My friends and I frequently patronize the Eighteen Chefs branch at NEX during lunch break as campus is just a minute’s walk away. It’s common among us students to frequent this eatery because the student meal is tasty and affordable.
Eighteen Chefs offers students a $6.40 meal that includes cheese-baked rice with the accompanying sauce and sides, as well as ice cream and free-flow iced lemon tea. Topping up only 80 cents upgrades rice to pasta.
At first sight, the bowl of rice served seems surprisingly small. One poke of the fork and I am already scraping porcelain. But if the quantity of carb is disappointing, the cheese more than makes up for it. The richness of the cheese produces an umami that fills the mouth and melts on the tongue like the taste of heaven. Surprisingly, it’s the cheese rather than the rice or pasta that satisfies the stomach. The sauce (I prefer black pepper or Japanese curry) complements the cheese, rice, and the side chicken sausage well, rounding out the meal.
Considering that the meal also comes with a serving of ice-cream and a drink, it’s definitely worth the money. As such, it isn’t surprising that this outlet is the default choice for my friends and I if we cannot decide on anywhere else to eat.
The restaurant is usually packed out at lunch and dinner. Customers are constantly requesting for service, other customers queuing outside, yet the staff remain patient and cool under pressure. Bonus points are for the free Parmesan cheese we can liberally sprinkle over the main course (as if there weren’t enough cheese overload as it is). I easily give the student meal here a 10 / 10 rating.