Tom tries it: NCC rice bowl rivalry

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This week for “Tom tries it,” I’m scouring North Central’s campus in search for the best rice bowl. In comparing Freshens’ aptly named “Mexican Rice Bowl” and Moe’s maybe not so aptly named “Earmuffs,” the competition isn’t as clearly divided as in times past. On NCC’s campus, however, one thing is for sure: the price is rice.

Freshens

Freshens’ Mexican Rice Bowl is loaded to the brim, walking back to Oesterle from Res/Rec it was like carrying a small weight with me. On top was a thick layer of thickly shredded cheese, red onion and some type of dry chipotle seasoning. I couldn’t help but feel that all of the 710 calories were coming, once again, from the excess of ranch dressing and processed cheese—just like their Southwest Chipotle Chicken Salad.

Photo by Tom Miller

The salsa offered the same profile that would be expected of cold, uncooked tomato sauce. The lettuce that topped the unseasoned base of white rice was again of a suspect nature, and the black beans were the same cardboard-flavored beans from last time. Freshens didn’t skimp on the chicken however. They loaded this bad boy up with two heaping spoonfuls of unseasoned chopped chicken—fresh from a bath of strange liquid that was situated behind the counter.

For the exact same combination of ingredients and the addition of rice, Freshens Mexican Rice Bowl rings up at $7.60—over a dollar cheaper than their Southwest Chipotle Chicken Salad. Once again, I was left disappointed by Freshens, and while this wasn’t much better than the salad, I can honestly say it was a full half-star better. One-and-a-half stars for Freshens’ Mexican Rice Bowl.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Calorie count is a bit hard to determine with Moe’s as they offer a Chipotle-style bar of toppings. I attempted to recreate, as well as possible, the same exact thing that was offered by Freshens, so calorie count should be similar. Moe’s makes up for the quality ingredients by upping the price when compared to Freshens: $8.47 for the Earmuffs bowl.

Photo by Tom Miller

Seasoned, Mexican-style rice is the base here and floats a heavy-load of grilled peppers and onions, Chipotle-seasoned chicken, flavorful salsa, lettuce and guacamole. Moe’s is a bit frugal with the chicken, but at least there was no mysterious chicken juice for the bowl creator to drain off of it. Everything here seemed to be held up to a higher standard than down at Freshens—a welcome surprise.

In sum, neither of these rice bowls were outstanding and the price at Moe’s seemed to be a bit of a deterrence—why shouldn’t I just get Chipotle? I’ll give Moe’s Southwest Grill three out of five stars just due to the quality of their food, which is well above Freshens. Despite the rating, neither of these bowls come very highly recommended.

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