Ah-sigh-EE.

What is Acaí and why is everyone into it across the country? My first experience with acaí bowls was on a college campus as one of its food court options. We tried it and thought it was good, but there’s more to this acaí than meets the eye. Here in Bakersfield, owners of Rio Acaí Bowls Justin and Sophia Cummings have been serving it up for about 3 ½ years and they do it well. Dani Munoz, is the regional manager of the two Bakersfield locations. On our visit, you feel healthier just walking in the door. It’s a cozy atmosphere with a natural wood wall as the focal point and to order, you go through the back as if your entering the kitchen to get your freshly prepared meal. They’ve made a space that is comfortable and enjoyable to dine in.

The Paleo ($8.50, medium size):

On first bite, it’s a different kind of flavor, but once you get into it, the flavors really meld together. The creaminess with the almond butter and banana slices; the sweet tanginess of the acaí berry, which has a sorbet consistency; and the crunchiness of the chunky coconut shavings makes for a refreshing experience.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s more to this acaí than being a tasty treat; its other name is the Brazilian “superfruit.” It’s a berry from the Amazon that packs a lot of nutritional benefits – as in 500 percent more antioxidants than blueberries, omegas, iron, fiber, protein, and vitamins A and C. Even though it tastes sweet, it’s somewhat high in fat and low in sugar. The list of benefits goes on and on from lowering your cholesterol, boosting brain function to possible anti-cancer effects. It tastes good and it’s good for you, so next time you want to load up on ice cream, try this out.

The Hawaiian ($9):

Rio doesn’t just have acaí bowls. In fact, half of its menu offers a savory companion – poke bowls. Poke is a Hawaiian fish salad. Rio’s poke bowl is essentially a deconstructed sushi roll with sticky rice, raw ahi tuna, sesame seeds, and some nori or seaweed to add a subtle crunch.

Rio has three different kinds of poke bowls, but they all expand from its Hawaiian bowl. Because there aren’t too many ingredients in this dish, the stars are the scallions and ahi tuna. The two complement each other harmoniously.

Rio’s poke bowls are drizzled with a keen helping of ponzu sauce, which is soy sauce jazzed up with some citrus elements, adding more dimension to the poke bowl’s flavor profile.

Overall, poke bowls are a quick, satisfying and savory answer to that lunchtime sushi craving. If you’re looking for something a little more involved, Rio also offers a kimchi poke bowl and spicy poke bowl.

Rio has two locations in Bakersfield, and if you have a flavor craving and can’t make it there, they deliver to your home or office during the week. Make them a part of your next healthy luncheon, party or special event. 

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