Buku Bowls, the newest entry in UCR’s food truck lineup, is, to put it simply, the restaurant UCR deserves. Announcing itself with its bold orange and black color scheme in its Bell Tower and Sproul Hall locations, Buku is an exciting take on the campus food truck concept, and its affordable offering of customizable bowls with a veritable selection of tasty toppings is sure to make it a Highlander favorite.
The food truck serves a menu consisting of rice, mac and cheese, udon, tater tot and salad bowls, with a large variety of protein toppings such as spam, chicken or (our favorite) crispy steak, all garnished with vegetables and flavorful seasoning. For this review, we tasted the Buku Mac bowl with Grilled Steak and the Spam Musubi Rice bowl (both $7.99).
The steak bowl was a delight from beginning to end. The juicy and tender beef was a far cry from the chewy beef often found in food truck offerings. Spiral pasta covered in cheese formed the “mac” base, with a creamy texture that did not degrade into drippy greasiness. Green onion slices on top added a fresh flavor, and the addition of sriracha (available at Buku’s condiments table) gave the whole bowl an exotic, sour note. Overall, for eight dollars, the Buku Mac with Grilled Steak is a must. Given the perfect delivery of protein topping on a cheesy pasta base, the other mac offerings can only be tasty as well.
Unfortunately, this satisfaction doesn’t apply to all of Buku’s offerings. The Spam Musubi Rice Bowl is an interesting take on a Hawaiian favorite, featuring rice, spam, quinoa and steamed vegetables, all topped with seaweed and seasoning. While an interesting concept, the spam was unfortunately somewhat unpleasantly salty, the quinoa interfered a bit with the taste and the rice base offered little in the way of texture. The veggies were a plus, cooked well and featuring tasty, crispy onion. Unfortunately, the bowl’s inability to combine its constituent ingredients into a delicious meal leaves it at a net zero.
Overall, Buku Bowls is a refreshing new addition to campus and providing another outlet for hungry students’ cravings can only be good. Although its menu items may not all be equal in quality, the definite highlights are a compelling reason to Be Bowl’d and give it a try.
—Andreas Rauch, SSW and Martin Lopez, SSW