Food wars

The Makansutra Guru once said NTU is one of the foodiest universities in the world, and with new options for the palate growing by the day, an NTU panel tells Siddiqua Ovais which ones step up to the plate

Best low-calorie lunch

With the fitness bug biting health enthusiasts these days, salads and soups are not just considered starters but also full meals. That a salad should win this category is a no-brainer, but what if we told you another salad hit the high note at 462 calories for a single serving? For our panellists, they seemed to put the weight of calories squarely on the SG chicken and mushroom ragout from The Soup Spoon, and were in for a surprise. The ragout actually lags far behind at a modest 286 calories. “It’s great in flavour and thick in texture,” says Asst Prof Sylvie Castagne. With a stew-like consistency, it’s no wonder that this soup was thought to be a calorie-buster.

Roast chicken salad – Subway (140 cal)
SG chicken and mushroom ragout – The Soup Spoon (286 cal)
Fried fish soup – Canteen B (349 cal)
Caesar salad – The Soup Spoon (462 cal)
Power lunch under $5

What can you possibly get for under $5 that satisfies your tastebuds and hunger pangs? Well, pretty much everything from chicken and economical rice to Indian and Western staples. While the Indian signature dish biryani leaves one feeling full and wins this category, it loses out to the unassuming chicken rice in flavour. Done right, this local favourite seems to have a faithful following amongst Singaporeans and foreigners alike.

Exchange student Jane Towery likes the chicken rice from the canteen at Pioneer Hall. “It seems very authentic when I see the whole chicken hanging like that at the stall,” she laughs. Asst Prof Castagne agrees. “For me, it’s all about flavour.”

But NTU undergrad Fiona Seah has a soft spot for the economical rice, which has a generous portion of fish and two sides. “I love how the fish is so tender and the blend of sweetness from the fresh fish and saltiness from the sauce is just perfect!” And all at a bargain of $4.

Biryani – Canteen B
Economical rice – Canteen 2
Chicken rice – Pioneer Food Court
Pomodoro pasta – Hall 4
Hottest find

It’s all in the sauce, say the panellists of the very spicy Indonesian favourite, ayam penyet. Just a spoonful had most reaching for a cold drink. Whether you go for fried or grilled, chicken or fish, it’s a taste explosion that will leave you in tears – of joy we hope. “Are all these from eateries at NTU?” asks Fiona. It seems both she and NTU alumnus Sam Chin are pleasantly surprised. While the Thai green curry and the chicken curry are tied in their fan base, the Korean bibimbap gets votes for its colourful presentation and appetising mix of meat and greens. “Bibimbap is what features most on my lunch menu in school,” says Jane. She’s been in Singapore since January and local curries also figure high on her must-try list.

Ayam penyet – Canteen 2
Thai green curry – Pioneer Food Court
Chicken curry – Koufu @ the South Spine
Korean spicy bibimbap – Paik’s Bibim
Chocoholic’s choice

Eating chocolate cake could actually help you lose weight – that’s not just every chocolate lover’s dream, but news that has been making the rounds on social media. While we leave the nutritionists to battle out the pros and cons, the chocolate peanut butter stack from Starbucks wins hands down in this category. It’s not your regular definition of a dark, chocolate cake but a decadent mix of nuts, butter and chocolate, which was enough to send at least two of our panellists to a happy place. Both Sam and Fiona claim a definite bias. “I’m trying to be neutral,” says Sam, “but it’s hard, because it’s really my favourite.”

Chocolate peanut butter stack – Starbucks Coffee
Chocolate fudge cake – KFC
Chocolate lava cake – The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Chocolate donuts – Dunkin’ Donuts
The panel

A dream assignment for these food lovers, NTU’s Asst Prof Sylvie Castagne, alumnus Sam Chin, communication student Fiona Seah and US exchange student Jane Towery went around NTU to rate these campus eats. They’ve chosen their winners and it’s time you picked whose side you are on.