Sunday, May 21, 2017

Destination California

The current "destination" for Chopt's limited time salads is California, and all three of the options sound so good. We skipped the last destination - Pacific Northwest - because we had just gotten home from the Pacific Northwest and didn't really feel like trying them after having the "real thing." We decided some salads would be the perfect dinner for a recent, very hot night, and chose to try two of the California specials.

The first was the spicy Koreatown noodle bowl made with beet and carrot "noodles," Korean chicken, scallions, celery, a blend of napa cabbage, sunflower shoots, and sorrel, fried shallots, and the recommended spicy sunbutter dressing. This bowl was very good. This salad felt so light, perfect for summer, probably because the greens were dominated by crunchy napa cabbage. The flavors of the chicken were good, and the chicken combined well with the scallions, celery, and greens. We aren't really sure what went into the spicy sunbutter dressing, but it seemed like a good match.

If we were to point to any negatives, it would be that the shallots barely had a presence (sadly), and that the beets and carrots weren't really "noodles" like you would think of spiralized vegetable noodles. They were more like shaved vegetables, and once chopped, it was just like adding bits of carrots and beets to a cabbage-based salad as opposed to being the primary base. It was a good salad though and we were glad we got it. Very light, which is exactly what you need some days.

The other salad we tried was the spicy Sonoma Caesar which they advertised as being "back" so we guess they offered this at one time but we had never tried it. The Sonoma Caesar had a base of kale, romaine, and purple cabbage, and added chipotle chicken, avocado, parmesan quinoa crisps, and pickled cherry peppers, along with the recommended creamy Caesar dressing. This was a much heartier salad than the Koreatown bowl, almost entirely because of the kale. The texture of the kale was good, not that tough or chewy, just very hearty. The parmesan quinoa crisps were tasty, and I even remember remarking that if they sold those in bags as a snack, I'd consider buying them.

The chicken and avocado were good too, but the dominant flavor here came from the pickled cherry peppers. They were pretty hot, so if anyone can't tolerate spice, they might want to stay away from this one. (Yes, the salad is called spicy, but often things salad places label spicy aren't that spicy to me.) It was definitely nice having the avocado and the creamy Caesar dressing (and the Koreatown bowl) to counteract some of that heat. A liked this one better, but I couldn't decide between the two. There's one more from the California set - the grain bowl - and we definitely want to try that before the specials are over.

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