The first thing that catches your eye upon walking into the concrete and wood dining hall at Simon Fraser University is the banner, hung among others painted by students, that reads “Welcome to Paradise.” The artist must be majoring in sarcasm.
The dining hall is the closest cafeteria option for the 2,000 students living in SFU’s residences, and so it’s often the convenient, if not preferred, first choice for chow. The posted menu near the entrance seems to bear little resemblance to what’s actually on offer. No vegan pan-fried pot stickers, as promised—the guy behind the counter just shrugs when asked. So the only option is to muscle through the throng in the cramped serving area, where packed-in students uncomfortably bump trays while lining up, and see what else is available. It’s recommended to stroll, no, run, past the pizza, where a woman is chasing a slice of Hawaiian across a greasy heating tray. It was hard at the edges, with congealed pools of grease between the pineapple chunks.
The entree this evening was teriyaki chicken, served lukewarm, with a dollop of overly garlicy mash and steamed vegetables, which were admittedly decent. Alas, the chicken leg was left half uneaten after the discovery of a firm, but fatty substance.(Brain tissue? A tumour?). We ordered a baked potato that was several minutes shy of done. A zingy salsa helped us muddle through. Meanwhile, the alleged winter garden and beef soup would have made for a great French onion soup were it covered in cheese—it was salty enough, and there was no beef to speak of. We tried to wash it all down with a sparkling raspberry drink that claimed to be 100 per cent juice—tasty, if you like pure tonic water sprinkled with sugar and food colouring.
This being the West Coast, an order of the pre-packaged California roll sushi was in order. The expiry date, three days hence, should have been warning enough. Instead of the usual avocado, sweaty cucumber was used. There were no discernible grains of rice among the mush. Thoroughly unappetizing.
One highlight was the Black Forest ham wrap. The vegetables were fresh, and the Swiss cheese was a nice touch.
Across the board, food in the dining hall was too expensive for the quality on offer. The chicken dish was $8.54; a banana sells for 75 cents.
Overall, a disappointing experience.