[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Some of us are sad to see the departure of SONO, the Spanish food station from the main campus dining hall. SONO has now relocated to the Bobcat Den and a new station called Bowl Life has taken its place. It’s nothing to despair, though; the new station is a big improvement. It’s helping to create a healthier and more fun dining experience at Quinnipiac.
When you arrive at Bowl Life, which is in between Breakfast All-Day and G8, you’ll see a wide variety of ingredients behind the glass; brown rice, black beans, chicken, sweet-and-sour shrimp, potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, tofu, quinoa, chickpeas — these are just some of the foods you can add to your bowl. Most of them are tasty, but there is one I wouldn’t recommend: the chicken. It’s very dry, so I wouldn’t ask for it unless you add a sauce to balance it out. The portions of chicken are also large and unsliced, making them hard to eat without a fork and knife and incompatible with the other small ingredients that can easily be mixed together.
Out of all the ingredients, the ones I’d recommend the most are the rice, potatoes, butternut squash, chickpeas and self-serve crispy Chinese noodles at the end of the counter. One of the bowls that I ordered was made with exactly those ingredients. At first, I was concerned that the butternut squash would be too sweet for the more savory ingredients, but it ended up being the best part of the bowl. The chickpeas are also great. Prior to this, I didn’t like chickpeas; I found them too dry. But the ones at Bowl Life have a much more palatable consistency than the others I’ve tried. The crispy Chinese noodles are also a must-have in any bowl. The crunch and flavor they add not only improves the taste and consistency, but also the presentation of the dish overall.
In addition to the fixings, there are sauces you can add to your bowl, like chipotle, Italian dressing and teriyaki sauce. I’ve found that some of the sauces don’t mix well with the ingredients available. It may have been my fault when I got experimental and added Italian dressing to a bowl of rice, beans and chicken, but there didn’t seem to be any combination of ingredients that would have been complimented by Italian dressing. The sauce I would recommend is the teriyaki sauce. If your bowl has ingredients that are healthy but on the bland side, adding teriyaki sauce is a way to make it delicious, albeit slightly less healthy.
Unfortunately, I only got the chance to try the teriyaki sauce once, as the chefs quickly ran out of it.
The overall ingredient quality is similar to that which you would find in other dining hall stations. The tofu and chickpeas are similar to those of the salad bar and the potatoes seem to be the same as those from the breakfast station. The ingredients aren’t restaurant quality, but for many of them, it’s hard to tell the difference.
Initially, the servings were presented in colored, plastic bowls which looked very nice. However, they soon switched to paper bowls. It isn’t a huge deal but having a meal that looked like it came from a restaurant was a nice change of pace to the cafeteria-vibe that most of us experience whenever we go to eat. It would be nice if they switched back to the plastic bowls, but I’d understand their decision to stay with paper if it creates more work for the staff.
It’s hard to say whether or not it was right for Chartwells to replace SONO with Bowl Life. On one hand, there are more ingredients to choose from and combine. You can experiment with different foods, creating new flavors-being totally in control of the final product. Beyond just tasting good, it’s also fun to try new foods. It’s an opportunity to get some variety in your day. Some people like to get the exact same lunch and dinner every day and others like to mix things up as much as possible. I’m in the second category, so I appreciate the fact that there’s another way for me to do that now.
However, is the food as good as the food from SONO? In my opinion, no. SONO’s burritos, burrito bowls and quesadillas are some of my favorite dishes at Quinnipiac. Though I enjoy the interesting mixtures that you can get at Bowl Life, they simply don’t taste as good as the food from SONO. But I’m still happy to see Bowl Life in its place. It’s much healthier, and I’m happy to be able to eat something that tastes good while staying fit. It used to be more difficult to find a variety of healthy meals at Quinnipiac. Now, with a hodgepodge of healthy foods to mix together, I’m discovering dishes I never knew I liked. Plus, if I really feel like I need a burrito, the new SONO is just around the corner.