This Bowl: Americans lose it as cult Aussie takeaway Fishbowl chain opens in NYC

A cult-Australian lunch option has landed in the US, sparking mass excitement among Americans — but not everyone is impressed.

Nic Pestalozzi, Nathan Dalah and Casper Ettelson founded Fishbowl – a healthy fast food chain selling Asian-inspired salads – in 2016 after opening their first store in Bondi Beach.

There are now 46 stores across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland — and earlier this year the chain expanded to New York City, opening its first international restaurant under the name This Bowl.

But while many have been raving about the Aussie restaurant’s arrival in the US, describing This Bowl as New York City’s “most viral lunch spot”, the new restaurant has also been met with some controversy.

TikTok food bloggers @sistersnacking are among the fans, describing the restaurant – which sell luxe salads bowls for $US17 (about $A25), as “worth the hype”.

“Picture overflowing bowls of fresh veg, warm sushi rice, salmon crudo, miso eggplant all piled high with tons of housemade toppings,” the duo said in a viral video.

“People are calling this one of the best lunch options and even quick dinners because we are going to be craving their bowls and we can’t wait to work through their whole menu.”

Caitlin Emiko, an Australian currently living in the Big Apple, claimed This Bowl opening in New York was “a big deal”.

“It was so good. I feel like I am a Sweet Green hate — a bit of a hottake — but I feel this is what New York is missing,” she said.

“Something that is so yummy and so affordable.”

‘So good’: US loses it over Aussie chain

Caitlin added that she thought so many Americans were going to be “obsessed with it”.

American Carly Weinstein also headed to the store in order to try the poke bowls, pointing out a huge line forming in front of the store.

“The bowls looked so good,” she said, before pointing out a key difference between the US version and the Fishbowl that Aussies know and love.

At Fishbowl in Australia there are a handful of canned or bottled drinks but in the US there are a variety of sodas that come in plastic cups. Carly said she and her pal tried a “lime seltzer drink” and a pineapple soda.

Carly and her mate rated the bowls, telling everyone they needed to try the chilli jam when ordering at the restaurant.

“This place is just a 10/10. The food quality is incredible. It’s everything I could need and more,” she said.

Other social media users echoed the compliments.

“This looks so good but $17 (AU$25) is so expensive,” one social media user commented.

Another said: “Can confirm: it was SO GOOD.”

“Fishbowl supremacy!!! You guys are missing out on the shroomami bowl,” one added.

Another said: “I would eat this multiple times per week.”

However, not everyone was a fan of the chain, with some taking offence at the idea that a group of Aussies invented poke bowls.

“I’m Aussie but Fishbowl isn’t even Australian. Poke bowls are Hawaiian,” one social media user said.

Another added: “Do you actually think Fishbowl invented poke bowls? Have you been overseas?”

One added that Fishbowl is poke which had been “stolen from Hawaii and gentrified”.

“Poke is a Hawaiian and Japanese dish,” another agreed.

The comments aren’t wrong. Poke originated in Hawaii with new flavours such as soy sauce being introduced in the 1970s and 80s when Asian immigrants began to settle on the islands.

However, Nic, one of the Fishbowl founders, told that Fishbowl isn’t a poke bowl business.

“Firstly, we’re not poke and don’t claim to be, poke is from Hawaii, and is a very different style meal to the salads we serve,” he said.

“We serve salads, they’re full of vegetables, and an array of proteins. Poke is all about raw fish, it’s great, but it’s not what we do.”

He also revealed the choice to rebrand in the US as This Bowl is because Fishbowl is no longer aligned with their current menu offerings which features chicken, beef and vegetarian options.

“We will likely do the same in Australia,” he said.

There was backlash last year when Alex Mark ditched her job as a corporate lawyer to open an Australian-style sushi restaurant in New York City.

She was labelled a “coloniser” and accused of “cultural appropriation” by US chef Eric Rivera after she opened Sushi Counter and sold “Australian-style” sushi.

“But it’s ‘stralian sushi. Give me a break coloniser,” the chef wrote on social media.

“If you don’t see why this is a problem, you are the problem.”

While many blasted Alex online in an attempt to have her cancelled, others including TikToker Jack Mac came to the Aussie’s defence in a video seen by 3.2 million people.

In a fortunate twist, back in November, the social media user revealed when he later visited the restaurant to show his support, he discovered all the sushi had sold out.

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