The acai berry ― which can be found in Central and South America ― has been gaining traction amongst the health-conscious community as a nutritious fruit.
Being consumed by high profile celebrities certainly has not hurt the berry’s increasing global popularity either.
So, what might these berries do for one’s diet?
“Acai berries may be a good source of antioxidants, fiber and heart-healthy fats,” stated an expert on the Mayo Clinic’s official website, adding that research on the hip berry is “limited” with health benefit claims yet to be proven.
While more research may be conducted to continue to assess its benefits, acai as a food source is nothing new.
In fact, the berries have been a dietary staple amongst inhabitants of the Amazon in South America for years, according to a New York Times article.
Now, the berries are being consumed throughout the world.
In fact, the growing popularity of the fruit, which are seen as rich in antioxidants and a powerful source of energy by fans, has led to the availability of a wide array of acai-based supplements, powders, chews and juices on the market.
“I heard it is good for one’s skin,” said Boto Acai manager Kim Sung-soo, who advocates the berry as a health food.
The acai bowl is another increasingly widespread way of consuming the fruit, where the fruit’s pulp forms a delicious smoothie base that is then topped with fruit and granola for a cool, satisfying treat.
Coupling acai’s global reputation as a “superfood” with how it tastes as a sweet treat, it is not surprising to see that a bowl of that tasty pulp as a snack or meal alternative has become something of a growing trend.
Now, Kim is eager to share his take on the trendy acai bowl at Boto Acai, a small spot that opened on Seoul’s Garosugil on April 26.
“You can get acai bowls easily in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii,” said Kim, 31, explaining how this is not the case in Korea, where it is harder to come by.
“I want a lot of people to get to taste our acai bowls and experience how healthy they are,” he said.
Passersby can take up a perch on one of the spot’s 20-something seats, which Kim says was designed to provide a relaxed hangout with a laidback beach vibe where regulars can shoot the breeze and dine on Boto Acai bowls.
The Boto Acai bowl is topped with fresh fruit, granola, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, goji berries, chia seeds, raw bee pollen and mint. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
The Boto Acai bowl, says Kim, is topped with fresh fruit like mangoes, strawberries, bananas and blueberries; and garnished with finely and coarsely shredded coconut, chocolate chips and mint.
“We only use fresh fruit,” he said.
In addition to that myriad of fruit-centric toppings, Kim also adds goji berries, raw bee pollen and chia seeds ― all frequently called “superfoods” as well ― to the bowl, explaining how he can also customize toppings for customers with food allergies.
The base itself is crafted from frozen acai berry pulp and guarana extract. Guarana fruit, which grows in South America, boasts a high caffeine content, according to Kim.
In short, it looks like the Boto Acai bowl is meant to be an invigorating treat, with two South and Central American ingredients that are touted as serious energy boosters in the mix.
For now, the guarana-infused, basic acai berry base will be the only bowl on the menu, with sizes ranging from small to large.
“We want to introduce people to the basic acai bowl first,” said Kim.
Kim revealed plans to add different varieties in the future, like a mixed berry smoothie base featuring acai pulp. Boto Acai
● 551 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (02) 516-3686
● Open noon to 10 p.m. daily
● Acai bowls cost 5,500 won for a small, 7,500 won for a medium and 12,500 won for a large serving
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org