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Campus Bites

Campus Bites

Stuck in the NUS campus for 6 years and counting so I might as well document the food to make better informed decisions for mealtimes.
Melissa Chee
Melissa Chee

Actually came for the claypot chicken rice but apparently it’s only available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays! Ended up getting the Quadruple Treasures Rice which apparently comes with two braised chicken wings, 4 slices of sausage, and 4 slices of smoked duck with an onsen egg. This is served atop a generous helping of brown rice (that’s the default - I don’t think they even have white rice as an option).

Overall, the variety in this bowl is amazing for $5. However, for the amount of rice, I felt there was too little sauce. There were parts of the bowl where the brown rice was completely unflavoured. Despite that, having spoonfuls of the rice with the ingredients was pretty good. The meats were tender and well seasoned overall. Perhaps more vegetables would make for a healthier dish more in line with NUS’s push for healthier food choices, but it’s already value for money as it is.

*Li Ji is FavePay-friendly!

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Surprised to see most of the stalls at the basement of NUH Medical Centre now accept FavePay which was fantastic because I forgot to bring my wallet along to buy lunch today 😣

Been a while since I’ve visited Sunny Korean Cuisine but rainy days call for sweater and porridge weather. This restaurant is always popular with the lunch crowd, and today was no exception, but I got my porridge order very quickly amidst other orders of Saba fish and hotplate meats.

My perennial favourite is the korean beef porridge which is made with brown rice and barley stewed with a generous amount of dried scallops. This makes for such a creamy and rich porridge, there’s no such thing as bland or boring porridge here. The porridge is topped with beef and shredded seaweed. The beef is probably the same as what’s served for the hotplate beef, which is slightly spicy but so good because it’s sliced thin and tender. Sometimes the beef is a little inconsistent as there can be copious amounts of onions thrown in, but today that wasn’t an issue.

At only $5.50 for a hearty and filling bowl, this is one of my favourite porridges around, and one that can go toe to toe with Empress Porridge right around the corner!

First time trying this dish. I was initially impressed that Empress Porridge uses brown rice by default, but I quickly realised that this supposed claypot chicken rice was more like sesame chicken over rice. The rice isn’t stewed in enough sauce, and I doubt it’s actually cooked in a claypot. Maybe the chicken is, but everything else probably isn’t.

I did enjoy the vegetables because they were well seasoned and crisp, but they were a tad too oily. Overall I wouldn’t order this again, as I’d rather go for their signature porridge or the pork trotter bee hoon.

Actually pretty expensive side dish for the portion as well as for the location as a near-campus eatery. Nonetheless, I still order this from time to time because it’s tasty! Not such a fan of the chilli they provide here, so we added our own sambal from the pantry.

Empress Porridge is very generous with the amount of chye poh toppings. It seems like each component is fried separately - the carrot cake, the eggs and the chye poh as they aren’t mixed together but end up in layers. The star of this dish is the fried egg, which is just salty enough, with a little bit of sweetness while retaining its fluffiness. The chye poh does tend to be salty on its own, so it goes very well with the slightly bland carrot cake. Well actually I think I order this primarily for the egg, the chye poh is just a bonus. If they had a pure fried egg omelette dish, that would be heavenly. Till then, I’m still satisfied with the carrot cake although the price point could be lowered for affordability!

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I can always count on Li Ji for a decently strong cup of caffeine while still indulging my love for HK Yuan Yang. The ratio of milk tea to coffee is well balanced, and it’s also not too sweet. Much more affordable than a cup at Starbucks, Jewel Coffee or CBTL, and also arguably more effective.

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From the Korean food stall:

Haven’t ordered bibimbap for a long while, but I’m under the distinct impression that they now provide a lot more meat than they used to (it’s hidden under the egg). The version here comes with white rice, julienned cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts (not the fat Korean kind), bulgogi chicken/beef/pork, gochujang sauce and the regular banchan of anchovies and kimchi.

It’s a simple but healthy and satisfying lunch option. There was a little too much rice to ingredient and sauce ratio for me, plus I would’ve liked more heat in the sauce, but I can’t fault this for convenient and affordable campus food. Also, even though I took out some white rice, I was still super full! It is a little hard to mix everything together with the sauce in the rectangular takeaway container, but I would definitely order this again especially since the Korean stall queue is consistently one of the fastest-moving during lunch time.

Note that this Mini Wok stall is no longer operating at NUS PGP Residences but have shifted to SP about 3 years ago - I’m not sure what the exact address is. I used to frequent this place when I was staying in KE Hall. Cereal Chicken and Salted Egg Chicken with fried egg were our staples, especially when hall dinner was dismal. A colleague was around SP today and offered to buy this back for us, so I jumped at the offer. Having this cereal chicken with rice really takes me back. I only ate it about 3 hours later so it was cold, and it’s definitely not the best cereal chicken ever, but the nostalgia of eating this dish is real. Despite being cold, the chicken was still crispy, and the cereal was mostly crunchy too (with the exception of some pieces on top that became soggy due to condensation). The cereal chicken is as fragrant as ever due to the curry leaves and chilli padi, and one thing I like in particular about this stall is that they fry the cereal with egg so you can see bits of egg yolks clinging to the cereal. Yums.

This portion was with extra chicken, which only cost an additional $1, but it’s so worth it! Just look at that mountain of cereal chicken with rice for $4.80.

From what my colleague said, the same two friendly guys run the stall at SP! I would definitely try to make a trip down personally and get the salted egg chicken with egg!

First time venturing to Science Park for their food and I’m so in love with this place my friend recommended. To make a bowl, you choose one protein, one base and three toppings. Each protein is priced differently, with tofu that costs $12 to sirloin that costs $15.

What’s in my bowl:
Protein - honey lemon chicken ($14)
Base - salad
Toppings - crispy tofu puffs, Thai cucumber salad (spicy), eggplant

There’s just so much selection here that I had a hard time deciding! This place has the widest range of bases I’ve ever encountered - as they have quinoa, rice, salad, dry noodles with various seasonings and noodle soup. The salad is a mix of crisp lettuce, spinach and other assorted greens, dressed in Japanese sesame dressing. The greens were super fresh and crunchy. Love! Perfect for a lighter meal option without suffering through tasteless and mundane salad greens.

The honey lemon chicken was so tender and juicy. The seasoning wasn’t overpowering, so it wasn’t too sweet or too sour. While I found the chicken delicious, I wouldn’t be able to tell it was honey lemon seasoning! Not that I’m complaining though.

I was torn with what toppings to choose! I really wanted the lava egg, but they had so many interesting choices that I ended up going with less common items. The eggplants were seasoned and cooked to perfection as they weren’t overly mushy. The cucumbers were dressed in a thai spicy sauce that I really enjoyed, super refreshing, but might be too spicy for someone unaccustomed to eating chilli. The crispy tofu puffs were quite disappointing as they were super crisp and dry. I was hoping for some tau kwa puff in laksa consistency, but this was purely dry and crunchy. It’s seasoned with some spices so it’s not tasteless, and it’s also not oily, but I wouldn’t order this again.

Prices of the bowl were pretty steep, but the portion sizes were reasonable and for the quality of food, I wouldn’t mind paying for such yummy bowls around Kent Ridge once in a while.

*Savourworld is GrabPay and FavePay-friendly!

Another one for one promotion from 3-5pm this week at Jewel Coffee. Unfortunately they were out of skim milk, so I topped up $1 for soy. I went with the Brazil roast, and felt that this was actually the best drink I’ve had at Jewel so far.

With the Brazil roast, my cappuccino had a chocolatey flavour with a nutty finish. Hmm. Bit expensive for 8oz, but not too bad if you have a coffee kaki during the 1-for-1 promo.

Li Ji has been our cheaper coffee alternative to CBTL & Starbucks on days that we really need some stronger coffee and Nescafé just isn’t cutting it. I always go for the Yuan Yang here, which is a nice balance of milky Hong Kong tea and coffee. It’s not too bitter nor sweet in my opinion at the regular sugar level, but you can always request for less or even no sugar if you prefer.

Disclaimer: this zhang isn’t made by the vegetarian stall, they purchased it from a supplier for dumpling festival and is just a seasonal item. Despite that, the pretty blue butterfly pea-coloured glutinous rice deserves a mention. The contrast of white and blue is really pretty, and the taste of the zhang is good too! The filling is fibrous and has a legitimate meat-like texture, which is enough to fool you into thinking that this is real meat and not a vegetarian zhang. It’s well-seasoned, and you can actually enjoy the rice or the fillings on their own, or together. Overall a surprise quality find in NUS Science Canteen, wish we’d known earlier so I could’ve bought some home as well.

New outlet alert for Mr Bean in a snazzy new building opposite the NUH Main Building. For their opening promo, they’re offering a rice bowl or soy burger with a drink (soy bean or grass jelly) for only $5.50. I opted for the teriyaki chicken rice bowl (U.P. $6) and a cold soy bean drink with less sugar (U.P. $1.60).

It was quite a simple bowl, with white rice, a few strips of teriyaki chicken, corn, cherry tomatoes, edamame, an egg, and seaweed on top, but quite delicious after stirring all together. The teriyaki sauce is just sweet and savoury enough, and they aren’t stingy with it so you can actually mix all the rice with sauce. I wish there were more greens in the bowl but it wasn’t a deal breaker. For the health conscious, Mr Bean also provides calorie counts for their menu offerings. However, if they really want to roll with the ‘healthier choice’ options, offering brown rice instead of regular white rice should be the next step forward.

Overall, for $5.50, this set is affordable and value for money. However, I wouldn’t pay for the rice bowl at its regular price of $6 as it’s just too basic. I’d rather top up a few dollars and head up to A Poke Theory if I was really craving a grain bowl.

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