I never expected great food when I decided to come to Brandeis. In fact, I was quite aware of the average quality of the campus food in America, being badly burned before in high school. But I still thought to myself: “Hey, that tuition must have gone somewhere. It can’t be that bad, right?” So, I made the unfortunate mistake of getting my hopes up for the rice and noodles on campus. And how could I not, as an Asian? If I can’t even rely on having decent rice and noodles to sustain myself, what else is there to live for?
Sadly, disappointment hit once again like a slap to the face as I sat down in Sherman Dining Hall for the first time: I realized that the most integral parts of my diet were defiled and distorted into something I can barely stomach. And now, I shall give you my full thoughts on these dreadful foods, which have been the catalysts of my declining health. Hear me (and the cries of my starving belly).
It’s truly amazing that there is a way to somehow screw up plain white rice. It’s literally as simple as making instant ramen: putting some water into it and just letting it cook. But Sodexo messes it up all the same. It tastes like wax, like plastic. They clearly did not put enough water into it, for it’s extremely dry. As a result, it’s unusually rigid and hard to swallow. I’d rather choke than eat this crap. It is also very overcooked and has no flavor whatsoever, as opposed to normal rice, where you can taste, albeit just a tiny bit, the sweet, fresh carbs contained inside.
The presentation of it is also highly concerning. If you’ve seen properly cooked white rice, you’ll notice that its color is of marble, glowing white, and boy do you want to devour it whole. Whereas sometimes the rice on campus looks like a bunch of dead maggots: dirty white tainted by a yucky yellow mixed with this poopy brown. That’s how I remembered it anyway, as I have vowed to never have it again. I don’t know what kind of seasoning that was, but it’s definitely not helping.
We do get rice that looks good and delicious, but that only adds to my disappointment, with a tinge of betrayal that’s due to my repeated and misplaced trust, as it still tastes like dog crap. And the only way I’ll put that rice in my mouth is with beef stew, which is my reluctant savior that appears all too seldom.
My conspiracy theory to explain all this is that Brandeis made a deal with the town of Waltham to only provide terrible rice to the students, so they would order food more frequently, which would bolster the local economy. What a fiendish master plan.
Now I half expected the rice to be terrible, as I have experienced similar atrocities before. I merely didn’t want to entertain the thought, which would leave me broken as it does now. However, the noodles were really a sleeper hit. It was during lunch when I discovered people lining up right beside the card swipe: they were eager to have these noodles with this soup that looked promising. The person serving it also happened to be Asian, a fact which I falsely equated with “here’s good food.”
So imagine the grimace on my face when I finally had some. Oh, how it writhed and wriggled! First of all, the noodles were severely undercooked, like the chefs were expecting the soup to just magically cook the noodles by itself. They were rigid (a recurring theme) and I had to exert extra effort in slurping and biting one off, almost as if I’m tearing away at some rubber band, which is clearly a sign of how bad it was, considering that udon noodles shouldn’t feel like that. Eating them should’ve been a smooth entry and a soft bite.
At this point, I thought maybe the soup can be the saving grace, yet wrong I was again! Without exaggerations, this was the saltiest soup that I ever had the privilege of tasting. And it’s absolutely disgusting. I’m normally a pretty hardcore guy when it comes to the saltiness of my food. Like I always use up the entire pack of sauce when I’m having my instant ramen, but the soup was too much even for me. It reminded me of my bitter childhood when I was curious and stupid enough to try and drink from a bottle of soy sauce. Maybe the soup was soy sauce.
Later I heard from a friend that there actually exist good noodles on the kosher section. I don’t doubt it. Kosher foods are pretty good, though my knowledge is limited as I’ve only ever tried the meat.
The most I can say for the Asian cuisine at Brandeis is at least the sushi is decent. I do wish that we got seafood inside the sushi, but it’s decent right now. The rest are terrible and will most likely remain terrible. Some people probably love them. Good for them. But every time I see these things, I think about how much better they could have been, which makes me loathe them even more. As a result, I’m already contributing way too much to the local economy by ordering food almost once a day. At this rate, my wallet will soon be starving on the streets and I’ll be able to write a review for every dish for every restaurant in Waltham. Look forward to it.