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Big Bowl, Reston Town Center


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Boy, I felt bad this morning.

I mostly blame that on not eating nearly enough yesterday when I was hungover as I was, then drinking beers all through the World Cup game just to wander over to Sushi Rock and have a few more.

So after a small breakfast that I choked down, and way too much Coke Zero, I sat through my training class thinking of what to get for lunch. I knew what I wanted...Asian food. For some reason it seemed like it would do me right.

My training is in Reston, and there's a sushi place right next door, but I most definitely did not want that. So I turned left instead and saw a place called "Big Bowl". That might be just the ticket, I thought.

Yikes was I wrong - and I was looking for cheap Asian food!

Well, for one thing, it ain't cheap. An order of chicken pad thai was $13.95. Sigh.

And for that, it was some of the worst pad thai I've had in this area. Way too sweet, way too much herbs, too soupy/greasy and I just basically felt like I was eating chicken cooked with Pledge over noodles that were nearly indistinguishable from the bean sprouts.

Egads.

They also had a salmon pad thai. Just the idea of that one made my stomach churn...more so after having tried the chicken pad thai.

(And it wasn't even a big bowl of pad thai! It was a small plate! And I couldn't finish it because it sucked!)

(I need some cheap ramen tonight I think to make up for it...)

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Welcome to the Reston Town Center. It's a Disney-esque experience, with no sense of place at all. Chains and chains galore, all charging what the high-end IT executive expense accounts will endure. Yet it thrives, because that's what thrives these days. Just look at the Food Network.

PassionFish is the only place I'll voluntarily eat at the Reston Town Center.

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And for that, it was some of the worst pad thai I've had in this area.

Actually i'll say it is the worst. Eaten at Big Bowl way too many times (at least never on my dime) and easily the worst excuse for Thai/Asian food around. I found the gigner shrimp to be particularly aweful - very strong artifical flavor that hits you. Their lettuce reps are tolerable though.

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I concur with the above assessments having been to BB only once. What I find odd is the parent company also operates Mon Ami Gabi just down the street. MAG is pleasant and offers surprisingly good food. Several recent lunch visits with colleagues revealed steaks, skate, pate, burgers and daily fish specials were enjoyed by all, service was attentive and informed and the wine selection by the glass decently varied and reasonably priced.

If I had to choose for Reston, I would opt for PassionFish (even Il Fornaio). I will certainly return to MAG. Never to Big Bowl.

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Please don't ever go here (again). Excerpt from my review:

I ordered the "Red Hot Pepper Chicken Noodles" which were absolutely horrible. The noodles were nothing half worth remembering and the entire dish reeked and tasted completely like Fish Sauce. I have never sent a dish back anywhere before, but just one bite into the noodles, and I had to.

I asked my buddy how his Beef and Broccoli was since that's the only thing he'll try at any Asian restaurant just to be safe. He gave it the thumbs up so I ordered it. When that came out I was once again extremely disappointed. The "Jasmine" rice that came with it was actually Minute Rice!! The beef came in a variety of oddly large slices and the problem of the sauce applied to this dish as well. It took a minute for me to realize that the "light garlic wine sauce" was pretty much just SOY SAUCE.

I tried a few bites of my friends custom bowl with the sweet and sour sauce and that, too, was a let down. Big Bowl can't even get their signature dish right.

The ambiance is the only thing this place has going for it. But that's very quickly overshadowed by the quality of their food. I would not recommend taking anybody here for any reason.

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Boy, I felt bad this morning.

I mostly blame that on not eating nearly enough yesterday when I was hungover as I was, then drinking beers all through the World Cup game just to wander over to Sushi Rock and have a few more.

So after a small breakfast that I choked down, and way too much Coke Zero, I sat through my training class thinking of what to get for lunch. I knew what I wanted...Asian food. For some reason it seemed like it would do me right.

My training is in Reston, and there's a sushi place right next door, but I most definitely did not want that. So I turned left instead and saw a place called "Big Bowl". That might be just the ticket, I thought.

Yikes was I wrong - and I was looking for cheap Asian food!

Well, for one thing, it ain't cheap. An order of chicken pad thai was $13.95. Sigh.

And for that, it was some of the worst pad thai I've had in this area. Way too sweet, way too much herbs, too soupy/greasy and I just basically felt like I was eating chicken cooked with Pledge over noodles that were nearly indistinguishable from the bean sprouts.

Egads.

They also had a salmon pad thai. Just the idea of that one made my stomach churn...more so after having tried the chicken pad thai.

(And it wasn't even a big bowl of pad thai! It was a small plate! And I couldn't finish it because it sucked!)

(I need some cheap ramen tonight I think to make up for it...)

This is my Public Service Announcement on what happens when you try a restaurant without first checking it out on Don Rocks. This weekend found me in Reston, eager to try a restaurant that I don't have closer to home. My phone's internet was running slowly, so I impatiently shut down the browser and just headed in blindly to Big Bowl... and to an almost exact repeat of SeanMike's experience from 2010. The only difference is that I actually tried the salmon pad thai, which the bartender recommended.

The salmon was served on the side cooked to the requested medium rare. That covers the nice part of this meal. Everything else about the dish was dreadful. As SeanMike said, it was like the whole dish had been cooked with Lemon Pledge. Acid was the overwhelming flavor of every bite. At least I won't be kicking myself that we don't have a Big Bowl closer to home. Lesson learned. I will be more patient with my phone.

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