There's a new trend on the Memphis dining scene, and hopefully one that's here to stay — healthy offerings. The build-your-own salad bowl has become a leading part of that trend, and Zaka Bowl is the latest to surface, this time with a full-of-flavor vegan slant.
"I went vegan in February 2014 after doing a lot of research on factory farming," Zaka Bowl's co-owner, Ed Cabigao, also the co-owner of South of Beale (SOB), says. "I weighed 220 pounds at the time. About six months later, I got down to 180."
As he considered opening a second restaurant after SOB's now seven-year run, and continued to lose weight once he picked up running, he wanted to share the health.
"That whole experience made me passionate about that kind of lifestyle," Cabigao, who owns the two restaurants with his wife, Brittany, says. "I always knew I wanted to open a second restaurant, and I knew I wanted to meld my love of the restaurant industry with my lifestyle goals."
Zaka Bowl is clean, simple, and engaging.
Diners walk into a colorful and graphic-laden room and up to the counter, where they begin to create their bowl. A plant-based biodegradable bowl, with lid options, I might add.
First they choose a base from four options, such as Garlic Olive Oil Quinoa, Wild Rice, Vegetable Noodles, or Chopped Spinach. Then they add H.I.P. veggies — "high in protein," not bearded, tattooed, with a ukelele, or whatever the kids are doing these days — choosing three from a list of options such as Smoked Portabella, Roasted Tofu, Mustard Herb Cauliflower, Lemon Garlic Broccoli, or Agave Brussels Sprouts. Then come three Hot and four Cold Garnishes, including Roasted Beets, Cinnamon Chili Sweet Potatoes, Rosemary Carrots, Guacamole, Pickled Jalapeño, or Pineapple Pico, among many others.
The salad artist can then add as many housemade sauces as his or her heart desires, including Creamy Avocado, Green Tea Vinaigrette, Coconut Curry, Sriracha BBQ, Sesame Soy Vinaigrette, and the Zaka Sauce, a sort of comeback sauce but vegan. I'll take a bowl of the Coconut Curry sauce, please.
There are a couple of featured bowls on the menu, including the Zaka Flocka Flame and the Samurai Soy, as well as House Blended Juices, such as Pineapple Mint and Blueberry Lemonade.
All bowls are $10.
"I wanted to make something that's easily accessible," Cabigao says. "And I know how much better I feel after I eat a bowl of veggies."
Zaka Bowl, 575 Erin, 509-3105
Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
All of Midtown is abuzz about the latest in cultural cuisine offerings — DWJ2, which opened in the old Greencork space the week of Cooper-Young Fest.
Korean food devotees may know that the "2" stems from its being a second location for DWJ owners, and brothers, Hwan and Jun Lee, who opened the original DWJ in East Memphis in 2002 and is now at Hacks Cross and Winchester.
"We had decided to open another restaurant, and we were looking at Ole Miss or Denver, Colorado," Hwan says.
"The partner of the landlord dined in our first location, and enjoyed the food and dropped the question if we would like to be their new tenant," Jun says.
They describe their food as traditional Korean food with an update.
They offer pajeons, bibimbap, stir fry, noodle dishes, rice dishes, hot pots, some extremely intriguing fish dishes, as well as the whole barbecue experience, with grills at every table and the option to finish cooking your food if two people order from the barbecue menu.
Prices range from $9 to $34.
"We're very satisfied with the response," Hwan says. "There has been a really positive vibe. I didn't know people would be so excited. I can't stop smiling."