would appreciate these for the "meatiness".  Like the cauliflower, I was really impressed with how well prepared and how flavorful this was, and, like the cauliflower, served warm, which surprised me, but was great although a bit odd in a salad.  My second favorite, but just barely behind the cauliflower.

Miso Portobello:
The miso portobello chunks were fine, but a bit slimy, and not great miso flavor.  Absolutely fine, but the asada ones were so insanely good they paled in comparison.  Also, warm.

Crispy Onion Strings:
The double order resulted in a comical amount of these, but I didn't mind.  Super crispy, super flavorful little bits of fried onion, although they were a bit too oily.  They went great with the buffalo ranch and the asada portobello, very steakhouse inspired.  I think my favorite crunch element, just because of how well it combined with everything.

Crispy Wonton Chips:
My other double order, which also provided me with more of these than a reasonable person would ever just eat, but I adored.  Again a bit too oily, but very flavorful and crunchy, and fun to dip in sauces.

Crispy Spiced Chickpeas:
The spiced chickpeas were super tasty.  I don't like chickpeas, but these were roasted crispy little bits, and seasoned aggressively, in a good way.  Much like the asada portobello, I was impressed with the spicing.  My second favorite crispy item.

Candied Walnuts:
The candied walnuts made no sense in this bowl (they go well with perhaps the seasonal roasted pears, goat cheese, spinach salad base, and with the oatmeal breakfast bowls), but with this, they weren't really a good fit.  I knew that, but I wanted to try them.  Sweet, crunchy, candied walnuts, fairly standard.  I scooped them out and used as a topping on my dessert instead.
Sauces: Buffalo Ranch, Pesto.
The bowl had so much amazing flavor and texture that I found it didn't *need* any sauces, but I ordered two, rather strategically.

For sauces, I was partially inspired by a new side dish (er, a "Savory Munch-a-Bowl"), Buffalo Cauliflower, described as "Roasty, toasty cauliflower with spicy buffalo ranch dipper".  I am fairly certain this was the same "cheesy" roasted cauliflower I picked for my veggie and the buffalo ranch sauce on the side.  I wanted to mirror that, plus, having some very tasty dressing to use on my future salad.

Buffalo Ranch:
The buffalo ranch was indeed awesome.  Creamy, and with serious kick.  I did dunk my cauliflower and wontons in it a bit at lunch, and they went nicely together, but mostly saved it, and used it on a later salad, which I also topped with extra crispy onion strings, and it was fabulous.  I'd certainly get this again.

The pesto I have had before (it goes well with their morning egg bowls and I really love it), and I got it thinking I might want it with the salmon I was having that night.  I didn't end up using it with the salmon since it was so good on its own, but, I'm sure I'll find a great use for it.

Update Review, December 2017

I haven't visited Eatsa in a very long time, since it is only open Mon-Fri, and only for breakfast and lunch, both of which are provided at my office.

But sometimes I want a change, and I got a bit hooked on poke bowls when I was visiting Southern California, and thought that perhaps I could kinda craft a bowl that was ... almost like poke.  It was a quasi success.
*Very* Modified California Poke Bowl. $9.95.
My order was a bit silly.

I could have built my own bowl from scratch, which would include 1 base, 3 veggies, 1 cheese, 1 crunch, 1 dressing, 1 "Good Stuff", for a base price of $6.95, with additional toppings costing more.

I didn't actually want any cheese or "Good Stuff", so I at least picked a bowl that didn't have a cheese included in the base price and included more veggies, and went from there.

Hence, the "California Poke Bowl No Avocado No Teriyaki No Brown Sushi Rice No Cucumber No Carrot Salad No Broccoli Mushroom Poke and more ... "

Walking through the modifications:
  • Base: The bowl normally comes with brown sushi rice, but I wanted a salad, so I opted for baby spinach (but was tempted by the baby kale or iceberg).
  • Veggies:  This bowl comes loaded with 5 different veggies, but, I didn't want most of them, so ditched the cucumber, carrot salad, and broccoli.  I kept the napa cabbage slaw, kept the mushroom poke (and doubled up on it actually), and added seaweed salad and spicy braised kale.
  • Crunch: Crunch is the most exciting part of the menu, and I gladly kept the crispy wonton strips.  I opted to add, for $0.75 each, crispy onion strings and toasted seeds too.  I would have gladly added smoked pecans and spiced cashews too, but, the bowl was getting pricey.
  • Sauce: The sauces also were exciting, and I ditched the teriyaki (because it made no sense with salad), and added ginger sesame and orange miso (the second one costing $0.75).
  • "Good Stuff": This bowl comes with avocado, which I'm allergic to, so I clearly ditched that.  I didn't want anything else, but opted for falafel since otherwise I'd just lose this slot, I couldn't use the credit for something else (which is lame, these are $1.50 each, and I'd much rather have applied that to more crunch!)
My bowl was correct, and well assembled.  It was easy to customize through the app.

It was a very heafty bowl, I think the bowls got bigger than the last time I tried one?
Modified California Poke Bowl.
So, breaking this down.

My base was baby spinach.  Not much interesting to say about that, it was, well, baby spinach.  Fresh, crisp, great portion.

Next, the "veggies".  These were a mixed success.

Starting with the included choices, the napa cabbage slaw was fine, a bit acidic, a slaw with shredded carrot too.  A small scoop, the portion was all I wanted.  I'd get it again, but it wasn't particularly awesome.

Then, the "mushroom poke".  This was included, and I opted to double up on it, anticipating that I'd love it.  I love mushrooms!  But ... I hated it.  The bits were well cooked, meaty, assorted types of mushroom pieces.  But it was marinated, way too acidic, and I didn't like it at all.  And, my bowl came with two huge scoops of it.  Doh.

Moving on to my additions, again, mixed success.

I loved the seaweed salad, fairly generic standard seaweed salad, but good flavor, bits of sesame seeds.  The portion was a small scoop, and I wished I had gotten more.

And finally, the spicy braised kale.  This was a big surprise, as, it was ... warm.  Ooops.  I would not have added it if I realized it was a warm item. It also was ... not tasty.  I like kale, but, this was bitter and so strangely flavored.  A bit spicy, but mostly just ... not tasty.  It was also a HUGE portion.  Easily 3-4x the size of any of the other veggie choices.  I hated it.

Now for the crunch.  These were all a great success.  I loved the crispy wontons, and I'm glad I doubled up on them (hence the two piles).  They were oily, but great.  I also liked the crispy onion strings, and that was just a single portion, but very generous.  The toasted seeds too were good, just toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, not seasoned, but, great crunch and additional protein.

For sauce, I couldn't make up my mind, and I knew the sauces came separately packaged on teh side, so I splurged for two, both asian-ish, since I was thinking of Asian inspiration for the bowl.  Both were ok, flavorful, but neither was really memorable.  That said, there was so much going on in the bowl that I barely needed them, and gladly saved them for later use.

And finally, a "Good Stuff".  I really didn't want *any* of these things, but, I decided to try the falafel.  Eatsa offers these as a side item too, so I figured they might be good, and I could save for later if I wanted.  They were ... way overcooked.  Way too crispy.  Way too dry.  I did not like at all.  The portion was 3 balls though, quite generous.

Overall, I enjoyed aspects of my bowl, and really disliked others.  But the portions were generous, the ingredients fresh, and the experience overall positive.

Update Review, September 2017

Since my last visit to Eatsa a year ago, Eatsa has totally revamped the breakfast menu.  It was time for me to check it out again.
Breakfast by "Robots".
The setup is still the same, order from the app or from the tablets around the store, pick up from a cubby, never interact with a human.  You can read more about the concept behind Eatsa in my original review.

I didn't get much on this visit, just something to supplement the breakfast I had waiting for me at the office, but I was quite pleased with a few things, and I'll return again.
Pickup Cubbies.
I ordered from my phone, and was given a pickup time of 8:55am.  I was there waiting at 8:55am, but, alas, my food was not.

It took about 5 minutes past my specified time, which seemed to be the norm.  The waiting area was filled with people just waiting.

After what felt like "forever", I finally saw my name on the far left screen and was assigned a cubby.  After several more agonizing minutes, my order was delivered.

Tapping on the screen to have it magically open and reveal the contents (my order) was less novel this time around (my 5th visit), but, I'll admit it, still kinda fun.
Packaged Order.
My order came nicely packaged up and labelled, as expected.
Autumn Spice Coffee.  $3.95.
"A mixture of clove, cinnamon, and ginger."

Part of the menu re-vamp is entirely different coffee selections, which is a good thing, given that I didn't care for the light roast the first time I went for breakfast, and said I was giving up on coffee there after trying the medium roast the next time.

But ... they had new options, and I couldn't resist.  The light roast (and dark roast) are gone from the menu, with only a medium roast, or decaf, remaining, still only one very large size, still $1.95.  Creamer and sweetener are still something you specify when you order, and they are added to it, rather than on the side.

But they also had flavored coffee, and I was just feeling in the mood to try it.

Flavored coffee options were "Autumn Spice", Cinnamon Cardamom, Chai, Orange Bergamot, and Dark Chocolate.  I went for the most fascinating sounding, "Autumn Spice", glad that autumn didn't include pumpkin.  I opted for black, since I don't trust others to add the right amount of sugar/creamer, and still wish they would let me order at least sweetener on the side, or have a condiments station.

I had no idea how Eatsa flavored the coffees.  Since the nutritional info was the same as regular, it seemed that flavored syrups weren't the answer.  I assumed they just had flavored roasts.  No other option really occurred to me.

My coffee came with a strange little thing in a holster on the side.  I picked it up and played with it.  Was it a straw?  It kinda looked like a kazoo.  I decided it was just some kind of toy, I know Eatsa sometimes throws extras into their packaging.

I tried my coffee.  I didn't taste spices, and the coffee was pretty mild, although, not offensive.  Hot enough.  "Whatever", I thought.

As I went to leave, I decided to ask what the thing on the side was, still unable to figure out what my toy was.  Someone else intercepted the sole staff member though (mistake with her order), and the staff member dashed off.  I hesitated, and the other customer said, "Problem with your order too?"  I said no, and just told her I was trying to figure out what the toy on the side of my cup was.  She laughed and said, "You got a flavored coffee right?"  She proceeded to explain to me that this was the flavor infuser, and I was supposed to insert it into my coffee (via a hole in the cup lid) and let it steep to infuse it.  Woah.  She told me the chocolate one is particularly good, and that you can often re-use the infuser for a second cup.  Woah.

Ok, Eatsa is novel for many reasons, but this is the first time I've seen infused coffee.  I thanked my new friend, inserted my infuser, and waited a few minutes.

And ... it worked.  My coffee was spiced.  Pleasantly spiced.  No syrups.  No chemicals.  Um, wow?

I liked it.  Was it a $4 coffee?  That part is debatable.  But of all the things Eatsa has innovated on, this one is certainly the most successful to me.

Now, if they'd just start offering a smaller size coffee (that is too much regular coffee for me!) and add a condiment station ...
Truffled Egg with Pesto. $2.76.
Next up was my breakfast item.

Here Eatsa has entirely changed the menu.  My dear Yogurt Quinoa Parfait is gone.  Sadness.  The breakfast lineup is now bowl based, just like lunch, but with quinoa, potato hash, or salad greens as the base, and toppings like scrambled eggs.  They have one parfait, but it is yogurt and chia seeds.  Booo.

I don't like scrambled eggs.  I don't want greens for breakfast.  I don't want warm quinoa for breakfast.  I certainly don't want beans for breakfast.

But, I know people like the truffled egg (also available as topping at lunch), so I decided to build a bowl minus a base.  (And yes, before you judge, I know this isn't a full breakfast, I was headed to my office for the rest of my breakfast, which, uh, was a bacon mac and cheese waffle!)
Truffled Egg, Pesto.
I opted for just a truffled egg (regular egg is also an option, or scrambled eggs or whites).  But of course I wanted a sauce.  The sauce options at breakfast are a bit more limited, but pesto sounded like it would be good with an egg, plus, I remembered liking the pesto in the test breakfast I had on one visit.

The pesto was really good.  Great flavor, slightly chunky texture.  I brought the rest home and used it on a bagel melt the next day, and it was even better that way.

The egg was lukewarm.  A perfect round circle, clearly cooked in a little bowl, likely in a microwave?  It had a slight hint of truffle oil I guess, but was otherwise completely unseasoned.  It needed salt and pepper, and, of course, no condiments are available.  I slathered on more pesto.
Truffled Egg: Inside.
I'm not really an egg girl, but I had seen so many photos of these gooey perfect eggs at Eatsa.  Mine?  Not so perfect.

The yolk wasn't hard set, but it certainly didn't ooze out as I was hoping.  The whites were a bit slimy and rubbery.

It was just an egg.  Not a particularly good nor bad one I guess, but, meh.

Update Review, September 2016

Sometimes, I crave healthy.  It is a rare thing, but, it does happen.  And even more rarely, that time is at breakfast.  So, one morning, I decided to return to Eatsa, to improve upon my breakfast parfait from last time.  Since I've reviewed the unique setup before, I'll let you start with my original review for the background on the "robots" and lack of ordering counter.  The only thing to note is that they finally released an Android App, which is what actually inspired my visit.
My Cubby.
Since it was breakfast and not busy, my order was ready very quickly.  The app notified me that I'd be in cubby 19, and, moments later, it lit up with my name.  I tapped, it opened, there was my breakfast.
Yogurt Quinoa Parfait (with modifications) $4.45, Medium Roast Coffee $1.95.
"Smooth and balanced, with hints of cocoa and nut."

I also ordered coffee.

Since I really did not like the light roast coffee last time, I went for the medium roast this time.

It was ... marginally better.  A bit darker than the light roast as you'd expect, so a bit more going on, but it still had some funk to it, like generic Folgers, or something else not very fresh.  I also don't like that they only have this large size, it really is too much caffeine for me in the morning, but if I'm buying a coffee, I don't want to waste it.  And I got it black, since I don't trust others to put in my sugar/creamer for me, given how subjective "a little" is.  I wished they had a condiment station.

So, I think I'm doing trying to get coffee there.  I'm clearly not alone; when I was in the store, the other two guests were each holding cups of Peets coffee.  Peets, luckily, is right next door.
Yogurt Quinoa Parfait, Extra Berries, Add Agave. $4.45.
"Cool, refreshing parfait blended with a kick of coconut and honey."

I took my own advice from last time, and added extra berries and agave, in addition to the standard toppings of sliced almonds and some berries.

I again really liked the yogurt and quinoa base, which continues to amaze me.  I don't really like yogurt.  I don't generally like quinoa.  But ... it works.  It is creamy, the quinoa is a bit crunchy, for some reason, I like it.  The quinoa is a mix of both red and white quinoa.  I still did not taste any coconut nor honey.

The berries on top were sliced strawberries and blueberries.  They were fine, but, in this case, I think 2x the berries was too much.  It was hard to get to my quinoa, and I grew sick of the fruit.  Ok, so, next time, back to regular berries.

I again appreciated the crunch from the sliced almonds, but would prefer some other nut or seed choices, like walnuts or pumpkin seeds.  Wouldn't pumpkin seeds be the perfect fall touch?

And finally, the agave.  The agave is served in a little plastic container, on top of the parfait, inside the container.  I like that they don't mix it in, so I can drizzle as makes sense.  But ... it gets covered in yogurt.  You can't put it down on a counter without making a big mess.  It really should be on the side, not inside the container.  The agave was perfect, necessary to add the touch of sweetness that I really wanted.

My suggestion though?  Pumpkin seeds and honey, for a perfect fall treat ... maybe I'll just bring my own toppings next time :)

The base parfait with two toppings is only $2.95, which is an excellent value.  Each of my additions added $0.75 to the price, making this $4.45, a bit pricey.  But if I bring my own honey and seeds next time ... 

Original Review, Summer 2016

I remember when Eatsa first opened in my neighborhood.  There was a lot of hype.  I remember phrases like "your food is cooked by robots!" and "restaurant of the future!" being tossed around.  In reality, the press was confused.  The food is indeed not cooked by robots.  But, granted, the model is pretty unique.  For one, the "restaurant" is basically just a big room with cubbies and ipads.

And what do these non-robot humans create?  When they opened, Eatsa served lunch only, but they now offer breakfast as well.  The lunch dishes are all "bowls", mostly based around quinoa or salad greens.  Oh yeah, it is a healthy, entirely vegetarian, establishment, did I mention that?  Breakfast is also mostly bowls, egg scrambles, or warm porridge like quinoa.  Dishes are highly customizable, portions are great, and it is really moderately priced, particularly for the neighborhood.

There are two Eatsa locations in San Francisco now, plus one over in Berkeley, and one in SoCal somewhere.  Unfortunately, they are open only Mon-Fri, so I have little opportunity to visit, as I eat my meals in my office during the week.  I'm eagerly waiting for them to realize our neighborhood really does have people on the weekends, and to open at least on Saturdays.  Because, well, those non-robots do make some tasty bowls.  Yup, healthy food, and I liked it.

The Setup
Ordering Stations.
To order, you either order via your own phone (iphone only, sigh) or via an ipad at the front of the store.  No human interaction.  All digital payment.  I'm all for this, in particular, order ahead, but, without Android or even better, basic web support, I'm stuck using the ipads upon arrival.  Boo.

Your meal is assembled in the back somewhere by real people.  No robots, sorry.  When it is ready, it is delivered to a cubby, where you pick it up.  You can track your order status via the app and via screens in the room.

So yes, certainly different, although not quite as automated as the initial press lead me to believe.
I had read about the pickup experience, but, it was still fascinating to see.  Cubbies of assorted sizes, all numbered, with text flashing on them.

When an order is ready, your name appears on the cubby.

On my second visit, I borrowed an iphone so I could see how that process worked.  Since I ordered through the app in advance, the app showed me my cubby number, and, sure enough, my name was displayed right on it, along with a flashing "Double tap" circle.  I could see my order through the transparent window.

I double tapped, and the face plate moved away so I could grab my order.  Magic ... ish.
Cutlery Dispenser.
No silverware is provided with your order, but you can get whatever you need over on the side.  They smartly double up on forks, the most commonly used utensil.

This area also has trash/compost/recycling and napkins.

This dispenser is also magic.  It doesn't look like it, but, once I grabbed a spoon, I heard the dispenser vending a new one.  I kinda assumed they were just stacked in there and would spit out naturally, but, nope, this was actually robotic.


The breakfast menu is broken into three sections: beverages, bowls, and sides.  The only side available is a fruit cup, also available during lunch.


For breakfast, Eatsa offers 3 varieties of coffee (light, medium, and dark roast), 3 types of tea (breakfast, green, or mint), and water (sparkling, Smart Water, or house water).

No decaf coffee, no juices, so, minus a few points for that.
Light Roast Coffee.  $1.95.
"Mellow and flavorful, with bright citrus and rich chocolate notes."

I opted for the light roast.

When I ordered, I had the option to customize it by specifying my sugar level ("none", "light", "medium", or "sweet"), sugar type (regular or "low sugar blend"), milk level ("light", "medium", or "creamy", and milk type (soy, skim, half and half).  No upcharge for soy.  I went with black, assuming there would be a condiment station for me to use if I needed it.  I prefer black coffee, but, if the coffee isn't good, I'll add milk and sugar to make it bearable.

And ... the coffee wasn't very good.  It was fairly harsh, and I think just tasted rather old and over-brewed.  It was a light roast, but, yeah, not good.

And, there was not a condiment station, so, if you want to have the milk and sugar, you need to specify it when you order.  I understand that they want to streamline everything and not have a condiment station, but, I would have liked the ability to fix this bad coffee.  Instead, I brought it back to my office and added milk and sugar there, but, still, it wasn't ever very good.

Only one size is available.


Breakfast bowls are available with three bases: yogurt parfait (cold), porridge (warm), or scrambled eggs (warm).  All include quinoa as a primary component.  As with lunch bowls, they have a few suggested pre-designed options, or you can make your own.  Since I don't like eggs, it was easy to rule out the scrambles.  Both the warm porridge and the chilled yogurt parfait sounded tempting.
Yogurt Quinoa Parfait. $2.95.
"Cool and refreshing parfait in a bowl blended with a kick of coconut and honey."

I opted for the chilled yogurt and quinoa parfait.  The standard recipe includes sliced almonds and fresh fruit on top, with a bit of honey, vanilla, and coconut miked in with the yogurt and quinoa.  To that you can add/sub dried cranberries, raisins, brown sugar, agave, and extra fruit and nuts.

I opted to double up on the fruit.  I pondered adding agave, but, when I looked at the nutrition stats, the base quinoa yogurt mix had 15 grams of sugar, so, I assumed it would be plenty sweet (plus, it said it had honey).

I opened up my bowl, and it looked pretty good.  Just the right amount of sliced almonds, and plenty of fresh fruit, strawberries and blueberries.  Doubling up on fruit was a good idea, I think half as much would have been a little weak.

The nuts were a good addition, and added a textural crunch.  The fruit was also pretty good, fresh enough, although I did wind up with a strawberry stem in my bowl.  Those "robots" could do a better job cleaning the fruit.

As for the quinoa-yogurt, I was a little surprised on my first bite.  It wasn't nearly as sweet as I was hoping.  The quinoa was a mix of both red and white quinoa, and had a bit of a crunch to it.  It was mixed with yogurt, slightly tangy, slightly creamy.  The overall result and texture was quite fascinating, creamy yet with a bit of grit, and I actually really liked it.  But, it was a little too un-sweet for my liking.

There was a large group of workers stationed around the room, so, I went and asked one if it was possible to get a little agave.  She said sure, and came back moments later with a little pot of agave.  Once I added agave, I really liked this.  It was creamy, it was crunchy, it had fresh fruit, and it satisfied my sweet tooth.

The portion was also good, fairly small at first glance, but the quinoa was filling, and it filled me up easily until lunch.  It felt healthy and satisfying, a rare combo for me, particularly for breakfast, as I usually go for more decedent options.

I'd gladly get this again, and my order would be double fruit, plus agave.

Breakfast Test Items

I stopped by Eatsa once when they were testing out some new items to consider for the breakfast menu.  Instead of bowls, they were trying out a really unique concept: savory biscuit-scones, topped with veggies and egg.  Not breakfast sandwiches exactly, as they were open faced.  The branding they were looked at was "egg in a scone" and "egg in a savory biscuit".  It didn't quite work, and as far as I can tell, this was a limited test that didn't ever get offered to the public.  Still, it was fascinating enough to share here, even if you can't try it yourself ...
Pesto and Tomato Test Item.
As I said, it was not quite a breakfast sandwich, as it was open faced.  I loved that they used a far more interesting base than just a standard english muffin.

So, let’s start with the base, the savory scone-biscuit. It was … ok.  I didn’t love the texture. Obviously, a classic crumbly scone texture wouldn’t work here, since you didn't want this to crumble, but it was a bit too dense.  It also had no tang that a good biscuit or scone does.  And the bottom was a bit hard, perhaps from whatever heating technique they used?  It had savory, flavorful herbs throughout.

Next, the egg.  It was … also just ok.  Clearly a fresh egg, not some strange microwaved patty creation that many fast food or fast-casual breakfast sandwiches tend to use.  But the white was a bit slimy.  The yolk was runnier than I prefer, but, that is just personal preference.

Next, my toppings.  I went for the tomato and pesto version.  The pesto was very flavorful, and slathered on in a nice amount.  The tomato was two slices of roma tomato, soft, warm, and nice flavor with the pesto.  On top was also a bit of melted cheese, but, not much.

Eating this item was a bit difficult. You lose the one handed easy eating nature of a breakfast sandwich due to the open faced format. You can sorta pick it up and eat it, but once you get into the runny yolk, that makes a pretty big mess and I don’t think one-handing can possibly work at that point.  So you resort to a fork, which then becomes strange too.  So, the format is fascinating, but, a bit hard to manage.

Overall, a very interesting idea and I’m curious to see where they go with it.  But, for now, my impression is that there is a reason we normally make our breakfast sandwiches closed on both sides, or, decide to put eggs inside our savory pastries (aka, Craftsman and Wolves egg-in-a-muffin).


Lunch is the main focus for Eatsa.  The menu is all built around bowls, served hot or cold.  And yup, most involve quinoa.  All are vegetarian, many vegan.   There are only three side dishes: house made potato chips, chips and guac, and fruit salad.  No desserts.  Drinks are house made sparkling flavored sodas, like citrus, ginger lime, and mango guava, plus ice teas.  No cans of standard soda or bags of generic chips here.

As with breakfast, some recommended bowls are on the menu, but you can opt to create your own, or make any substitutions you want.  Bowls are all $6.95, but if you want to add additional items, then there are extra charges ($0.75 for most items, $1.95 for fancy add-ins).  A basic bowl comes with 1 choice of base, 1 sauce, 1 cheese, 1 crunchy, and 4 veggies/fruit.

The cold bowls are salads, using greens for the base (kale, mixed greens, arugula), with a huge assortment of options for toppings, ranging from raw veggies (jicama, tomato, cucumbers, cabbage slaw, green onion, avocado, green pico de gallo, salsa fresca, guacamole, assorted herbs like cilantro), to cooked and marinated veggies (roasted yams, pickled onions, roasted red peppers, portabello strips - bbq, miso, or asada, grilled corn, artichoke hearts, calamata olives, roasted potatoes), to proteins (garbanzo beans, tandori tofu, egg, chipotle black beans, seasoned pinto beans, edamame, truffled egg), to crispy things (tortilla strips, crispy onion strings, pita chips, crispy wontons - plain or curried, fried chickpeas, croutons, curried parsnip strips, pecans), cheeses (cotija, white cheddar, feta, queso mexicano, goat cheese), and of course, fun dressings (three types of ranch - roasted jalapeno, bbq ranch or house, creamy balsamic, citrus vinaigrette, chimichurri sauce, orange miso, creamy buffalo sauce ) and chilled quinoa (red, greek style, or lemon-herb).  The pre-created recipes are the Mexican "Cantina Kale Salad", a Southwestern "Smokehouse Salad", and a Greek "The Mediterranean".

Warm bowls have even more variety, based around warm quinoa (lemon-herb or stir fried with egg), and then all sorts of sauces and curries (dill yogurt sauce, cucumber raita, saag paneer, corn curry, teriyaki sauce, chili, red thai curry, teriyaki sauce, roasted garlic chili sauce, or even szechuan fire oil), plus any of the other toppings.  The recommended bowls are the Indian "Spice Market Bowl", a Mexican "Burrito Bowl", an Asian "Bento Bowl", another Indian "No Worry Curry", and "Chili con Quinoa".

Whatever variety of cuisine you are looking for, as long as it is healthy and based around a bowl, you can build.  So many possibilities!

I finally got a chance to try a bowl when I was headed to the airport, and wanted something tasty to bring on board.  This limited me to cold options only, but I can't wait to get to try one of the warm ones, I'm particularly eying the one with paneer!
Smokehouse Salad - with Modifications  $6.95.
"White Cheddar, Mixed Greens, Crispy Onion Strings, BBQ Portabello, Tomato, Grilled Corn, Cucumber, BBQ Ranch Dressing, Pickled Onions, Toasted Red Quinoa."

"No mixed greens, No cucumber, No tomato, No white cheddar, Add tender kale, Add cotija cheese, Add salsa fresca.  Add jicama."

I started with the base recipe of a Smokehouse Salad, but, did modify it by removing 4 items and replacing them with others, as my label clearly communicated, listing out the items I removed and added, and concluded with "and more ...".

Ordering through the app on the phone was easy, and it was clear to understand what I could substitute free of charge, and what would incur extra.  I ordered on the phone when I was a block or so away, and was given a 3 minute wait time, but, the final "1 minute" estimate remained for a good 5 minutes while I waited.  It kinda reminded me of Uber estimates, in the totally unreliable sense ...

My bowl came with my choice of green covering the entire base, and then my veggies, protein, cheese, and crunchy elements each in distinct piles around the outside, plus scoop of quinoa and my container of dressing in the center.  I liked that everything was kept separate so I could try each component individually, and then begin assembling and mixing as I wished.  I imagine this also would help it hold up for a little while if you needed, as the wet ingredients stay in one place and do not soggy up the others.

At the base, I replaced the "Mixed Greens" with "Tender Kale", as I just tend to like kale more than mixed greens (and both sounded better than just arugula, the other option).  The kale was fine, it was actually baby kale, which I wasn't expecting.  It was fresh enough, and a bit bitter, in a good way.  I didn't love it though, and I realized that what I really wanted was baby spinach, sadly, not an option.

I kept the "Toasted Red Quinoa" as my grain choice, as I wanted a cold bowl so the hot options were out, and red quinoa seemed more interesting than the white options of "Lemon-Herb Toasted Quinoa" or "Greek-Style Quinoa".  That said, I almost left the quinoa out entirely.  I can't say I'm a fan of quinoa, or grains in general, particularly in my salad.  However, I thought that the "toasted" quinoa might be a bit crunchy, and, I do appreciate some crunch in my salad.  I also hoped there wouldn't be too much quinoa, just enough to add some texture.  

It ended up being more quinoa than I really wanted, and, it was moist, not crispy like I hoped.  That said, there was nothing wrong with it, it was just quinoa.  I'd likely leave it out in the future, although it makes me feel bad, since quinoa is there main attraction.

For cheese, I went for cotija, since the included "White Cheddar" sounded kinda boring, and I do like the crumbly, salty nature of cotija.  I also considered the "Queso Mexicano", but I wasn't quite sure which Mexican cheese it really was.  Isn't cotija a Mexican cheese too?  Really, I wanted the saag paneer, but, that is served warm, and really made absolutely no sense with my bowl.  For next time.

I really did not like my cheese choice.  I like cotija, but, it was strangely very dry in this bowl.  It also just didn't have much flavor.  I regretted this choice more than any other, and certainly wouldn't get it again.  Maybe I should have stuck with the white cheddar?  Or gone for the vague "Queso Mexicano"?  I think that was a shredded option.

With the veggies, I stuck with the included grilled corn and the pickled onions, but replaced the cucumber with jicama and the tomato with salsa fresca.  I don't dislike cucumber or tomato, but, salsa fresca seemed like strictly an upgrade from just tomato, and I thought jicama would add a better crunch and similar juicy element as the cucumber.

The corn was a hit, as I love corn, and the slight grilling added a bit of char on it.  I wished my bowl had even more corn.  The pickled onions though I really didn't like, they were too tart, too slimy.  I wouldn't get these again.

The jicama came as little cubes, and didn't have much flavor, as expected, but added freshness.  It went really well with the dressing too.  Like the corn, I wanted more (by the way, you can double up on ingredients).  The salsa fresca was a bit disappointing, as the tomato cubes weren't very ripe.  Maybe I should have stuck with tomato.  Since tomato was in season, it was particular tragic to have such lifeless, not even red, tomato. 

The crispy topping was the hardest choice for me.  In the end, I left the included Crispy Onion Strings, but I really do love Crispy Wontons (although, hmm, they probably wouldn't go so well with my other choices in this rather southwestern style salad).  The Fried Chickpeas sounded really fun too.

The crispy onion strings were great, basically exactly what you'd expect, and I loved the generous portion.  I love that all bowls include a crunchy element.  I'd definitely get this again, or explore other options just to mix it up.

For my extra, I left the BBQ Portabello, but, I was tempted by the Miso Portabello instead (although again, probably not the best match for my theme) or the Truffled Egg (but, that is served hot).

The BBQ portabello was a complete shocker.  It was really good.  I know other reviewers all say this, but, I just didn't imagine mushroom would be that tasty.  I loved the smoky nature and the seasoning, and it was big, bold, and even a bit meaty.  Sure, it was slimy, and it was mushroom, but, it totally worked for me.  I wanted more of this too.

And lastly, the dressing.  I kept the BBQ Ranch, although, again, there were several others that sounded pretty good, like the Roasted Jalapeno Ranch and the Creamy Buffalo.  The dressing was good, creamy, smoky, flavorful.  I liked it, and would get it again, but, I'd also love to try some other options.

Overall I liked my creation, and everything in the bowl was well prepared, decent quality.  I didn't love it though, partially because I made some poor choices, and partially because I'm just unlikely to get all that excited about a salad and grain bowl in the first place.  For the most part, I was happy with my choices, but I clearly have some refinement to do.  If I wanted to stick with the southwest theme, I'd try a different cheese, double up the jicama, and try the regular tomato.  I think I'd leave out the quinoa, and stick with the suggested mixed greens.  But really, I'd like to try something else entirely, likely asian inspired, with the crispy wontons and miso portabello included.  Or, go in the hot curry direction, so I could have the saag paneer.  So many possibilities.

For <$7 a bowl, it won't break the bank to experiment some, and the portions are quite generous, my bowl was more than enough to fill me up.
Eatsa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato