Noodles and Company BUFF Bowls Review and a Giveaway!
Summer is nearly here, time to shed the clothes and and the extra bulk off our plates. When people talk about eating lighter, that used to mean strictly salads and even to this plant-based girl that sounds like a punishment. However, over the course of the last few years restaurants have begun to listen to the demands of their customers and little by little the salad has grown up.
Recently Noodles and Company stepped into the ring to offer their versions of the new and improved salad: The BUFF Bowl. Essentially, they took their noodle bowls and subbed out the pasta for spinach, genius! I was contacted by a company PR rep to try them out and I happily accepted the invitation. Let's get to it.
There are four BUFF Bowls:
1. BUFF Pesto
2. BUFF Tuscan Fresca
3. BUFF Japanese Pan
4. BUFF Bangkok Curry
All can be made vegetarian, however only the BUFF Tuscan Fresca (#2) and the BUFF Japanese Pan (#3) ordered without feta are vegan, so these are the BUFF Bowls I will focus on.
The BUFF Tuscan Fresca took me by (pleasant) surprise as the tomato sauce in this bowl is quite robust. I enjoy big bold flavors and there was no holding back on this one. It was a tomato explosion as there were plenty of fresh tomatoes topped on a generous bed of spinach. Red onion and garlic also make an appearance, but are not as apparent. Noodles and Company feature this Bowl with chicken, but I subbed out for the tofu and again, there was no shortage. They used a firm tofu which they cubed into bite sized pieces and gave it a quick fry for crispiness. This Bowl is hearty and you will not leave hungry.
The BUFF Japanese Pan is a lighter dish, yet still flavorful. This is your all grown up summertime salad. Again on a generous amount of spinach, sits broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms (yes!!!!) that have all been marinated in a light and sweet soy sauce dressing. I added grilled and marinated tofu, they topped it with Asian sprouts, black sesame seeds and cilantro. I could eat this everyday.
Before I went in for the tasting, I posted to my Facebook page and asked if you had any questions and here are the answers to those inquiries:
1. Q. What is in the sauces and the broth? ( a note from Noodles and Company Corporate: Below are the main, but not all, ingredients in the sauces.)
A. Fresca Sauce:
Lemon Juice, Sriracha, Oregano, Basil, White Wine, Garlic, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, Balsamic Vinegar, Mustard Powder, Salt
Coconut Cream, Coconut Milk, Sweet Chili Sauce, cardamom, dried red chili, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime peel, mace, salt, shallot, turmeric, garlic
Japanese Pan Sauce:
Sesame Oil, Rice Vinegar, Molasses, Lemon Juice, Soy Sauce, Hot Chili Sauce, Garlic, Ginger
Olive Oil, Basil, Garlic, Parmesan
2. Q. Are the noodles gluten free and is there sesame in the sauces?
A. They do have two types of gluten free noodles (there are no noodles in these BUFF Bowls), however, if you are highly sensitive to gluten they want you to know it is not a gluten free operation, so there could possibly be some cross contamination. The representatives I met with in the restaurant say they take food allergies very seriously and they will work with anyone's requests. As for the sesame, there is not any in the sauces and the seeds can be left out of any dish.
3. Q. Can any of the Bowls be ordered with tofu?
Before I left our tasting I extended my thank you for inviting me in and complimented them on moving forward on creating healthy vegetarian/vegan options to their guests. it's so nice to see a restaurant franchise not only listen to their audience, but also deliver to the requests. Bravo, Noodles! Now, here's my request: Are we able to swap out the spinach for say, zucchini noodles? This keeps the noodle in the bowl and it still remains unprocessed and ultimately very healthy. Think about it...
If you'd like to try a BUFF Bowl for free, simply leave a comment below on how you are incorporating more plants on your plate this summer and I will send you a coupon for a complimentary Bowl valid in the St. Louis locations only. The deadline is June 12.
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What do you think?