Passion Blog..ALL YOU CAN EAT!

Buffets for me are always planned events. Since I was a kid I always remember the preparation it took for my family to go to a buffet. Days of minimal eating so that we may be hungry enough to devour as much we can to get our money’s worth (all ten dollars of it..) REGARDLESS, there’s nothing quite as satisfying..and guilt filled as going to an all you can eat place and consume to your heart’s content.

Surprisingly, there are a bunch of all you can eat restaurant downtown. From make it yourself eateries to classic asian buffets, if you have a need to be fat than State College has you covered. We’ll get to what a make it yourself location is, but before we begin allow me to introduce you to our three contestants for the showdown.


1. Green Bowl
131 W Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801
green bowl

About a half block behind the State College Theatre, Green Bowl is the first of one our make it yourself buffets. In order to avoid writing this twice, let me explain what make it yourself means with bold letters. Make it yourself restaurants are places that gives you the option to start off with a bowl and add whatever you want, they would then take the bowl and cook it in front of you. If you’ve ever had hibachi grill, it’s exactly like that. These places aren’t your traditional buffets, but it is all you can eat since you can get as many bowls as you want. Within walking distance, Green Bowl is a great thing to try out if you’ve never bad hibachi related food before, just be careful of what you put in to your own bowl.

2. Ni Hao Buffet
289 Northland Center, State College, PA 16803
ni hao

Right next to the Giant north of campus, Ni Hao is your classic asian buffet. If you’ve ever been to an asian buffet, its exactly like that. The dinner prices are unusually high (13$) here but come for lunch and its only 10$.

3. Chen’s Mongolian Buffet
1880 S Atherton St, State College, PA 16801

This place is a little out of the way, about a 10 to 15 minute drive south of campus, Chen is our other make it yourself buffet. A hibachi style bowl buffet, Chen also has a variety of sushi buffet that is offered with your meal.


This one was really fun for me to “research,” especially since I love all you can eat places. The only advice I can offer you is to NOT COMPETE WITH ANYONE IN A FOOD EATING CONTEST. The food at these places are actually extraordinarily good  for buffets, weird for state college right?

1. Ni Hao Buffet (only during lunch, else it would be Chen’s mongolian)
The pricessssssssss…why does it have to be 13$…
But if you go during lunch than this place is awesome. Clean, delicious, and bountiful, Ni Hao blows most asian buffets out of the water. I couldn’t get over how nice the decor was and how clean everything it was. The attendees literally run around cleaning every inch of the place, and they are all really nice to the patrons. The food is good for a buffet place, with everything asian you could find (Fried rice, noodles, chicken, etc) and a variety of American cuisine (burgers, pizza, friend whatever). My favorite part is that I enjoyed the sushi here! Sushi is my favorite food, if you do a bad sushi I’ll hate it immediately. It even tasted fresh! Fresh seafood in State College can you imagine! But back to Ni Hao, take your girl out on a date or your parents here when they visit and no one would disappointed.

2. Chen’s mongolian buffet
I like make it yourself places, because I like to play chef and create either delicious or terrifying creations. Chen beats out Green Bowl because somehow the food tasted alot better. The added sushi bar here also might have helped my decision. It would probably beat out Ni Hao if the location was better, this place is FAR. Still the creative aspect and how good it tastes makes it a good contender on the list. One thing you have to know about make it yourself, you don’t have to follow the recipes they give you (as in what goes good with what, for example a particular sauce with onion beef and rice) but nine times out of ten if you don’t follow their recipes, its going to taste terrible. CREATE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.

3. Green bowl
If you want to try make it yourself without driving all the way out to Chen’s (because you really just can’t walk there), Green Bowl is a good option to try. The decoration is very hipster and quite clean, the food however is not that delicious. It’s still very good, but I’m totally compare it Chen’s and that makes it lacking. This place is especially good if you are a vegetarian, they have an entire recipe list for vegetarians.

WELL GUYS, this is my last passion blog..for the semester. BUT I REALLY LOVE WRITING FOOD BLOGS, so idk, we’ll see if I can continue this.
Thank you professor Babcock, for a great year. Freshmen year had its up and downs, but I honestly want to say I loved honors english. It was fun, and it gave me a perspective on how college is going to work for writing classes. Please allow me the chance to take you to the faculty dinner next semester.

Passion Blog – Japanese Cuisine


If you’ve read any of my passion blogs from last semester you would know that I had lived in Japan for a good number of years when I was young. Of all of the countries that I’ve ever been to, I think I may have enjoyed Japan the most. Not that I want to be Japanese, no but just the country itself is just extremely enjoyable. Clean, polite and simple, these three words describe a majority of what Japan is like, including the food.
Japanese food is definitely my favorite, there’s something about the simplicity of the cuisine. A Japanese style dish would have less than 5 ingredients and each component plays a critical part. There’s usually not an insane amount of oil and I usually walk away from a meal feeling good about my well being.

So one of the first things I did when I first moved to State College was exploring around to find a good Japanese inspired restaurant.
AND WITH THAT, allow me to introduce our three contestants for today.

1. Tadashi – Noodle bar
206 W College Avenue, State College
I became obsessed with visiting this place when I first found out it opened back in January. Growing up with good ramen, I was so insanely excited when I found out that an “authentic” Japanese Ramen shop was opening within walking distance. I’ll get to my review of the food and restaurant during the actual show down.

2. Maki Yaki – Japanese Cuisine
407 E Beaver Avenue, State College
maki yaki
Sushi, noodles and a variety of “authentic” japanese fast foods, Maki Yaki is one of those places that you go to on a whim. I spent the first couple of months at Penn State almost depressed that I can’t find a sushi place, so out of desperation I decided to walk to Maki Yaki for “sushi.” You’ll read about why there’s quotations around that word later.

3. Okinawa II Japanese Restaurant
450 E College Ave State College, PA 16801

I first heard about this place from an alumni who had told me how much he liked the place when he went to school here. However, that was either a VERY long time ago or I went to the wrong place. Let this blog post be a public service announcement, if you enjoy japanese food, nay if you enjoy eating in general, DO NOT COME HERE.


In first place we have
1. Yummy Cafe! – Let me be frank, NONE OF THESE ARE TRULY AUTHENTIC and Yummy Cafe and Tadashi were neck and neck.
The one reason Yummy Cafe won over Tadashi was because the food was less disappointing. The cafe itself is small and out of place, with scrambled setting that always looks like its about to move. The food is the saving point though, the chef (who i got to speak to) said that he grew up in Japan and cooked asian food all his life. Over all I’d say give Yummy Cafe a try if you’re in the area, other wise just go to chipotle.

In Second place we have
2. Tadashi Noodle Bar tadashi-580x348
Honestly I feel bad about the review I’m about to give to Tadashi. The restaurant isn’t bad at all, I promise, but I came with sky high expectation and it disappointed that entirely. With that said, I think everyone should come to this resturant at least once, more for how the place looks than anything else. The aesthetics are AMAZING, coming from someone that has lived in Japan for a number of years, Tadashi looks 98% authentic. However, regardless of how  much I love the look of the restaurant, the  food was SO DISAPPOINTING. First of all, $11 for a bowl of ramen is never acceptable. Ramen is suppose to be cheap, everyone knows that. More importantly, it didn’t taste good…it tasted edible but either too salty or completely bland. Still, its a really fun place to go on a date or to impress an asian friend. (Oh and before I forget, appetizers here are actually fairly tasty.) Tadashi would have totally won this showdown if I didn’t have such high expectation.

3. Okinawa II Japanese Restaurant
DON’T, for the love of god DON’T come here if you like good food. The things that I do for this blog, seriously…I have never eaten such bad food, and I’m pretty sure it made me sick.. The restaurant is definitely on my blacklist now. The food wasn’t fresh, what they pass for sushi is, dare I say it EVEN WORST THAN BUFFET SUSHI. Sushi is my favorite food, if you mess with it, you mess with me. Over priced, disgusting and seriously just bad. I repeat, do not come here if you value food.

Next time we take a look at..dare I say it..Fast food..(ugh)
Till then, Chow on.

Mama Mia…Pizza Showdown

There’s two kinds of pizza, good pizza and bad pizza, and bad pizzas are still pretty good.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy fast food, EVERYONE loves pizza. I’m 98% sure its every school children’s favorite “vegetable” (still not buying it school systems in America). On a school campus such as ours, pizzas are the go to delivery item on the weekends. That being said, my review of each pizza restaurant is based on two factors, the actual taste of each pizza AND what ordering from them is like.

The list that I have decided on today is based on their popularity and how well known each restaurant is.

And now we are at the point of the show where we introduce our competitors, on the chopping block today we have

1. Canyon Pizza
260 E Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801

You might have never stepped in Canyons, but i’m sure you would recognize the black and white police inspired Canyons Pizza delivery car. Canyon has become more or less a staple for Penn State Students, greasy and dependable. Especially after a night on the town, the walk between frat parties to Canyons is one that has been trodden times again.

2. Gumby’s Pizza
300 S Pugh St #101, State College, PA 16801

If you don’t keep an eye out for gumbys you can easily miss this tiny inconspicuous pizza parlor, so its a good thing that gumby’s has a few tricks up its sleeves.

3. Mama Mia’s Pizza
128 E College Ave State College, PA 1680

Sorted right across our main hall, Mama Mia’s is more known for as one of the “nicer” pizza restaurants. I will discuss the matter of taste during the ranking but it’s safe to say that the main reason Mama Mia has been added on this list is due to the quality of their pies.

SHOWDOWN – May the best pie win

In FIRST PLACE we have Mama Mia’s Pizza
This really wasn’t a hard question to make, in terms of taste and quality Mama Mia’s blows the competition out of the water. Let’s all be honest, Canyon’s and Gumby’s pizza are more or less designed to satisfied slightly tipsy college students, their main concern wasn’t how gourmet they could make their pies. Mama Mia’s tasted the best, with a very sweet sauce and lots of attention to details. As for the interior decorations, Mama Mia’s had a very cute Italian themed that was used to the full extent. The only downside to Mama Mia’s I guess would be that it is slightly more expensive than the other options on this list.

In SECOND PLACE we have Canyon Pizza
canyon pizza
We’ve all have Canyon Pizza, whether or not it was wanted or not, we ALL have had Canyon at least one time or another. Cheesy, oily and best of all, cheap as dirt. To be completely honest, I actually think Canyon’s is pretty tasty too, once you get over the fact that you’re basically drinking a class of cooking oil while eating a slice. (The bar-b-que chicken pizza is my personal favorite.) There’s really nothing too bad I can say about Canyon pizza because everyone already recognizes the faults, we know what we’re about to put in our body isn’t good for us. The store itself looks like a party deck for college kids, high ceilings and more often than not filled with drunk students on a Friday night. While the aesthetics aren’t five star material, you get you pay for.

In THIRD PLACE we have Gumby’s
I don’t like Gumby’s. 
Whew, had to get that off my chest. For some weird reason, most people I know have a soft spot for Gumby’s that I never really figured out why. The pizzas taste mediocre at best and Pocky sticks are basically baked pizza dough with a minimal amount of cheese on top. The store is small, dungeon like and not very clean. The only saving grace is that a large box of Pocky Sticks (Which are a Gumby’s special, baked pizza dough with cheese) is only around 6 dollars, but even then the enjoyment in these hard pieces of dough is very limited.

Regardless there are many other pizza place in State College and I think I want to write another pizza related blog soon!
Until next time, chow on!

Passion Post, Sammich edition

Bread, lettuce, tomato, cheese, meats bread. The sandwich is a magnificent creation that capitalizes on the best aspects of all of its components. Having the solid base of bread, the freshness of vegetables, the creaminess of cheese and the savoriness of meats, I can publicly make my announcement that I LOVE SANDWICHES.

However, Sandwiches are also not created in equals. Like a high school cafeteria, Sandwiches belong in different cliques. The basic, normal sandwiches that don’t really stand out but still remain incredibly satisfying. The massive, “jock,” sandwiches that scares and intimidates upon first glance. And the “artistic” unique sandwiches that have a special flair upon them, such as a unique ingredient or creative visuals.

Regardless of our individual love for sandwiches, I am here today to help you find the best sandwich on campus. And with that, allow me to graciously introduce today’s three restaurant combatants.

1. The sandwich shops on our school commons. commons sand
-The reason I choose to include our school sandwich shops is because of its “commonness,” (haha). No but really, these sandwich shops used primarily because of their closeness to campus and of its compatibility with meal points. For 1.50$ a sandwich, the commons were definitely my go to Sandwich joint during my freshman year. Grabbing a quick sandwich on my way out to class during lunch, the commons definitely have a special place in my heart.

2. Irvings
– 110 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801

A popular bagel sandwich shop located right on college avenue that is open basically all day (7 am to 12 am). If you haven’t gone to Irvings, than welcome to State College, because EVERYONE has gone to Irvings who live here. There’s nothing better than looking forward to going to Irvings, grabbing a nice bagel sandwich and a delicious milkshake.

3. Lemongrass
-432 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801
lemon grass

Located near the McDonalds, Lemongrass specializes in uniquely vietnamese food. Although the store isn’t specifically sandwich based with tons of other vietnamese options, their sandwich (Banh Mi) is one of my favorite foods on campus and I thought it would be nice to add on to this list.

while the competition was pretty fierce with this one, a decision has been made regarding the best sandwich hub on campus. AND THE RANKINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS

The winner
Irvings Bagel Shop
This was a close one, between lemongrass and Irvings I had a tough decision to make but Irvings did win by a slight margin. The sandwiches here are definitely delicious but that wasn’t what made Irvings the winner, it was the setting and small details. Creaky wooden floor board, charming decor, and a variety of other tasty meal options made the aesthetic  eatery a great place to grab a drink and just hangout. Personal favorite is the smoked salmon bagel sandwich, and a strawberry milkshake. For all of you protien heads out there, bring your own powder and they’ll even make it into a tasty treat for you. Price range is fair to cheap, if you haven’t been to irvings yet…do yourself a favor and GO.

2. Lemongrass banh mi
Lemongrass has a special place in my heart, I came here once a week for the majority of my first and second semester. The manager is a good friend of mine and you really can’t get better service anywhere else. The bahnmi sandwich is honestly to die for, especially the pho-wich or the vietnamese cold cut. The reason that this sandwich is even on this list is because of its uniqueness. While most sandwiches we consume contains bread cheese and meat, lemongrass creations contains pickled radishes, seasoned carrots, salted cucumbers and an assortment of asian inspired condiments. It’s a really refreshing sandwich after a lifetime of tomato, mayo and shredded lettuce. Pricing around 7 dollars for a footlong delicacy.

3. Dorm dinning hall creations
I feel almost bad giving this place a bad review, it’s not a bad place at all just…too ordinary. That being said, I’ll always love dining hall commons for their dependability, and their price. For less than 50 cents a sandwich, there is no reason not to love dining hall sandwiches.

Hopefully this review has given some people something to chew on (haha). And until next time, chow on!

Passion Post 4 – Fancy Feast Off

At one point or another, there is a need for us to put on the suit and tie and dine to impress. Whether this be for a parental visit on the weekend, or because there’s a cute girl in class you want to ask out, fancy restaurants are a great way to express how much you value your dining partner (or its a great way to “accidentally” forget your wallet when mom and dad visit).

And no, I am no certainly not talking about Chili’s or Applebee’s, not even Red Lobster or TGI Friday’s. I’m talking about some real fancy, dim lighting, casual jazz music in the back ground, non-chain restaurant fancy. (With the tiny artisan breadsticks and everything.) And while there are plenty of fancy eateries around campus, we are going to examine three of them today.



The Corner Room – Classic fine dining in State College, regardless of whether or not you have personally eaten here, everyone knows where the Corner room is. Partially due to it’s great location right on College Avenue, partially because of prestige the location holds, the Corner Room is an obvious classic. A State College resident since 1929, the place itself is more history than anything else. Fairly average pricing with a entree averaging around $10 – 12.









2. Spatz – I’m not quite sure how many people would turn their heads at the name, but Spatz is one of the classic Cafe and Speakeasy restaurants on campus. Located almost directly in front of Old Main, Spatz has the advantage of an amazing location right on College Avenue. With a New Orleans themed almost crammed down your throat, Spatz is a popular location with average pricing for dinner ($10-15) and a cheaper lunch menu ($7-10). 082712a







3. The Tavern – Easily recognizable on College Avenue with it’s distinguishable sign of a red apple, the Tavern is another classic “dress up” dinner locations. Priding itself on giving their customers a 18th century “Ambiance,” the Tavern is a more expensive but entertaining location for a meal. Slightly more expensive with main entree’s ranging more around the 20 dollar range, the Tavern is more of an experience, but quite an enjoyable one.






THE FACEOFF ewing-galloway-boxing-gloves-hanging-on-the-wall-150x150





1). Spatz –
In terms of enjoyment, pure basic enjoyment of the food, the service and the atmosphere, Spatz definitely won the competition. Of all three option, Spatz is most definitely the most relaxed, while at the same time retaining its competitive edge as a fancy dining experience. While all three restaurants had their own theme, I loved loved loved the New Orleans theme Spatz had going on. The entire diner had a cool jazzy feel to it, and the music was perfect, not too serious and fun. I think that was one of the main reason I loved Spatz so much, both the Corner Room and Tavern made me feel cramped, like I was a kid being told to behave at a restaurant. Spatz made me feel more like I was just having fun with a friend or on a date. It doesn’t hurt that lunch is only 7 dollars for some killer jambalaya. Also, some of the best service I have seen ever, the fact that I can address the staff by their first name after my first time going probably means that they’re doing something right. I think for the most part Spatz is known to more relaxed and fun, the couple of times that I have been, one thing I’ve repeatedly noticed was how the crowds were almost entirely older people, I think I’ve only seen one college age compatriot at Spatz. This somehow made it more interesting, I love it when older couples lock eyes across the room and raise their wine glasses, classy as heck.

2). The Corner Room –
The classic, the Corner Room was a lot more enjoyable than I had originally thought. The food was excellent, a perfectly cooked burger with a side of fries and a coke, it’s down to earth American cooking. The more ostentatious meals that were offered also had great reviews from the people who’ve tried it. It is however more serious than Spatz , which to be honest has pros as well as cons. The Corner room is more of a “plan weeks in advance” location, you can’t just go on a whim like to Chipotle. Going to the Corner Room is as much of an experience as actually eating there, there’s something special about knowing that where you’re going to have dinner that night is the same place people’s been having their meal since the 1920’s. Though the service for that night was a bit lacking, it was partially  due to the fact that the day I went was also Thon weekend, huge crowds all around.

3). The Tavern –
Man, what a crazy place. Dim lit, fancy suits and gorgeous dresses. I mean, the candles felt like an over kill but I do have say, great presentation, they’ve hit the 18th century ambiance right on the nose. I half expected to walk out into a gas lamp lit road with horse drawn carriages and everything when I left. This level of atmosphere also meant that the evening was extremely serious, with a hush level of conversation and a lot of confused looks as to whether or not the fork I’m using for the salad was right or not. It isn’t a first date place, I’ll repeat that DON’T take a girl/boy here for your first date. Not the the Tavern isn’t nice, it is a little TOO nice, think more of an uncle of grandparents coming for a visit. Either that or an anniversary, heck the Tavern would be a good “Sorry I did something wrong” type of establishment too. The veal was gorgeous, cooked to perfection, I knew the food was going to be good when I sat down to candles and music but it was seriously good food. The con’s were that the food was expensive and the service was good but long. $17 for a slightly smaller piece of meat and an hour wait made the experience a little worse, but overall it’s an experience I’d recommend.

Civic Issues blog post 2

In which Josh get’s more in depth in to the core problems with Higher Education.
As it turns out, this is our next english assignment. (Lucky me).

I wanted to write about a specific example of higher education. More specifically, higher education in Finland. As many people know, higher education in Europe is drastically different than anything we have here. Although there are several reasons why you may be able argue the down side of their school system, I personally think that Finland and all the other European countries are doing something right.

The gist of the Finnish Education system is that there is no tuition fee along with fully subsidised meals served to students who are full time. The availability of education isn’t even just at the level Universities. Free education is provided starting at an incredibly young age. The present day finnish school system provides a daycare program, nine year comprehensive school and post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education, higher education at a Uni and finally lifelong adult education. The interesting thing about the Finnish education policy is that they do not select, track, or stream students during early education at a common basic level. All levels of the education is publically funded.

The Nordic strategy for achieving equality and excellence in education has been based on constructing a publicly funded comprehensive school system without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education.[1] Part of the strategy has been to spread the school network so that pupils have a school near their homes whenever possible or, if this is not feasible, e.g. in rural areas, to provide free transportation to more widely dispersed schools. Inclusive special education within the classroom and instructional efforts to minimize low achievement are also typical of Nordic educational systems.[1]

After their nine-year basic education in a comprehensive school, students at the age of 16 may choose to continue their secondary education in either an academic track (lukio) or a vocational track (ammattikoulu), both of which usually take three years. Tertiary education is divided into university and university of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, formerly known as polytechnic) systems. Universities award licentiate– and doctoral-level degrees. Formerly, only university graduates could obtain higher (postgraduate) degrees, however, since the implementation of the Bologna process, all bachelor degree holders can now qualify for further academic studies. There are 17 universities and 27 universities of applied sciences in the country.

The Education Index, published with the UN‘s Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Finland as 0.993, amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with DenmarkAustralia and New Zealand.[2] The Finnish Ministry of Education attributes its success to “the education system (uniform basic education for the whole age group), highly competent teachers, and the autonomy given to schools.”[3]

According to the latest PISA assessment 2012, Finland does not have the best education system in the world anymore, ranked 12th with a score of 519 barely passing Canada (518), Poland (518) and Belgium (515). Finnish Ministry is determined to seek non-Finnish experts to fix the current situation[4]

Passion Blog #3 – The tex-mex faceoff


Mexican food has more or less become a staple in a college student’s diet. Whether it is the weekend burrito get-away or the 5 am post bar crawl nachos, mexican cuisine plays a huge role in the identity of a undergrad’s life. I’m not sure if it’s the inexpensive take and and go part of the food itself or the fact that such a weird combination of rice, beans, salsa and meat can be so delicious, something about mexican cuisine just speaks to each and every one of us. There’s nothing quite like knowing there’s a perfectly good burrito bowl sitting at a local mexican joint nearby, and for me personally, that’s half the reason I wake up in the morning.

In regards of the three Tex-Mex restaurants that we’re going to be looking at today, two restaurants are quite familiar while the third one might not be as popular, irregarldess, lets take a look at our three contestants today.

1. Chipotle –

chipotle burrito

Chipotle, aka, my second home. What can I say about Chipotle that people don’t know about already. Located on Heiser street, Chipotle burritos has driven the majority of the university population. America might run on Dunkin, but most of us certainly run on Chipotle. Founded in 1993, Chipotle focused themselves on fast tasty meals for those who have a hankering for some non tradition mexican grub. Today, there are 1,500 Chipotle locations in the U.S. and it is one of the most popular fast food chains in the country.

2. Quoba.qdoba

If you’ve never been to Qdoba, it’s essentially just like Chipotle. There are definatley differences that we’ll get to in the showdown but for the sake of time and words, Qdoba burrito is the same self selection burrito restaurant that makes up the core components of Chipotle. Located on 208 W College Ave, Qdoba was founded in 1995 with only around 600 locations.

3. Mad-Mexdownload

Here we move into new territory, Mad-Mex for those that haven’t been is a very different animal than Chipotle or Qdoba. The main difference is that it isn’t a fast food resturant, more of a sit down diner with a bar on one end. With an extensive menu, wait staff and full course meals, Mad-Mex is a refreshing take on Tex-Mex cuisine. An Australian based company, they focus themselves on Cali-Mexican hybrid.


FACEOFF TIME –ewing-galloway-boxing-gloves-hanging-on-the-wall-150x150

Our first place award goes to – CHIPOTLE BURRITOS
– I’m quite sure those that have been to Chipotle understands the appeal. The menu might be lacking compare to it’s competitors, but Chipotle definatley makes up for that fact with how good their food is. One of the reasons Chipotle remains to be one of my favorite food joints is how their food is always so fresh. If you haven’t been to a Chipotle, here’s the basic mess – Start off choosing a burrito, bowl, tacos, or a salad – Move on to two kinds of rice, two kinds of beans, five types of protein, four types of salsa and other varied options. The process is super simple and speedy, (though lines here tend to get long so come with a fully charged phone and wait in line for a bit.) With great pricing (A burrito is often around 7 dollars) and I can’t emphasize this enough, REALLY GOOD, FRESH
FOOD, Chipotle defiatley takes home the belt. 
chipotle burrito

2. Qdoba
– The Chipotle vs Qdoba war has ended people, and a clear winner has been decided. Regardless of how similar these two chains are, the truth of the matter is that, Qdoba’s food (THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF A RESTURANT) isn’t as good as Chipotle’s. One thing I do have to commend Qdoba for is how varied the menu is, with selections ranging from Quesodilla’s to Gumbo bowl’s, if variance is what you’re looking for than Qdoba’s your main man. There are also a lot more options on the table including the ever popular “Queso Sauce.” But at the end of the day, the rice is hard, the meat isn’t fresh and I’ve actually seen an employee fill up the gumbo bowl in the back room from a dirty looking plastic bag. I don’t care how much you enjoy Qdoba, that garlicy velvetta juice they pour on to your burritos isn’t enough to make it better.


3. Mad-Mex
– I may have came in with sort of a high expectation, but Mad-Mex definitely left me wanting. Though I do have to say, I had expectations for Chipotle and Qdoba that have been there since the beginning of high school so the rating system might not be completely fair. Let’s just say this, do not go in to Mad-Mex expecting the very best out of hybrid Cali-Mex food. In layman’s term, it’s the same stuff they serve you at Chipotle, so don’t go in looking for whatever the Mexican equivalent is to foisgras and truffles. The sit down meal was definitely a difference, I’ve become so used to shoveling down an entire burrito in the span of 3 minutes that it was actually quite awkward to eat there. The service was average, nothing to write about and the food was so lack luster I was almost bored. Not that anything was bad! It was just the fact that I paid way more (almost 14 dollars for one person) than I got. Still, the environment was nice and the decor is awesome, if whoever you’re trying to impress has a soft spot for Tex-Mex cuisine, that I totally recommend a first date here.


ordered by Josh @ Chipotle since the beginning of time.

1. Burrito
2. White Rice
3. BOTH BEANS (its the same price people)
4. HALF steak, Half barbarroca. (You get more of both, trust me)
5. Mild, medium, corn salsa (I get double portions of the mild)
6. sour cream, cheese and lettuce
7 (optional). You can get guacamole if you’re rich enough.

Passion Blog #2 – Shaolin Showdown (versus)

There are plenty of Chinese restaurants around State College that we as students can take full advantage of. And Chinese is something that is extremely close to my heart, if you mess up Chinese, trust me…I would know. But as is the purpose of this passion blog, today we will discuss the various Chinese restaurants around Penn State, and I will be giving my own personal opinions about each restaurant.

I was borned in China, in Dalian to be exact. Chinese food has always been a part of my life, especially since my grandpa was a huge cook. So coming to America, finding real chinese food has not been easy. For some weird reason, most people here believe that orange and chicken is a national treasure of China…or that general tso was just really good at making stir-fry. The fact of the matter is that, most “chinese” food here isn’t really chinese food. However, there are a few restaurants on campus that I believe does chinese quite well. The ones that I will be talking about today is

-Big Bowl- 418 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801 



-Chopsticks express- 134 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801




-China Dragon- 147 S Allen St, State College, PA 16801



These three chinese restaurants are Big Bow, Chopsticks Express, Little Szechuan, and China Dragon. For me personally, these four restaurants are all fairly good examples of good chinese around campus.

Before we get to ratings and which restaurant I would recommend the most, let’s clear up how I will be judging each establishment.

The ratings are based in importance of
1) The Taste

2) The service

3) The setting and decoration

4) Price and portions

5) Authenticity.

These are the basic ways that I will be judging each restaurant. With that being said, lets get started from favorite to least favorite.

1st place – Big Bowl –
Big bowl is a very popular dining place on campus. I will bet that at least one of your friends have mentioned big bowl, especially if they are asian. If you are looking for good chinese food with impressive portions than big bowl is the place for you. The restaurant itself is huge, and although the service is a but lacking, the way the meal is prepared for you doesn’t necessarily require too much service. The menu at big bowl is also enormous, with ranges from stir fry and rice to things like dumplings. One of my personal recommendation at big bowl is a “Manto,” chinese steamed bread. Sweet and soft, big  bowl’s Manto and dumplings are two of the main reasons that I got there so often. One drawback to big bowl (and literally all of the Chinese restaurants on campus) is that you have to pay in cash. How inconvenient Out of 10 big bowl would earn 7-8/10.

2nd place – Chopsticks express-
It’s a bit difficult to find this restaurant, squeezed at the edge of PNC bank. Chopsticks is easy to miss just because of how small the restaurant itself is. But don’t judge a book by its cover, this is one of my favorite lunch time dining places. Chopsticks has very authentic chinese cuisine, very similar to what I grew up with. At the same time, the food isn’t so out of the world that it’ll alienate those who might not be familiar with exotic chinese food. The meal and portions size of chopsticks is definitely one of my favorite characteristics about the restaurant. 5 dollars for an amazing portions, you really can’t go wrong with this place. Plus, out of the four restaurants, Chopsticks definitely has the best service. In regards of drawbacks, my one complaint about Chopsticks is that the variety is extremely limited and pretty much unchanging.
Out of 10, Chopsticks would earn 6-7/10

3rd place -China Dragon-
Out of the four, China dragon is probably the most out of the way. If you know where Chili’s is on Allen street, then just walk a few more steps and you’re at China Dragon. The set is almost identical to chopsticks, but with more variety. It’s sort of easy to understand why people might prefer China Dragon over Chopsticks, the food is similar and just as authentic and China Dragon is only a dollar or two more expensive. However, my drawback with China Dragon is that the service has always been crappy. I have been to that restaurant about 4 or 5 times and not once have I ever gotten a smile or great service. If China Dragon had better service, it would definitely be better than Chopsticks.
Out of 10, China Dragon would earn 6-6.5/10

There are actually other Chinese restaurants around campus that I haven’t eaten enough to give a good review at. For example
 Little Szechuan – 228 W College Ave, State College, PA 16801

is another great place to try, though it might be packed most of the time.

If you are ever get the cravings for anything Asian, hopefully this blog post might help you make a decision. I want to try out other asian restaurants and give an updated comparison list later this semester, till then

Civic Issues – Higher Education

One of the earliest memories I have on the topic of higher education was with my parents at an extremely early age. IT was always discussions about future plans and my parents would always ask me “Which college do you want to get in to? Harvard or Yale?”


This always interested me, the question was never “What do you want do with your life?” or “what do you want to do when you become an adult?” It was always, which college do you want to get to and then which graduate career do you want to get into and so on and so forth. The most peculiar part of my parents saying things like this was that they weren’t even in America, two Chinese adults were forcing the idea of Harvard and Yale on their son, thousands of miles away from either Harvard or Yale.

The globalization of the idea about higher education gives insight into how important higher education is. Most people in the united states can tell you without fail that higher education is entirely necessary if you want to get ahead in life. A 2002 census bureau investigation shown that college graduates earn almost twice as much over their lifetimes as high school gradates. In the past few decades, the enrollment of students in community college has raised up steadily. In a recent study done by the Higher Education Research Institute, having a higher education degree can even go as far as improving your mental and physical health. There are probably hundreds more benefits of having a higher education, so you might be asking, “what’s the problem than?”

The problem with higher education is that it’s a very traditional system that is very hard to change. With complaints about the soaring cost of a college education and the huge amount of debt that many students have to endure for decades after they get out, there is high pressure on our government to amend the topic of higher education. This is where much of the problem lies, it’s difficult to change the system in such drastic measures and not have reproductions for doing so.  The debate in the state capitals and at Washington is pretty much over how much of the public money, if any, should be going towards making college more affordable.

What many people do not realize is just how restrictive higher education is. Who you become as an adult and the kind of impact that you would have on society is to a varying degree based on your success in university. At the same time how ever, which university or college you can enroll at is dependent on your economic standings. In a research done by Higher Education Research Institute, 67% of current college freshmen believe that their current economic standpoint affected the college they choose to attend. Almost 43% choose their college based on the cost of the school.




The problem here is that college student’s future is based on their current economic standing rather than their intellect or abilities. In fact, in terms of first choice schools, more and more people are opting out to attend a school more financially secure around their own economic standings. Close to 16% less high school graduates chose to go their second choice or third choice schools. Sacrificing your education for the purpose of saving a few dollars would mean that the school system itself is essentially broken.

The fact is that high education is flawed in so many ways, and to begin to approach this issue would require a great deal of effort both on our parts as citizen and student and the cooperation of congress and washington DC to decide what is the best move.

First passion blog – FOOD REVIEW 2014

So for this semester I decided to write my passion blog about something I’m both passionate about and something that I actually have first hand experience with. The problem with last semester’s passion blog wasn’t so much that I disliked writing about it, it was more so that I didn’t have first hand experience with most of the places that I wrote about which made it difficult to write about. But, one thing I did enjoy was writing about the food for different locations across the world, which is why i choose to write my passion blogs specifically on cuisine around state college.

So without further adieu, welcome to my passion “food” blog


The first sample of food products that we will be looking at today is….our lovely, lovely food commons. While there are many out there, each food common has it’s own pros and cons (emphasis on the cons). There’s obviously a negative connotation in our minds when it comes to the Pennstate dining halls, but to be honest, they’re actually not as terrible as we make them out to be…well at least not all the commons.

Depending who you are, where you live and most importantly, how far you want to walk, there are 5 food commons on campus that students can go to. These include, the East commons (Finlay commons), the north food district, the Pollock dining commons, the south food district and the west food district. Each of these dining commons offer all you can eat meal options (though some have pay for what you eat sections too). The meals at each common, despite what some may say be better than others, are all similar if not exactly alike. Lets be honest now, you really think the food at east is honestly going to be that much worst than what you can find at Pollock? It’s all on one campus and it’s all the same food, calm down. To get more specific, the food at each common ranges daily and the options are actually quite varied. Fish, chicken, steak and veggies are all on the menu, most places also have individual pizza, pasta or salad options. Honestly we have it pretty nice compare to what some of my friends at other colleges get.

At the same time, I’m most certainly not putting Penn state food commons at the top of my list when it comes to culinary delights. The food is dry and taste weirdly…..all the same. More often than not, the piece of chicken I eat during dinner does a great impression of the Sahara Dessert and for some odd reason, the pork fillet and the beef ribs taste 100% the same. The fish has a off putting taste and the salad bar has a great selection of rapidly wilting vegetables. But still, it’s around 4$ for a meal that’s all you can eat depending on where and when, a great deal if you ask me.

Now comes the problem of which food common is the best. This concern would be different between everyone on campus, but here is my personal opinion.

1st place – Pollock food commons – The dining hall is really nice! There’s actually image002an attempt at making everything look nice. The meals are still the same but goodness, there’s SO much more options. Also, the non buffet options are actually really awesome when you consider there’s touch screen ordering.

2nd place – South food district –Edomae

The options are far less than Pollock, but the non-buffet options range from friend food to sushi with some pan fried noodles mixed in. Plus the coffee place at south has a really cute barista.

3rd place – West food district – Waring-Square-logo

Much like Pollock, the options are intense, and the cookies aren’t kidding around. I sort of made a fool out of myself first semester at west so I can now no longer go there, but you guys should still take advantage of it.

4th place – North food district – This is my house…and I hate it. Well…let’s just 1call it tempered love. It’s there when I need it and it hasn’t failed me that much yet. The food is bland, there’s no options but its quaint and cute. We can compare North to one of those ma and pa diners that your family goes to purely for tradition.

5th place – East food district – No comment, do not want, does not advise, stay away, danger danger danger.SoldeCobre_2

This has been a first attempt at getting back in to blogging. Let me know what you thought of it, too long? too short? idk…