Pufferfish is a delicacy prepared by only the most skilled Japanese chefs; the fish must be prepared expertly to avoid a deadly toxin from leaking into the flesh. As a consumer, part of the thrill is waiting to see if your chef has failed. If so, you’ll be dead within minutes.

Paly has its own pufferfish on campus: our high school’s cafeteria, the Viking Cafe, located conveniently in the Student Center. If you are feeling the Las Vegas luck, forget Town and Country — this is the best place to go for lunch.

Food 

There is a plethora of culinary options offered in the Viking Cafe, from chicken sandwiches to clam chowder, and almost all are excellent. Moreover, meals are only $4.50 and come with complimentary fruits, vegetables and a carton of milk. Everyday, the Viking Cafe offers four basic food types: warm burgers, cold sandwiches, pizza and the “meal of the day.” The last item is always the most interesting — options range from a taco salad to a tuna sandwich.

However, the “meal of the day” provides much room for error, as it is prepared daily by the cafeteria staff as opposed to being warmed up on the premises. The cheese in the nachos is sometimes old and lumpy, and the clam chowder can be over salted if you come by on the wrong day. It is also worth mentioning that there is an inherent problem with the freshness of food served. For the most part, early days in the week offer fresh fruit, but the chances of receiving fresh fruit sharply decline as the week wears on. As the saying goes, “The early bird gets the non-rotten food.”

Despite the aforementioned issues, the Viking Cafe does a good job of providing students with affordable and nutritious food. Dollar for dollar, it offers the greatest quantity of quality food of any restaurant within a mile of Paly.  But every pufferfish has its deadly toxin. Let’s examine the Viking Cafe’s major flaw.

Service 

The Viking Cafe is a simple cafeteria, but there are still critiques to be made about its service. For the most part, the staff is comprised of helpful, cheerful people. But, every once in awhile, they leave the “cold” sandwiches in the freezer, so you end up eating ice instead of food.

However, the real problem is the myriad of students cutting in line which makes buying food extremely frustrating. If you stand in the wrong line, you can go from 10th place to 30th place as people bypass the natural order to stand with their friends.

This may cause up to 15-minute delays depending on the day, so aggravate the problem and bring a friend to entertain you in line!

Alternatively, you can practice the “door dash” strategy. Simply wait for the bell to ring and then dash out the door, sprint across the Quad and reach the cafeteria before anyone else does to avoid the line entirely.

It’s also worth noting that wait times will depend on the type of food being served that day. Pre-prepared meals like taco salads are handed out immediately because of easy distribution, but some meals like nachos, require cheese and beans to be ladled onto every tray before consumption, significantly furthering the delays.

This method results in warmer, better tasting food, but unless you are one of the first people to enter the cafe it also means a frustratingly long line.

Overall rating

Using simple math, if you average the scores of the two aspects have been reviewed, then you come out to three out of five stars. The nature of the Viking Cafe is its inconsistency in food and services. You can either be in and out in less than a minute or stuck in a never-ending line.

The sandwiches are either going to be ice-cold or perfectly heated. You might end lunch feeling contently full or on the toilet emptying the semi-liquid contents of your bowels. So now, the real question is: “Do you feel lucky punk?”

About The Author

Former Senior Staff Writer

Kai Oda has been writing for The Campanile since the second semester of his sophomore year. He competes for Palo Alto High School's cross country and track team and is also a recreational surfer, fisherman, photographer and snowboarder. When not editing or running Kai can be found watching unhealthy amounts of the "The Walking Dead" or "Arrow." He aims to strengthen The Campanile this year as Editor-in-Chief.

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