In the Bowl makes everything extremely spicy. Anything you order should be taken down at least one notch on your usual star rating. On a recent visit, the waitress asked many times if our food was too spicy—maybe because my companion was dripping sweat into his "roasted duck" soup. Take this warning to heart, but don't let it scare you—the food here is really tasty. My sweating friend was grinning from ear to ear.

In the Bowl is completely vegetarian, and its menu is vast. To make decisions even harder, most dishes can be ordered with four different meat substitutes and four different kinds of noodles. My dining guest and I started with an appetizer called Melting Culture, an original dish of ground tofu and soy-protein "chicken" in a green-curry sauce. It was served with an interesting squishy bread made from roti rice flour. Crisped on the grill and extremely savory, the bread was my favorite thing about the meal.

The aforementioned "roasted duck" soup was full of good smoky flavor, but was not especially ducklike. Meat substitutes should often be taken on their own merits instead of what they're aspiring to be: The "prawns" in the rad na noodles were weird and strangely crunchy­—eating them again is not a priority. A curry was pleasingly saucy and the vegetables in all the dishes were cooked perfectly tender-crisp. A free dessert accompanies each entrée: a not-too-sweet black-rice and coconut-milk concoction. In the Bowl does its job of satisfying the vegetarian without pandering, but beware of the spice.