SFU Dining Commons: New look, same culinary experience

The $26 million expansion is complete. But how’s the food?

Photo of buffet-style dining hall with wooden accents
PHOTO: Roshi Chadha / The Peak

By: C Icart, Staff Writer

The Dining Commons is finally open! It boasts 28,000 square ft, 500 seats, and took $26 million to construct. But does it live up to the hype? Not really. I had already moved out of my room on Burnaby Mountain. But since SFU opened what looked like a state-of-the-art dining hall right after I left, I hopped on the R5 to see if it would become my new after-class lunch spot. 

As I entered the area, I was impressed with how spacious it was and the gorgeous light fixtures. There was a lot of dramatic statement lighting. The choices were bold and combined with the floor-to-ceiling windows, they made the space very bright and inviting. I paid $14.49, the lunch door rate. It is cheaper if you get a value pack or a meal plan, which I would recommend if you plan on eating there regularly. I ran into my friend, which was great because two mouths are better than one, considering there are over ten culinary stations to choose from. 

I picked up something from The Hot Plate. It’s a station where you can watch your meal grilled Teppanyaki-style and “choose your protein, veggies, and sauce.” It is a similar concept to Bok Choy inside the Mackenzie Café. I chose rice as a base, tofu, and all the vegetables except carrots. I wouldn’t recommend this option if you are in a hurry as it is made fresh to order, and it took me about 20 minutes to receive my bowl. 

My friend opted to make herself a plate with some of the ready-made options at the global cuisine station and a station advertising Asian fusion. Overall, the food was just okay. The rice in my bowl was slightly undercooked, and the seasonings in both dishes weren’t fantastic. The rice in her dish was a bit too salty and the teriyaki sauce was a little sweet for my taste. I was able to offset it a little bit by adding chili flakes to it to make it sweet and spicy. 

As a vegan, I was happy to see the variety of clearly labelled vegan and vegetarian options. One of them is Sprout, a new station that serves plant-forward dishes. However, there were no vegan desserts and the ice cream machine was out of order. My friend said to pass on the pudding as the texture was a little bit off but recommends the banana bread, as it was moist and comforting. 

So, is the food worth the hype? No. I can’t say it’s much better than what you would expect from what is essentially a school cafeteria. However, the increased variety of foods and expanded seating are a welcomed improvement. Dishes are returned to the dishwashing station as the Dining Commons only offers reusable dishware to eliminate single-use containers. No need to take your food to another study spot on campus because ample outlets and Wi-Fi are available. The Dining Commons is open 24/7 and is a great spot to get affordable food, get work done, socialize, and recharge!