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08-13-21-quaker-kitchen-dining-hall-nchw-new-college-house-west-dorm-food-kylie-cooper
Quaker Kitchen in New College House West serves a restaurant-style dinner four to five nights each week. Credit: Kylie Cooper

After Penn opened several new dining locations this semester, students have voiced mixed opinions on the new dining options.

Penn transformed McClelland Express into McClelland Sushi and Market, and opened La Plancha, a Mexican restaurant, in Houston Market. Cafe West, a coffee bar, and Quaker Kitchen also opened in New College House West.

McClelland Sushi and Market was a pleasant surprise for College freshman Myka Salvacion, who visited the eatery for lunch and dinner. Salvacion ordered salmon sushi and noodles.

“I was actually really surprised as to how good it was because I was very wary of eating campus sushi, like raw fish,” Salvacion said. 

Compared to the other dining hall options, Salvacion thought her meal at McClelland Sushi and Market was the best use of a meal swipe. As a Quad resident, the location was very convenient for her, and she said that the dining hall staff explained to her how to use a meal swipe. 

She also found that the sushi’s quality was comparable to Bento, one of the retail dining locations in Houston Market. 

“It actually exceeded my expectations for what I could even get on campus. I liked it so much I came back for dinner,” Salvacion said.

McClelland Sushi and Market is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Students can get a sushi roll or sushi bowl and a beverage or a fresh salad with a side and a frozen item for one meal swipe.

College sophomore Crystal Marshall visited Houston Hall's New Mexican eatery La Plancha because she wanted to try something new. Marshall said she was disappointed with her meal that she exchanged for one meal swipe. Marshall opted for the black bean burrito option because it was one of the vegan options. 

“Little did I know, it was very literally just rice and black beans, and nothing else,” she said. 

Marshall added that the burrito was “nicely toasted” but was disappointed that La Plancha’s vegan and vegetarian option didn’t have more protein sources besides beans. 

“I do wish they had more options, particularly for vegetarian and vegan students,” she said. 

Marshall added that there was “not much going on, flavor-wise” in her meal, and said she preferred the other Houston Hall locations like Bento and HM Grill over La Plancha. 

For her next meal, Marshall plans to use her dining dollars at La Plancha to make her meal more customizable, as the meal swipe option at Houston Market limits what food students can choose. 

For example, students can only exchange a burrito, fruit, and 20 oz drink for a meal swipe, but they can choose from snacks, street tacos, burritos, and bowls with dining dollars, according to the Penn Mobile Dining app.

“If I still don’t like it after [using dining dollars], I probably won’t go back," Marshall said. "I see the effort, and I see what they were going for, but it was a little ‘eh’ for me.”

Wharton sophomore Kate Chan ate at Quaker Kitchen after hearing about it as a resident of New College House West. Quaker Kitchen serves a restaurant-style dinner four to five nights each week. It has 75 seats available for reservation, serving up to 150 students per night.

Chan chose the spicy grilled fish and rice with tortilla bread and cake for dessert. Chan thought that the quality of the food was good, but felt that the tortilla was slightly dry. 

She was also impressed by the community aspect of Quaker Kitchen. The chef welcomed her to the dining hall before presenting and describing the food, including vegan, seafood, meat, salad, and dessert options. 

The dining hall staff told Chan that Quaker Kitchen was a place that emphasized home and community, so Chan scraped off her dinner plate herself and put it in the dishwasher, unlike the other dining halls, which use a dish drop system. Chan said her friends also felt similarly and enjoyed their dining experiences. 

“[The dining hall staff] were really friendly, and they communicated well,” Chan said.

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