By Shabana Begum
POPULAR eatery The Quad Cafe has permanently closed its doors on campus, with a new food and beverage (F&B) outlet set to open in its place next semester.
The Quad Cafe closed on 6 Jan after its lease ended, which was not renewed for undisclosed reasons, said Mr Jimmy Lee, the University’s Chief Housing and Auxiliary Services Officer.
The Quad Cafe, which was located outside the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), was the only canteen in the University to be fully halal-certified.
It closed temporarily in early September last year after its halal certification was suspended, before reopening in the same month sans the certification.
The new F&B outlet will be selected by a committee comprising NTU students, faculty and staff, and the University aims to have an F&B operator that can offer halal options, Mr Lee added.
In the meantime, vending machines dispensing food and drinks will be installed outside the Quad Cafe in the coming weeks. The vending machines will sell halal-certified Asian and Western meals, with prices starting at $4.
Once the new food outlet opens, the machines will be shifted to other parts of the campus.
Muslim students interviewed by the Nanyang Chronicle welcomed the move.
First-year SBS student Asheka Nasordin, 19, said: “We don’t have a lot of (halal) options to choose from and having something new to try will definitely be a reason to patronise the vending machines.
“I can finally fulfil my Western food cravings without having to walk to the NIE canteen, which also closes early.”
First-year School of Humanities and Social Sciences student Nadhira Putri, 19, said she was curious to try the meals offered by the new vending machines.
“In light of what has happened with The Quad Cafe, it is great and also sensible that they deployed the machines.”
“Not only does it benefit us Muslims by compensating for the fewer halal options that the Quad’s closing has resulted in, it also provides a convenient option for all students who have lessons near that area, and would on normal days rely on the Quad as a convenient place to grab their lunch,” she added.
Despite the prospect of having ready-made hot meals at their doorstep, some SBS students said they were sceptical about purchasing their meals from the temporary vending machines.
Third-year SBS student Tan Yuan Ming said he would not buy meals from the vending machines as they are costly.
“I would rather walk to Koufu at South Spine to have my meals. Installing vending machines is not the best alternative and I hope the University will speed up the establishment of the new outlet,” the 23-year-old added.
Charlotte Boo, another third-year student from SBS, said vending machines usually do not offer nutritious options.
“Vending machines may provide too much gravy and too little vegetables. Meat would most likely be processed as well,” said the 22-year-old.
But others such as Adeline Tan, 22, were open to the convenience of a quick, instant meal on campus.
“I will patronise the vending machines when I have short lunch breaks to avoid the crowd at other food outlets,” said the third-year SBS student.
Many students whom the Chronicle spoke to lamented the loss of The Quad Cafe, which had previously established itself as a popular halal dining establishment and well-frequented lunchtime spot in the University.
For Hakim Rosli, 22, a second-year SBS student, The Quad Cafe holds fond memories for him.
It was at the canteen’s Korean stall that he had his first taste of Korean food.
“The Korean stall was a recent haunt for me. After hearing about the entire canteen’s closure, I was appalled. I’ll definitely miss the spicy chicken with rice,” he said.
Tosy Tan, 20, a second-year School of Computer Science and Engineering student, said she would have her lunches twice a week at The Quad Cafe after her morning lessons.
“I will miss the Yong Tau Foo stall. The fried Yong Tau Foo was really good and can’t be found anywhere else in NTU,” she added.
For second-year Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information student Vivian Yuan, it was not just the food from The Quad Cafe that left an impression on her.
The 23-year-old said she would always remember the stallholder of the claypot dish stall for her jovial and generous demeanour.
“The claypot auntie enthusiastically introduced her new dishes to students every other week,” Yuan said. “She would offer me samples of her new soup before I decided to have the dish.”