Before it became a superfruit that adorned the Instagrams of vegan yogis-in-training, acai (pronounced 'ah-sigh-ee') was more commonly found on the shelves of traditional Chinese medicine shops. But trust us – there's nothing bitter and herbal about these acai bowls.
Blink and you might miss this little shop tucked unassumingly in the crowded basement of Raffles Places. Parallel specialises in acai bowls and Common Man Coffee Roasters specialty coffee – likewise, its menu is short, simple and straight to the point. The bowls come in two sizes (from $8.90) and are as pretty as they come. Topped with banana, blueberries and granola (or you can go for even more unusual toppings like goji berries and dragonfruit), the bowls are all naturally sweeten with no added sugars. If you like your slurp your superberries, the extra-smooth and thick acai smoothies will be right up your alley.
Haakon, pronounced ‘haw-coon’, is a Scandinavian-inspired café that brings superfoods from Norway to your plate. It only uses premium Norwegian smoked salmon – it’s rich in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants – to make dishes like salad bowls ($11.90) and eggs Benedict ($15.90). For those with a sweet tooth, go for Haakon’s classic acai bowl (from $7.90), topped with coconut flakes, banana, strawberries and blueberries for a quick and guilt-free energy boost.
Project Açaí puts this berry superfood front and centre at its Holland Village café. The berry features in bowls ($6.80-$13.50) with toppings like granola, fresh fruit and goji berries, as well as smoothies ($8.50) like the Beach Body To-go. The acai is smoothly blended and doesn’t melt easily but we later find out that although they are mixed with other ingredients, the acai purée comes pre-packaged from Sambazon, the same brand that Park Bench Deli uses in their acai bowls.
To bring the health food home, pick it up in packs like the original blend with guarana ($12.85/one pack, $21.40/two) or pure unsweetened ($15/one pack, $26/two) to make your own acai bowls. They also sell freeze-dried acai powder ($40/tub).
Project Açaí has another branch at Ngee Ann City.
Selva is the supplier for Salad Stop’s acai bowls, which quickly sell out after the lunch crowd, so if you’re looking to have it as a mid-afternoon snack, get there early.
The bowl ($11) comes with banana, mango, kiwi, grapes, pumpkin seeds and a generous scatter of chia seeds. Despite its apparent popularity, the taste of acai is barely discernible. If we could rename this, it'd be called 'acai-inspired purple yogurt'.
Not just a hot lunch spot, Aloha Poke morphs into a chilled-out happy hour bar with a dinner menu, and yes, acai ($9) is part of the dessert options. The serving of puréed berries is shallow and melts quickly, likely due to its icy, crunchy consistency. The sweet treat is topped with blueberries, granola, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple cubes, and a sprig of mint. Go for it if you have a craving for sugar but in need of a healthier way of having it.
The minimalist café dedicated to acai serves up Brazilian bowls ($5.90-$8.90) and the Absolute Acai signature bowls ($7.50-15.50) in small, medium and large. There’s the option to make your own ($4.90-$10.90), with add-on toppings of seeds, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit or superfoods, like bee pollen and dried goji berry ($0.50-$1). The staff only disclosed that their blended acai comes from a supplier and is further puréed with apples and bananas to sweeten it. They claim to add no extra preservatives.
The purée is smooth in texture and there is a lot of granola at the top and layered at the bottom of the bowl so each scoop of acai comes with a crunch. However, the acai was partially melted by the time we dug in, made worse by Singapore’s hot weather as we sat outside the air-conditioned shop.
The quaint deep blue façade, bar seats and the lure of the deli’s sandwiches busting with meaty fillings are the main reasons for patronage. But look up at PBD's huge menu and the acai bowl ($8) is the first thing you'll see. It’s advertised as a smoothie topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey and coconut flakes. The acai comes from Sambazon – a brand said to specialise in organic fruit – and is puréed with apple juice, banana and a little lime juice.
When the bowl arrives, in place of the usual coconut and honey is a scatter of chia seeds to accompany the strawberries and blueberries. The first few bites are a mix of salty sweetness due to the generous amount of nuts in the granola. But things rapidly deteriorate – although it's a generous portion, it's essentially acai-flavoured water in a bowl.