When six members of the Vision staff found ourselves gathered in the office after class Friday — our stomachs all panging with hunger — we decided today might be the day to taste test the new Mein Bowl Asian eatery in the Curb Cafe.
First, we should break down the tasting team.
Our faculty adviser Dorren Robinson has an incredibly eclectic palette and “will not eat anything at a restaurant that she could make at home.” She’s also reportedly eaten such delicacies as congealed pig’s blood, haggis and live sea urchin. Well.
Next we have our Arts & Entertainment Editor Sara Scannell, who claims to eat adventurously, but more often than not can be found scarfing down bowls of various pasta. She’s also been spotted eating parmesan cheese straight off the block.
The other four contributors — Harrison Baldwin, Bronte Lebo, Meg MacDonald and Zach Gilchriest — are all somewhat typical college students. We can be picky on occasion, but if free food is placed in front of us, we’ll likely be able to eat it.
It is also worth noting that Mein Bowl is the latest eatery to neighbor Chick-fil-A — a spot of real estate that we likened to the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts: none of these restaurants seem to last more than a year.
We picked up three dishes: the General Tsao’s Chicken, the Vietnamese Glazed Meatballs and a Make Your Own Bowl with chicken, vegetables and yellow curry.
The General Tsao’s chicken was pretty much just Sodexo-quality Panda Express. It lacked any notable flavors, but we all seemed to agree that it would do in a bind. Like, if Chick-fil-A runs out of chicken sandwiches, General Tsao’s will probably do.
Our average rating was 4.6/10.
The Vietnamese Glazed Meatballs were by far the most flavorful thing we tried. They had a nice spiciness to them that builds as you continue to chew. If that sentence sounded gross — well, it’s probably an accurate summation of what we thought. That being said, the meatballs were definitely the standout dish.
We also ventured outside the listed menu options to create a “Make Your Own Bowl.” Perhaps our combination choices were to blame, but suffice to say, it was a mistake. The bowl we made contained the teriyaki five spice chicken, white rice, broccoli, a cucumber and carrot mix, fried shallots and yellow curry.
Our staff was split on our feelings about the yellow curry sauce. About half of us felt it was the redeeming quality of the dish, while the other half thought it was by far the worst part. The chicken was slimy, chewy and a color and texture that made me wonder what parts of the chicken I was eating. So, essentially what you’ve all come to expect from Sodexo.
After several attempts at eating the broccoli, we decided that it was undercooked as well, making the highlight of the dish the plain white rice.
This bowl’s overall score was a bleak 3.7.
There were a few general comments made about the dishes as well.
Meg decided that the food “tasted fine, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat them.”
Sara claimed to have stomach discomfort suspiciously close to the end of our taste test.
Bronte took up an “I have to spend my declining points on something” kind of attitude. What a champ.
Dorren also felt like all the food could have been much improved with less rice, larger entree portions and a more complex blend of spices.
Harrison simply called it “miserable food.”
At the end of the day, our faculty adviser probably put it best:
“It ain’t no International Market.”
Written by Sara Scannell and Zach Gilchriest. Photo by Zach Gilchriest.