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Bowlcut Shares Authentic, Asian Sauces Inspired By Family Restaurants

by Rudy Sanchez on 05/05/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Bowl cuts are a hairstyle achieved usually by placing a piece of kitchenware over the head and trimming along the edge. 

The bowl cut has earned little fashion acclaim, but it has remained popular among Asian Americans for decades. Theories abound as to why; perhaps the bowl cut’s low-cost and pragmatic execution explains its prevalence. Maybe the popularity lies in the no-fuss, clean, and neat aesthetic that works well on many heads. Wherever the truth lies, the bowl cut is a common cultural touchstone among Asian American communities across the country, and it's now the name of a new line of sauces and condiments.

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“Bowl cuts are very popular in Asian cultures, and one theory I have is that it's perceived as cute,” says Bowlcut co-founder Crystal Ung. “In Japan, there's a whole culture around kawaii—cute, lovable, and adorable. Kawaii culture gained traction in the US among Asian Americans and non-AAPI. In the 90s, the bowl cut took on many variations—like the mushroom—and became quite iconic, like in Dumb & Dumber.”

“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, lighthearted spirit unique to us,” adds Crystal Ung. 

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Along with co-founders Adrian Ng and Will Kang, who also run studio Aether NY, the trio was inspired by their shared upbringing as kids of Chinese immigrant restaurant workers and the seeing how tasty food can bridge cultural gaps. Bowlcut was conceived amid the pandemic when racist attacks rose against members of the AAPI community.

Bowlcut’s lineup includes a ready-to-use char sui BBQ sauce, chili crispy, and spicy chili crisp. All three offerings come in visually clear jars with black tops, and the transparent packaging takes advantage of the vibrant hues of Bowlcut’s all-natural ingredients. Plus, the front of the container is a balance of old-school Asian restaurant condiments, such as the guardian lion head in the center, and contemporary aesthetics like Bowlcut’s stylish logo.

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“We wanted our brand to capture the essence of the night market and street food culture that we grew up with—from the bold illustrations and neon signs to the colorful posters plastered against rustic walls,” says Will Kang. “Our brand reflects that festive energy while maintaining a Lo-Fi, chic vibe.

“Our sauce labels feature the Fu dog icon, a traditional Chinese symbol of protection and a nod to our Asian heritage," adds Adrian Ng. "We also love that there’s a version of the Fu dog across different Asian cultures. This classic symbol combined with our palette of bold colors and shapes bridges the heritage of our recipes with a taste of contemporary flair."

Taking recipes learned in family restaurants, Bowlcut modernizes traditional flavors in the best ways by using natural ingredients sourced as locally as possible while turning down the sugar and sodium. The brand identity and packaging design also bring together heritage and modernity with a strong, authentic voice that rallies people around food.

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“Having grown up in our parents’ restaurants, food establishes a sense of place, past or present. Traditional meals helped us feel tethered to home, even as we moved further away as adults," Will says. 

"We want to bring that sense of comfort to everyone,” he adds.

Images courtesy of Bowlcut.

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