Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TBG Eats: The NEW Southwestern Chicken Bowl from Jack in the Box

Current Weight: 166.4 lbs.

December marks the seventh anniversary of my internet writing debut. Throughout my long, winding road of CD reviews, weekly music news columns, infrequent sports features and this lightly-read blog, I've been known to reference The Simpsons once or twice.

the 1998 episode that opened up with Homer chauffeuring his brood to a post-church, free sample brunch at "Eatie Gourmet's"? Homer famously proclaims "If it has a toothpick in it, it's free!" He then eats whatever he can impale with his thin, one-inch piece of wood.

The fast food "bowl" phenomenon can be similarly – and ignorantly – generalized. If I remember correctly, Jack in the Box was the first national burger-centric chain to roll out chicken bowls. I vividly remember the smell of surplus teriyaki sauce from a drum filling the back of the frozen yogurt shop I assistant managed back in 1994-95. The 18-year-old waifs who discreetly nibbled from the bowls were convinced they were eating healthy.

And, if you ignored the grotesque sodium content in pretty much anything "teriyaki", I wouldn't argue the point.

Other fast food spots soon brought out their own bowls. But, while JitB's steak and chicken teriyaki bowls contained just 11 and six grams of fat, respectively, other restaurants' offerings were a bit more bad for you. Regional chain
El Pollo Loco – a company whose entire business model is based on healthier eating – features a chicken Caesar salad bowl (22 grams of fat) and the "Ultimate Pollo Bowl" (1,047 calories, 34 grams of fat, 2,516 grams of sodium).

While the above nutritional information is readily available on El Pollo Loco's website and within their restaurants, the chain has wisely positioned these fat bombs bowls under the warm glow of their brand's "heart-healthy" aura. But, bowls filled with poultry aren't always healthy…right,

All of which brings us back to Jack. And, yes, I have been trying to work in that transition for years, thank you. JitB unveiled their new Southwest Chicken Bowl last month with their usual offbeat 30-second spot. The first is kinda comical, but the last shot of the Black guy ruined it for me. Exaggerated afro humor in 2009? It wasn't funny
in 1988.

Oddly enough, the Spanish version has a much better payoff:

JitB's Southwest Chicken Bowl is made with fajita-seasoned chicken, rice, beans, veggies and topped with shredded cheddar, salsa and cilantro-lime sauce. To the untrained eye, this might be one of the least appetizing fast food menu items in a long time. The milky-green cilantro-lime sauce was everywhere and the obviously artificial flavor was overwhelming.

The chicken sits on top of the rice. It's a round(!) skinless piece of meat with pre-cut indentations that don't quite go all the way through. I'm not a fan of having to do more work on my meal than the kitchen plebes who prepared it, but there I was cutting, stirring and mixing.

Within a few bites, I was staring down at a bowl where the only remaining residents were rice and beans – intensely flavored with fake lime. In a dynamic bit of synergy, it seems Jack in the Box's Southwestern Chicken Bowl ends as weakly as their commercial.

Grade: 2 (out of 5) Calories: 713, Fat: 19g

1 comment:

MarcoFromHouston said...

I ate this today, and I rate it a 3.75 out of 5

I was surprised that I liked it (so much).

Then again, my bowl was not overpowered/drowned by the cilantro-lime sauce.