Worth it?: Açaí Bowls

March 7, 2017 — by Michelle Lee and Katherine Zhou

Juniors try new restaurant.

After watching BuzzFeed’s viral “Worth It?” series, in which content creators test out common food dishes at three different price points, we started our own challenge: trying açaí bowls, trendy smoothie bowls with healthy toppings.

Right before watching Bombay in the Bay, we rushed over to Cupertino, where Vitality Bowl Cafe is located. Although we got there around 6 p.m. on a Saturday night, there was barely anyone in the establishment.

We  quickly browsed the menu and decided to order the cheapest option, “Vitality Bowl,” which includes organic açaí, bananas, strawberries, flax seed, organic granola, honey and goji berries. We ordered the medium size, plenty enough for two friends to share. The cost was around $11, the most pricey of all of the different bowls we tried.

However, to justify the expensive price tag, the cafe had a soothing atmosphere, with “Instagram-able” wood-paneled walls and free wifi. The service was also really fast, as the bowl was made in around 5 minutes.

When we got to trying the bowl, it was extremely sweet because of the honey, and the smoothie had a frozen-yogurt-like texture. It seemed like it was enough to fill our stomachs, but after sitting through the 3-hour Bombay in the Bay show, we were starving, and we didn’t feel the “endurance” and “energy” the vitality bowl promised.

After finding that Michelle had unused Jamba Juice gift cards on hand, we decided to try their version of an açaí bowl.

Jamba Juice only provides one size option for their “Açaí Primo” bowls at $7.49. Although it may seem like a good value, it ended up being about the same as Vitality Bowl. The bowl contains açaí, soy milk, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, coconut shreds, honey and granola for a total of 490 calories.

And while the picture in the store’s acai bowl poster advertised lots of fresh toppings, the actual bowl ended up lacking fruit and granola, and seemed underwhelming in comparison. The smoothie base was watery, like a traditional smoothie, unlike the yogurt-like texture of Vitality Bowl. It was more like a breakfast than a treat.

After visiting the first two places, we decided to challenge ourselves to create our own açaí bowl, partly because we found some açaí sorbet lying around in Katherine’s freezer.

We used one pint of Amazon Planet açaí sorbet, made up of frozen açaí puree and sweeteners, which cost $6 at Sprouts. Then, we added frozen bananas to add sweetness and creaminess to the bowl, and adorned the bowl with toppings.

Although we didn’t have all of the toppings we wanted, we made it work by using chopped strawberry popsicles instead of strawberry slices and ground-up granola bars instead of granola to create a surprisingly appetizing dish. We placed it in a metal bowl, the kind Vitality Bowl offers, and drizzled honey over the top.

The bowl ended up being delicious and enough for three people to eat. The açaí flavor peaked through the toppings, and the bowl tasted healthy with no overpowering taste of artificial sweetness. We could add any toppings we wanted and customize the smoothie base. Plus, it was more cost-efficient to make it ourselves, especially since it was so simple.

In the end, we decided the most “Worth it” at its price is the DIY-option. Our conclusion: It’s relatively easy and convenient, and most practical to make your own açaí bowl when you’ll undoubtedly crave more tomorrow.

 
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