The way we eat has changed so much over the past decade. What once used to be a simple affair of ordering from your favourite hawker stall has evolved into a complex ritual that involves hard decisions with a near-impossible number of permutations. We’re talking about grain bowls.
In Singapore, grain bowls have caught on so fast that it’s spurred a legion of restaurants to adopt the business model. They were not only seen to be a healthier alternative to many local staples, but also vastly more interesting than a bed of mesclun salad topped with boiled chicken breast. Grain bowls finally made eating healthy interesting — and actually achievable in the long run — again.
The last thing you need as a busy professional is to be stressing out on finding a healthy meal. Here are the best grain bowls in the CBD to hit up for your next quick lunch fix.
We’ll go ahead and admit that grain bowls can come across as mundane at times, and that’s where Wafuken comes in. The Japanese establishment at OUE Downtown Gallery ( there’s another branch at Asia Square Tower 2 too) is well-loved for its protein items, with meats cooked sous vide to retain their tenderness. The chicken breast with the donburi option – comprised of rice, onsen egg, daikon and red cucumber pickles – is a favourite but opt for the salmon with wakame and cucumber salad for a lighter alternative.
Grain Traders has been at the forefront of the grain bowl boom ever since it first opened at Capitagreen, thanks largely to the sheer number of options this restaurant provides. While its pre-designed Hero bowls make for convenient and quick takeaways, the DIY route remains to be the popular choice here. Grains here not only include the usual suspects — think brown rice, soba, and quinoa — but also more elusive ones such as bulghur wheat.
The protein options are equally varied, ranging from slow-roasted pork and sous-vide and chargrilled salmon, to a vegetarian lentil patty. All these are paired with sauces such as coconut curry, miso caramel and beetroot-feta-yogurt — now all that’s left to do is to make very difficult choices.
Established by Singaporean-Korean brothers Eugene and Edward Chia, Dosirak is a healthy take on its namesake, which means packed lunchbox in Korean. As a modern iteration of the traditional Korean meal, Dosirak offers choices of proteins that range from seared tuna and beef bulgogi to kimchi tofu. White Korean rice comes as standard, but upgrades to the healthier five-grain rice or cauliflower grains are also available. As a fun twist, Dosirak is best prepared by adding your choice of sauce (the Omma Gochujang is a signature) to the mix and popping the lid back on, before giving it a good shake.
Kitchen by Food Rebel’s promise of only using ingredients that are organic, hormone-free, sustainable and locally produced is one that’s hard to come by. Vegans will find plenty of options here; the beetroot hummus and tofu-avocado mash are especially popular for being chock full of protein and good fats.
Meanwhile, those craving Asian flavours should try the Thai-inspired quinoa, which incorporates beetroot-flavoured quinoa with an aromatic lemongrass and lime leaves-infused salad. The restaurant also caters to allergies with plenty of tasty nut-, dairy-, and gluten-free options.
You won’t miss the Autobus; the bicycle-themed cafe offers more than just racks of bikes to admire and expensive equipment to purchase; it’s also serves up a mean grain bowl for the health-conscious office-goer.
The lunch menu from 11am — 4pm features DIY protein bowls with tasty seafood options such as teriyaki grilled squid and slow cooked sea bass. Those coming straight from workouts can also opt for recovery shakes and smoothies. Portions are known to be substantial here, so come hungry.