Vietnamese in Aisle 10

Kowalski’s surprises with new Lemongrass Bol de la Vie

The best thing to happen to desperate meal-makers in the last few years has been the emergence of the quick-serve Big Bowls at Lunds and Byerly’s. The food is fresh and tasty, you can get all the veggies the doctor ordered, and they meet you where you are, in the grocery store. What can Kowalski’s do to compete? Introducing the new fresh-and-quick Vietnamese concept Lemongrass Bol de la Vie, now open inside the Woodbury store.

An early visit left me quite impressed. They offer three soups, served in big 24- or 36-ounce bowls. Especially good is the kicky ginger-coconut curry broth. After choosing a broth, you get to customize your dish with a choice of protein (pork, chicken or tofu), rice noodles, red bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, onions, fresh julienned ginger, edamame, radishes, basil, scallions, cilantro, jalapeños, and more. The broth still stays zingy with all the additions, and you head home with a spicy, healthy bowl of energy.

The salads—crunchy masses of veggies united by a veil of good dressing—might be even better. Skip the banh mi sandwich, though: the vinegar flavor from the pickled carrots overwhelmed the other layers.

If you live in Woodbury, this place is worth checking out. If you’re a Kowalski’s shopper elsewhere, ask your manager for a Lemongrass Bol de la Vie—it will make your hectic weeknights much, much better.

Kowalski’s Woodbury , 8505 Valley Creek Rd., Woodbury, 651-578-8800,;