"Nine apples are in the bowl" is fine for this sentence - it should be accepted.
In the tips and notes for this section, it says that "van" is used for "there is" unless you are talking about where something is. I translated this as "nine apples are in the bowl," which was rejected. But isn't this talking about where the apples are?
It is not talking about "the" apples. It is talking about the bowl and what is in the bowl. So, in the bowl, there are nine apples. And if it were talking about where the apples are, it would be "The nine apples are in the bowl." - "A kilenc alma a tálban van."
Is this just an absurd sentence or can tál also refer to large bowls used collectively as a container from which food is distributed or taken by each individual?
Something like this
Or does it only mean individual bowls used for example to eat cereals or soup?
Tál includes large serving bowls and even some things I would call "platter" in English.
A number/quantity before a noun always means the articles "az/egy" are omitted? Same for question for when nouns take a plural form, eg: Sok lányok