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Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

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The best and worst things I ate this week: Udon is the star

Yaki Udon at Masa Sushi Hibachi Steak House in Galesburg, IL (Areesha Saif)

Throughout my three years in Galesburg, I have been to Masa three times, and never really understood the hype of the restaurant amongst students; until I went this Saturday and tried their Yaki Udon.

Udon is a thick Japanese noodle that blew my mind away. From the richness of the pan-fried noodle to the blend of sweet and sour with a tinge of spice, I finally found not only the best thing I ate this week, but the best thing I have eaten in Galesburg at all.

The dish cost about $11, and came with your choice of meat, such as chicken or shrimp. It was rich with vegetables such as thinly sliced lettuce, broccoli, and carrots. I am personally not the biggest fan of broccoli, but I was able to easily pick them out. The unison of the fresh and rich elements of the dish truly made the experience memorable.

I was inspired by the remarkable taste of the food and decided to talk to the Manager and Chef, Lee. She said that the restaurant opened in Galesburg eight years ago and established its presence within the Galesburg community. However, she said that now most people usually order through DoorDash instead of coming in. She also shared that the restaurant bought the Udon recipe from a private distributor.

The overall feel of the dish is warm and comforting: the noodles melt in your mouth, the sauce brings a kick of flavor and the vegetables add freshness. The best part about Masa is that it is also a seven minute walk from campus, and the reasonable price makes it a great place for Knox students.

Deviating from the subject of comfort food, the worst thing I ate this week was raw chicken or at least I thought it was raw. It was indeed at our favorite place, the Hard Knox Cafe.

The Caf has improved exponentially this term, especially during Ramadan, when the meals were culturally authentic, well spiced and balanced.

A piece of chicken breast from the Hard Knox Cafe (Areesha Saif)

I am only talking about one meal on one day this week where it was bad… and it was quite bad. Chicken is a largely tasteless protein and if you were to eat a grilled chicken by itself, it feels like eating leather. Sometimes my friends and I pick up the grilled chicken breast from the Caf and cook it in spices for hours before we can eat it.

One of the days, I found a chicken breast at the Caf, which was pink on the inside, and tasted like eating rubber, no matter how many chili flakes or ranch I poured over it. I don’t remember what it was called because it had a fancy name, but it was a chicken breast with salt, pepper and garlic. Clearly Masa and the Caf are not comparable, because the Caf has to mass produce food for hundreds of students.

My advice at the end of this week would be to steer clear of the raw chicken breasts, and if you want to treat yourself, check out the Yaki Udon at Masa.

“It’s fabulous and I come here every weekend,”  sophomore Sikandar Mateen said, as he ordered a plate of Sushi at Masa, which I might not be able to review because my picky taste buds don’t allow me to have it, and my experiences with seafood in Galesburg haven’t been the best.

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Areesha Saif
Areesha Saif, Staff Writer
Areesha Saif '24 (she/her) is a Political Science major at Knox. She has been working as a Staff Writer since Winter 2023. She grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, which in her very biased opinion, has the best food in the world. Awards: Honorable Mention Critical Review ICPA 2024

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