By Mitchel Chan
An ever-present issue facing both UEA students and staff alike is deciding where to have lunch on campus. Whilst there may be some who are dedicated enough to bring food from home, the rest of us weak-willed souls must face tough decisions on where to fill our stomachs.
For those that do not know, INTO is a subsection of UEA that allows students to do their A-levels or foundation-level courses here on campus. It also contains a restaurant that serves hot food throughout the day, and everyone is welcome to eat there.
The INTO building is to the left of the UEA Medical Centre and the restaurant itself is located on the first floor of this impressively modern building. Upon first glance, the INTO restaurant evokes memories of a school canteen, with its heavy emphasis on self-service. However, rest assured that the food served here is much better than the dry fish fingers and soggy chips of days gone past.
There is a wide variety of food and drinks available, from cold sandwiches to a well-stocked salad bar. Without a doubt the main stars of the show, however are the lunch and dinner dishes that draw in large crowds. You are guaranteed to never be bored of the food, as the chefs rotate their menu every day. Each “menu of the day” follows the same format, with four main dishes consisting of three meat dishes and a vegetarian option. This is accompanied by the choice of four sides, which are rice, noodles, potatoes and vegetables. The cooking methods of these differ by the day, so you may be getting herb rice and roast potatoes on one day, to jungle friend rice and Lyonnaise potatoes on the next.
One of the menus seen at INTO, with allergy advice.
Perhaps one of the main draws of having lunch or dinner at INTO is its attractive pricing. One main and two sides will set you back £4. If you fancy some juice and some dessert with your meal, you can add them to your meal for an additional £1. Furthermore, the restaurant provides Sriracha sauce and soy sauce. For those of you who haven’t tried these before, you should do so immediately. The Sriracha sauce, in particular is very popular with many customers, as it adds a tangy yet spicy kick to any meal.
On the day that I was there, I had the option to choose between Chicken with Mushroom and Tarragon Sauce, Steak and Kidney Pie, Roasted Pork Loin and Wok Fried Vegetables for my main course. I chose the first option, and had two portions of steamed rice as my side. The chicken was quite tender, and I was quite satisfied with the flavour of the sauce. It was rich and creamy, with the mushrooms adding a nice bite. There is not much to say about the rice, except that it was fluffy and filling.
As I was having lunch with my friend, I found his meal to be quite attractive, and as such asked if I could use it for the purpose of my article. He chose the same chicken as me, with the potatoes and rice. He also tried the broccoli and blue cheese soup, and took some extra broccoli from the salad bar. He found the soup to be quite “tasty”, and felt that the chicken was “delicious.”
The overall experience of having a meal at INTO is very pleasant. The vibe is very relaxed, and one can even watch live news broadcast on the multiple TVs available. The seating area is plentiful, and there is never a problem finding a table even during peak mealtimes.
Following our meal, we placed our trays on a trolley, before bidding farewell to this homely restaurant. I will definitely return to this place, and I hope that you too will try the delicious food at INTO.
Image: INTO Centre