Students question authenticity of diverse dining hall food

By Koumae Adams, Staff Writer

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign states that University Housing offers a wide variety of dining services to meet your needs” in regard to the dining options for undergraduate students under the subtitle, “Delicious Dining Options.”

Some students have questioned the authenticity of the food from other cultures served by the dining halls. Qingzi Yang, freshman in LAS, claimed that there is room for improvement in the Asian food that the dining halls serve. 

“I think (Asian dining hall food is) OK for most of the time, but could be better,” Yang said. 

Yang expressed that although she is delighted that the dining halls take diversity into consideration, she has mixed feelings about the food. 

“They always end up not tasting that good since the way they make them is not right,” Yang said. 

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Emma Hahn, freshman in LAS, said she liked the attempt at diversity.

“I think it’s cool that they offer a diverse food selection,” Hahn said. 

Hahn also expressed how the quality of food is a gamble in the dining halls, even if the options are diverse.

“The dining hall food is alright, it seems like a hit or miss,” Hahn said. 

Hahn said she had mixed opinions about how authentically the dining halls are representing food from other cultures. 

“They have the intent of representing the foreign food authentically, but at the end of the day, this food is delivered to the dining center and made to serve large quantities of people,” Hahn said. 

Despite wishing for better, homemade quality food, Hahn said she understands the reality of the situation. 

“The quality is only going to be so high given the cost the University wants to pay for the food,” Hahn said. 

Processed materials in the food also make the food far from being homemade, Hahn explained. 

“The food probably has a lot of processed stuff in it so that it lasts longer in transport, so the chances of it being as good as the authentic, homemade versions are low,” Hahn said. 

George Sornson, freshman in Engineering, voiced dissatisfaction with the dining hall food options. 

“Compared to the food at home, the dining hall food is a little disappointing, but not something I didn’t expect,” Sornson said. 

Sornson said he feels homesick for the homemade meals that are served back at his home.

“I often find myself missing my mom’s home cooked meals,” Sornson said. 

Sornson expressed how hopeful he felt early in the semester knowing that there were diverse dining options in the dining halls.

“Early in the semester I ate a lot of Fusion 48 section hoping it would resemble the pan-Asian diet I’m used to eating at home,” Sornson said. 

Although Sornson said he prefers pan-Asian style meals, he claimed that he has made a slight switch with his meals after dining on campus. 

“As the semester went on, I switched to eating at PAR and sometimes the Ike because the Fusion 48 section was lackluster and even though I prefer a pan-Asian diet, the simple pasta from the Ike was more appetizing,” Sornson said. 

Despite the dining halls’ attempts to be diverse and authentic, Sornson said that the food is still of low quality. 

“While I never expected the dishes to be stellar, I thought at least the rice would be decent, but I almost always skip serving myself one because it is subpar,” Sornson expressed. 

Sornson recalled one example of subpar food.

“I also recall a time there was an advertised ramen bar featuring udon at the Ike, turns out the udon was spaghetti noodles which are not very enjoyable in a ramen dish,” Sornson said. 

Sornson also had a similar experience at the ISR dining hall. 

“Another time ISR was serving tteokbokki which is a Korean side dish that’s meant to be chewy,” Sornson said. “Upon eating it I realized it was incredibly soft to the point where I could cut it with minimal effort using a chopstick.”

Despite the lack of positive experiences, Sornson claimed that he enjoys one particular dish. 

“The one dining hall meal that never disappoints however is the PAR Sky Garden stir fry, I look forward to it almost everyday for lunch,” Sornson said. 


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