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Bowl Explosion

Mar 05, 2018

Might I say that there is a “bowl” opportunity for most all ethnic cuisines, and most all dining segments—to include food trucks, carts, and fast casual through fine dining! We see College and Universities creating, with huge success, broth and bowl stations for their student population. The healthy halo influence, as well as variety of bowls offered, has proven successful. The B&I corporate segment is also expanding this offering.

Historically, in the United States, bowls were relegated to soup, salad, cereal and pasta dishes. With the ease of handling, the “bowl” offers operationally friendly dishes to build, easy to eat entrees for lunch and dinner offering warm aromatic broths, dressings or light sauces and colorful crisp vegetables, noodles, rice or grains. Healthy protein offerings are more the garnish than main event. Patrons enjoy the portability of the dish, as well as the ability to offer “build a bowl” your way.

Rice and noodle bowls have graced the Asian landscape for generations, offering healthy, flavorful, aromatic, filling and economical, ie. “complete meals in a bowl”. Fish and shellfish were often the main protein staple throughout Asia in the inception of these tasty bowl offerings, with limited availability of land based proteins such as chicken, beef and pork.

Today, bowl style dishes are popular delivery systems for Mediterranean, Latin, Mexican, Spanish and the Asian Rim countries of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Indian cuisine fits well into this eating profile with its emphasis on vegetables, chicken, fish and dairy enhanced by the infinite number of curries and gravies.

As chefs at Custom Culinary®, we work closely with national and regional chains, college and universities, health care and the US military to provide flavoring systems to create and enhance food, noodle and rice bowls of choice. Our recently created ready-to-use Passport Global Flavors™ Asian broths deliver authentic flavors, which include a Beef Pho Broth, Tonkotsu-style Pork Broth, and Thai-style Vegetable Broth. Enhanced with aromatics such as lemongrass, basil, lime, cilantro, and jasmine our Custom Culinary® broths provide the ability for quick and easy bowl builds with an array of added fresh vegetables, rice, rice or egg noodles and lean proteins served piping hot throughout the day, on the go or dining in.

We must note that noodle, broth and food bowl offerings provide a “bowl me over” food cost that is attractive to all segments of our industry. These bowls represent the “king of comfort”, enjoyed by millions and at this level of commitment will be endeared by operators for years to come.


Asian noodle bowls combine elements of rustic simplicity with complex, rich flavors—making this culinary category one of the most exciting to hit American menus in recent years. Rooted in traditional street fare, such dishes as Vietnamese pho, Malaysian laksa and Japanese ramen are considered essential comfort food by millions. And as American patrons become more familiar with these dishes, the nuances of technique and flavor from various cities and regions can add excitement to your menu. Take ramen, for example. The miso ramen of Sapporo, Japan is traditionally topped with sweet corn, butter, bean sprouts, pork and garlic; in Fukuoka, you’ll find thin noodles, crushed garlic, pickled ginger, sesame and mustard greens in a piping hot bowl of pork bone tonkotsu broth. Whether you choose to take on an authentic recipe or simply use a classic dish as inspiration for a brand-new build, the key to a memorable noodle bowl is ingredient quality. Aromatic broths, fresh herbs and vegetables, well-seasoned proteins and toothsome noodles deliver the textures, colors and tastes that come together in a feast for the senses.

Take your guests on a culinary tour of Asia with a trio of delicious noodle bowl recipes!

Watch our demo video

Whether you’re striving for authenticity or looking to put your own spin on a fusion dish, noodle bowls present a world of culinary possibility. Take a look at our latest menu ideas and recipes.

  RECIPES featuring Custom Culinary®  branded products

Vietnamese-Style Pho Broth Bowl

Passport Global Flavors™ by Custom Culinary® Beef Pho Broth delivers rich taste and aroma to this traditional noodle soup. View recipe


Sriracha Lime Ramen Bowl

Put a spicy, tangy twist on ramen with the addition of our Master’s Touch® Sriracha Lime Flavor Concentrate. View recipe


Japanese Soba Noodle Bowl

Gold Label Wasabi Ginger Ponzu Sauce brings just enough heat to stir-fried vegetables, chicken and buckwheat noodles in this tasty dish. View recipe


Tom Yum Veggie Noodle Soup

The perfect option for vegetarian guests, featuring Passport Global Flavors™ by Custom Culinary® Thai Style Vegetable Broth. View recipe


Traditional Tonkotsu Ramen

Passport Global Flavors™ by Custom Culinary® Tonkotsu Ramen Pork Broth serves as the authentic foundation to this on-trend soup. View recipe


  MENU INSPIRATION featuring Custom Culinary®  proprietary products

Bibim Naengmyeon

This dish features a savory chilled broth made from Custom Culinary® Korean Soybean Soup Concentrate, loaded with sweet potato noodles, chili paste, thinly sliced brisket, button mushrooms, pickled radish and spring onion.


Chimichurri Tsukemen Ramen

Chewy ramen noodles are topped with a tea egg, green onion, shaved beef and Custom Culinary® Green Onion Sesame Chimichurri, served alongside a bowl of shoyu ramen broth for dipping.


Umami Noodle Soup

Complex flavors come alive in a broth made with Custom Culinary® Roasted Garlic Black Bean Sauce, layered with chili noodles, scallions, radishes, mushrooms and seared pork belly, topped with fried garlic and chili strands.


Coconut Tamarind Laksa

Thick rice noodles are served in a fiery curry broth made with Custom Culinary® Coconut and Tamarind Sambal, topped with shrimp, bamboo shoots, scallions, red onion, cilantro and lemongrass.


Our unique products help you create distinctive, richly flavored soup broths and noodle dishes without the time or labor required for scratch cooking.  



  • Korean Soybean Soup Concentrate
  • Green Onion Sesame Chimichurri
  • Roasted Garlic Black Bean Sauce
  • Thai Basil Chili Chutney
  • Coconut and Tamarind Sambal

*Products are customized; please contact your Custom Culinary® representative for more information. 


Here are some of the upcoming industry events where you’ll find our team. Please reach out to your Custom Culinary® representative if you’d like to set up a meeting at one of the following conferences:


Chain Operators EXchange (COEX) / Las Vegas, Nevada / March 18-20

Market Vision Spring Purchasing Conference / Palm Desert, California / March 19-21

FSMA Innovation Escape / Dallas, Texas / April 17-18


If you haven’t already, be sure to download our latest white paper: “6 Steps for Insight-Driven Menu Innovation". Download here. Learn how to set up a profitable made-to-order noodle bar in your operation with our “Raising the Bar” guide. Download the PDF here.


Jim Harvey dives into the global evolution of bowl meals with a closer look at the noodle, rice and broth bowls hitting today’s menus. Read the blog post>> 



FlavorIQ® from Custom Culinary® is a revolutionary approach to product development. Our four-step process delivers fast, intelligent menu innovations to meet your needs. Click here to learn more about Custom Culinary® and FlavorIQ®.

Comments (1)

Closing food cost an excellent point.
- Jimmy

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