If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of looking back at where we’ve come from so that we can move forward to build a better future for ourselves and the world around us. For Bowlcut cofounder Crystal Ung, her experience growing up in her family’s restaurant not only cultivated her love of food but taught her the power it has to unite and bring together different cultures. Here, Ung discusses why she launched Bowlcut, what food and cooking mean to her, and what’s next for the brand.
Why did you decide to launch Bowlcut?
Bowlcut was born during the pandemic. Like most of the world, we were home cooking more and realized there weren’t a lot of options on the market for Asian sauces without additives, a ton of sodium and sugar. This was particularly alarming as we started to connect the dots that our parents’ health conditions were directly tied to sauces they consumed every day.
This was also right around the time that there was a rise of violence against Asian Americans. My cofounder, Adrian, and I grew up in our parents’ restaurants, and we saw firsthand how food can unite people and bridge cultures. With the notion that food can drive empathy, we decided to launch Bowlcut, a brand inspired by our parents.
What do food and cooking mean to you?
Food has always been the primary love language in my life and family. Cooking has helped me feel tethered to the sense of home since I have moved away. With Bowlcut, we wanted to offer that sense of comfort to everyone, wherever home may be.
Where does the brand’s name come from?
Bowlcut is a playful nod to the common Asian American experience we had as kids — rocking the bowl cut! It was important to us to have a name that reflected a shared experience while capturing a fun and lighthearted spirit unique to us.
Do you have a favorite Bowlcut recipe?
Yes! Dad’s Wontons + Chili Crisp (see recipe below).
Are there any exciting launches on the horizon?
Follow us on social media for all news regarding future launches.
Dad’s Wontons + Chili Crisp
12 oz. ground pork
12 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger
¼ cup scallions, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
½ tsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. white pepper
2 packages wonton wrappers
Bowlcut Chili Crisp
1. Combine pork, shrimp, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, oyster sauce, oil and pepper in a bowl. Mix and fold 5 to 10 minutes, until consistency becomes sticky like a paste.
2. Fill a small bowl with water. Take a wonton wrapper and fill middle with a teaspoon of filling. Moisten edges with water, fold in half like a triangle and press sides to seal. Take two corners, moisten edge and place together to create a circular shape. Repeat until all filling is used.
3. Boil wontons until they float, then boil an additional 2 minutes.
4. Garnish with Bowlcut Chili Crisp and scallions.