Make an Insta-Worthy Grain Bowl at Home

-Tess Berger

(Source: Audrey Morgan)

When fast-casual restaurant Original Grain made its downtown debut at the end of August, it rocked the Syracuse food scene overnight. Located on South Salina Street, OG brings grain bowls from LA and NYC to a small city known for sauce-slathered ribs and giant plates of pasta. The concept for OG was the brainchild of local entrepreneurs Chris Bily, Matt Goddard, and Eric Hinman, who wanted to develop something deliciously unexpected and 100 percent healthy. The solution: a “Cali vibes, NY fresh” joint that serves up super smoothies and Hawaiian-inspired poke bowls. Its signature poke bowl, the Great Swell, is OG’s most popular—and arguably the best dish on the menu. “It’s healthy, it’s beautiful, it tastes good, and you feel good afterward,” says Hinman. The bowl is a deconstructed take on a spicy tuna roll, according to Bily. Make your own by stocking up on these key ingredients.

Ahi Tuna

Health-wise, ahi tuna is packed with protein—a mere six-ounce serving will fulfill more than three-quarters of your daily intake. OG’s super fresh fish also delivers a melt-in-your-mouth texture, balancing out the crisp veggies. “We get it fresh, cut it raw, and let the sauces and everything else do the work,” says Bily. If you’re DIYing make sure to buy sushi-grade fish.

The Grains

The bed of grains is the bowl’s foundation. “It really sets the stage,” says Bily. When it comes to your grain base, OG has two options: bamboo rice or original grains. The rice is steeped in bamboo, giving it a cool chlorophyll tint. The original grains—a mix of brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth—is the healthier alternative. If you’re keeping it wholesome, go for this mix, but Bily notes that it won’t absorb as much flavor as the rice.


The veggies give the bowl contrast in texture and flavor. If you’re dealing with post-weekend hydration, add cucumbers—they’re 95 percent water and have anti-inflammatory properties. The peppery radish has a crunch that rivals the cuke’s, and is a great source of vitamin C. Shredded carrots add a pop of vibrant color and a satisfying bite, plus they keep your skin bright and glowing. And is there any meal that hasn’t benefited from the addition of avocado?


These Hawaiian-style beans add a pinch of sweetness to the Great Swell. They’re slightly crisp on the outside but tender on the inside, hitting you with a one-two punch of texture. Plus they pack the bowl with even more protein. Cool beans.


Nori is edible seaweed, and according to Bily it gives the poke bowl an “umami-y, seafoody vibe” that brings the dish together. It’s insanely healthy for you too—loaded with protein, a variety of minerals, and vitamin C.

Spicy Sauce

This sauce is so flavorful that Bily says he would even eat his socks if they were drizzled with it. The spicy concoction is basically mayo with an Asian flair. To make a similar version at home, combine prepared mayonnaise with equal parts sesame oil, sriracha, and lemon juice.

Black Sesame Seeds

These seeds provide yet another unexpected texture, and they bring a visual contrast to the color wheel of ingredients in the bowl. And, you guessed it, they’re ridiculously nutritious—each serving has more calcium than you’d find in a glass of milk.

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

This delectable dressing is the icing on the cake. It’s bursting with flavor and allows each element to soak up its tangy and toasty notes. Bily says it’s probably his favorite dressing ever. But you don’t have to take his word for it—to replicate the dressing at home, try this recipe from Epicurious: combine ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 2 clove garlic, chopped, 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar, 2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger, and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil in a blender.

A shortened version of this article appeared in our Fall 2016 issue. Check it out here!

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