Photos by Clarissa Villondo, words by Kaylee Dugan
Sweetgreen made a few changes this year. First, they introduced their warm bowls, effectively stepping into the dinner category with meals made with rice and quinoa. Then, they doubled down on their effort to make healthy bowl and stopped offering both sriracha and bacon. Which is why their collaboration with Erik Bruner-Yang half makes sense and half doesn’t make sense at all.
Let’s deal with the easy to understand stuff first. Sweetgreen is from D.C. Maketto is from D.C. Maketto was a vendor at the first Sweetlife festival. They’re both going after the same young and hip, yet conscious and quality aware crowd. These are the things that all make sense. On the other hand, Maketto and Bruner-Yang have made a name for peddling food that doesn’t quite fall in line with Sweetgreen’s more serious ethos. Maketto is known first and foremost, for its fried chicken.
Of course, the bowl can’t have fried chicken. A company that won’t stock sriracha can’t turn around and start selling fried chicken. That way lies madness. So instead we get a combo of wild rice, roasted chicken, sesame roasted tofu, ginger cabbage slaw, cucumbers, cashews, mint, cilantro, basil, chili-tamarind dressing and a squeeze of lime.
And you know what? Even though it doesn’t have fried chicken in it, it’s pretty damn good. It’s really the variety of textures that elevates this bowl, you have the moist chicken / tofu paired up with the chewy (in a good way) rice and then the snap of the cucumbers and cashews. It makes it interesting and enjoyable to eat. The flavors are fresh and on point, without being overbearing and aggressive. This bowl won’t give you bad breath or stink up the office. It’s good work food that transfers just as well into the home.
Because neither Maketto or Sweetgreen are your traditional restaurants, they threw a huge opening party to celebrate the release of the bowl. There was a make your own kimchi station, there were bouquets by Urban Stems, cocktails by Absolut Elyx, and (most importantly) there were dragon drummers. It was a cool and very Instagram friendly way to kick off the event, not to mention the Taiwanese beer was the perfect counterpoint to Sweegreen’s bowl and Maketto’s spicy noodle offerings. I’ve never seen people party so hard over a rice bowl, but I’m not opposed. Good food is always a reason to party.
The Maketto Dinner Bowl will be available in all Sweetgreen locations from November 3 through January 4, 2017.