Finding a non-chain restaurant that works as both a date-night spot and family favorite isn’t always easy—especially when some family members are vegetarian and others aren’t. But Alameda’s newest family-run restaurant checks off all the boxes. The modern, sleek aesthetic and approachable Korean cuisine qualifies Bowl’d BBQ as a date-night favorite, and the tasty vegetarian take on Kimchi and other traditional dishes makes it a hit with the whole family.
A True Family Business
Bowl’d BBQ is the fourth eatery sisters Jessica Oh and Chi Moon have opened in the last 5 years after working with their mom in the restaurant business for more than a decade. Jessica and her husband handle the day-to-day logistics, Chi handles design and training, while their mom cooks signature recipes perfected through decades of cooking experience.
Choose Your Own Meal Adventure
With an variety of tables, bar, booth and outdoor seating, anyone can get comfy at Bowl’d BBQ. And the menu offers options for those looking to try adventurous new dishes or simply indulge in familiar favorites. Kids love the Kids Rice Bowl with shredded veggies, toasted seaweed, a side of soup and protein of choice, as well as the slushies! With nine flavors like Kiwi, Peach, Strawberry and Mango it’s easy to see why. Jessica told us that another family fave is Veggie Jhap Chae shared amongst the whole clan. The portions are also perfect for all appetites: One main entree comes with eight side dishes and a soup! Ordering a few appetizers and entrees would be perfect for a family of four (with leftovers). Plus, you can go home knowing the kiddos actually got some veggies in their meal!
Korean for Beginners
Jessica says that one of the reasons Bowl’d BBQ is so popular already (it’s been open just a few weeks) is because of the restaurant’s mission: To introduce Korean food to people who may have never tried it before by making it approachable. Because not everyone likes the strong fishy flavor of traditional kimchi, Bowl’d uses a delicious (seriously) vegetarian recipe, and also offers customization with every order so that customers can choose whether an item is vegetarian, gluten-free or has a certain choice of meat. Bowl’d also changed the names of some of the traditional dishes and added pictures to their menu to make customers who are new to Korean food feel at ease. The staff has been trained to go over the menu and answer any questions.
Dinner and a Show: Bibimbop
When you go, we highly recommend ordering the Bibimbop, which is served up in a hot stone bowl. This meal is a full experience, as the rice dish features 12 different vegetables, plus whichever protein you choose. Then watch your dish cook right at the table—mix it altogether when you are ready to eat! Don’t miss the best part: the crispy rice at the bottom of the hot stone bowl. Owner Jessica says this is her favorite part and it reminds her of her childhood. Another favorite is Bowl’d BBQ’s version of KFC—Korean Fried Chicken. Whether you eat it spicy, soy-glazed or as classic BBQ it’s bound to hit the spot (It’s one of the top-ordered items at Bowl’d right now, followed by Bibimbop and Kimchi Pancakes).
Looks as Good as it Tastes
The aesthetic is the final element that sets Bowl’d apart from other Korean restaurants. The modern colorful exterior draws people in, and the light-filled, color-drenched interior makes you want to stay awhile. Sisters Jessica and Chi hired local artist David Kim to create a masterful mural for their side patio wall that ties everything together.
2201D S. Shore Center Dr.
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Have you been to Bowl’d BBQ? What is your family’s favorite dish? Tell us in the comments below!
–Shari Wargo Stamps