Blended bowl of fruit is not all it's cracked up to be
Acai bowls and pitaya bowls from Playa Bowls are pretty, I’ll give them that. Lots of colors, pretty fruit, little honey waterfalls — they’re exciting to look at, but not so exciting to eat. If you want to buy yourself a $10 bowl of Instagram likes, be my guest.
Playa Bowls were pretty much all I saw in my Instagram feed this summer, so I was excited to finally try one. Maybe I expected too much from a bowl of blended fruit with more fruit on top, because it was just meh.
Playa Bowls is truly a great place to take pictures. It’s colorful, fun and there’s a mural of a pineapple outside. There’s some counter space indoors and a few tables outside to sit and eat your super cute, but not-so-yummy bowls.
First off, a brief history of "playa bowls.” While they have a variety of bases, the most common and traditional is an acai base. Acai has been a staple of the Amazonian diet for a long time and possibly forever. Around the 1970s, acai bowls became popularized throughout Brazil, eventually making their way to the United States where they would grow even bigger and be topped with even more things.
I’m sure an acai bowl eaten fresh on a Brazilian beach would be delicious. A pre-blended acai bowl eaten on the streets of New Brunswick? Not so much.
I ordered the “Electric Mermaid Bowl,” which is a pitaya (dragon fruit) based bowl blended with banana, pineapple and coconut milk topped with kiwi, mango, granola, coconut shavings and honey. It was stunning and very beautiful. I Instagrammed a picture of myself with it because it matched my outfit, but I didn’t finish it. Why, you ask? I literally got tired of eating it, which is pretty rare for me considering I will eat just about anything.
Maybe going the pitaya route was a bad choice. Dragon fruit is fairly watery and not incredibly flavorful. The base of the bowl was a beautiful, bright purple color, but it tasted very bland and had a chalky texture. It gets some points for not being too sweet, at least, which is what I was expecting.
The toppings made it a little better. The kiwi, granola, pineapple, coconut flakes and honey were all solid, but the mango was super under-ripe and sour, which definitely put a damper on the experience. The granola, although organic, definitely wasn’t “healthy” granola. It was super sweet and full of dried blueberries. It was also my favorite part of the bowl.
I ended up ruining my pretty bowl by stirring everything together in an effort to get some flavor into the bland abyss of smoothie base. It wasn’t terrible, just not something I particularly wanted to eat.
If I ever went to Playa Bowls again, I would definitely get something different. I tried my friend’s coconut-based playa bowl and liked it even less than my own. I don’t want to talk about it.
I think an acai bowl could possibly be good. They use Sambazon brand frozen acai, which is the brand I use when I make smoothies and I like it a lot. You can also customize your toppings, so maybe if I covered my Playa Bowl in Nutella I would have liked it — there is still hope.
Besides bowls, Playa Bowls makes smoothies. They are super expensive and I didn’t try one, but I’m imagining it’s pretty hard to mess up a smoothie. They also have lots of different juices if you’re feeling adventurous.
Maybe go with a friend and split a bowl so you’re not spending $10 on a thick smoothie with toppings.