Açai has taken off in popularity in recent years, ever since being discovered by both health food fanatics embracing its various “superfood” properties and Instagrammers appreciating the incredibly photogenic qualities of açai bowls. Açai is one of the healthiest berries you can find, but while they are packed with various nutrients that can help your body’s digestive and cardiorespiratory systems (among other widespread claims), açai bowls can be a risky trap due to their high-sugar content, with many of them containing up to 50 grams of added sugar per serving through sweeteners and juices. It’s interesting to note that the açai berry itself contains close to no sugar in its natural state, while also being incredibly high in antioxidants. It is, however, common for stores to add high levels of sugars, sweeteners, and syrups to their bowls while also diluting them with ice and water.
Enter Milk and Honey, a newly opened store just off Hollywood Boulevard on Highland Avenue. The first of its kind in the country, the company aims to present açai in its most natural form — without refined sugars, added juices, sorbet, or artificial sweeteners as fillers, and with a range of quality organic ingredients.
Its six different bowls, named “Wellness Bowls” feature a blend of either açai or pitaya (also known as dragon fruit), blended with a mixture of various other natural ingredients to create a distinct flavor extension of that icy blend base. The Tropical Berries Wellness Bowl features a base of either açai or pitaya, blended with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and organic almond milk. That base is then topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, organic almond slices, organic hemp granola, and organic shredded coconut. It’s a true celebration of natural freshness. And surprisingly, the end result isn’t anywhere near as sweet as what I’ve previously come to expect from açai bowls, with the various textures and colors of the bowl providing wonderful variety in each bite. The Hawaiian Blast bowl, with a base of coconut cream, pineapple, mango and organic soy milk, is topped with fresh pineapple, honeydew, coconut meat, organic hemp granola, and organic shredded coconut. It’s so refreshing to see coconut meat — a truly underappreciated ingredient — being used to give the bowl that added layer of texture. It provides a wonderful depth to the bowl, and the vibrancy of the flavors combined in this particular combination suit the sunshine-filled Californian warmth perfectly.
A slightly more unusual collection of ingredients is found in Milk and Honey’s Immune Fighter Bowl, pairing a base of acerola cherries, California bee pollen, banana, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and organic soy milk with toppings of fresh strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, organic hemp granola, and organic shredded coconut. The result is gentler and significantly less sweet than its counterparts, while still being incredibly energizing and vibrant in flavor.
Above all, Milk and Honey’s Wellness Bowls are some of the most aesthetically pleasing foods you’ll find in Hollywood. Indeed, the author of this article potentially spent more time photographing his bowl than he did actually eating it, which is saying a lot, considering how large the serving received was. General manager Steve Grunkemeyer acknowledges that part of the Wellness Bowl’s appeal is not only its quality ingredients, but also its stunning appearance. “We want it to look beautiful,” he tells me. “We want you to really love what you’re eating.”
On the other end of the food spectrum, Milk and Honey’s Waffle Cakes provide a warmer alternative for those seeking something a little heartier from the carbohydrate department. A slightly unusual pairing to make with açai bowls, the various waffle cakes are an Asian-inspired sweet or savory vessel filled with different toppings. The actual waffle cake itself is wonderfully dense, while still being spring-back fluffy, with cake flavors including black sesame and matcha green tea; this is then filled with flavors such as honey smoked salmon and Sriracha bacon for the savory, and vanilla bean cream and mint dark chocolate for those with a sweet tooth.
There’s an infectious energy and raw effervescence about Milk and Honey that’s carried through its menu. Put simply, its açai bowls treat quality fresh fruits and vegetables in a creative and exciting way, and the amalgamation of açai and pitaya with other rich, flavorful ingredients to create a unique bowl base sets this particular brand apart from the many other Californian açai locations that have come to fruition with the recent healthful trend. It’s a perfect summer treat that you’ll feel less guilty about, and a picture perfect bowl your social media will be eating up too.