John Jay Food: Not That Good
Written by Bwog Staff
Freshwoman food expert Alison Herman attended John Jay’s Chinese New Year Brunch with unspoiled hope for a fine dining experience. Follow along as she goes through an essential Columbia experience: John Jay ethnic dining.
In addition to the hordes of first-years freshly mesmerized by their very first Frontiers lecture of the semester, hundreds of Columbians packed themselves into John Jay this morning in the hopes of finding good eats at the annual Chinese New Year Brunch. The food was decidedly different than normal, but, as with all special dining events, one question lingers on everyone’s minds: is standing in line for half an hour and skipping discussion section really worth it?
The line for the main dishes brought to mind nightmares of Lerner package center in early September. Luckily, eggrolls and potstickers, the essential component of any pseudo-Chinese meal, could be found tanning under the heat lamps at the pizza station. Deep-fried finger food, filled with indeterminate ingredients (overheard: “Does that have meat in it?” “I’ve had three of them and I still can’t tell”), helped time pass exponentially faster.
Once a full plate of food and a table with a clear view of CU Lion Dance was secured, the main course proved something of a mixed bag. So-called “bok choy” translated into carrots and a few tiny green specks steamed into oblivion, while the adzuki beans were at best interestingly mealy and perfectly seasoned to tastelessness, but often induced a what-did-I-just-put-in-my-mouth grimace.
The chicken stir-fry, on the other hand, was genuinely good: the meat was properly cooked (a pleasant surprise at John Jay), the veggies fresh, and the sauce flavorful. The lo mein may have been bland and chewy, but a quick dousing in the leftover eggroll dipping sauce turned the noodles into the kind of sweet, goopy mound of carbs that everyone secretly loves about Chinese food.
For dessert, diners could choose between an array of pastries, most of which seemed neither visibly offensive nor especially appealing, or ice cream. Although it was unclear which flavor was which, the purplish stuff generally agreed upon as red bean was unconventional, yet delicious, while the green tea’s astringent bitterness was downright off-putting.
While ambitious, the Chinese New Year brunch provided a perfect example of the John Jay dining experience: E for effort, Gentleman’s B for execution. Try your luck once again at the Black Heritage Month dinner, by far Dining’s best (and borderline racist) special occasion.