Set in a side corner of Blanton Hall food court, where former fan-favorite Jersey Mike’s once was, is a new dining option for Montclair State University students, Chick-N-Bap.
Chick-N-Bap is a Korean-American dining establishment founded by Sung Kim. His ultimate goal was to combine his Korean heritage with American flavors, which has now resulted in five different establishments located across Binghamton University, Ithaca College, SUNY Cortland, Lehigh University and now Montclair State. It is a restaurant made to appeal to college students, and it really seems to do just that.
From the outside in, there really is not a lot to see at Chick-N-Bap. It’s located behind a set of doors on the mid-right of Blanton’s food court. Half of the room has been undergoing construction since the semester began, and the side that belongs to Chick-N-Bap is a kitchen area where all the protein and toppings are laid out, buffet style, behind plexiglass. There’s a table in front of the kitchen unit where pick-up orders are placed and there is a soda machine on the opposite, left side. There are some LED menus hung above displaying a menu about as simple as Chick-N-Bap’s appearance.
Chick-N-Bap, which is open Monday through Friday from 10am-10pm, has only three options on the menu: a rice bowl, a burrito and a salad bowl. These three options are all relatively similar, offering the inclusion of proteins like Korean BBQ chicken, sweet and spicy Korean chicken, Korean BBQ steak, spicy Korean pork or ginger scallion impossible meat. Other possible additions are either yellow or white rice and a mix of sauces such as a yogurt-based white sauce, Bap Sauce, BBQ sauce, green sauce, Bibi sauce and hot sauce. The Chick-N-Bap menu recommends adding at least three sauces.
Lettuce can also be added along with pico de gallo, Bap corn, cucumber kimchi, soy pickled jalapenos and onions, shredded cheese, Korean hummus and pita bread. All proteins, sauces, and toppings also come with the option of adding extra for an additional price. While there are not a massive amount of options to choose from, changing up the proteins and sauces can guarantee a different order every time.
Chick-N-Bap can only be ordered through Grubhub, which for the most part is a benefit, as it allows food to be ordered ahead of time and can be a great time saver. However, sometimes the app itself glitches or will sometimes only allow Flex dollars to be used as opposed to meal swipes. This consistent glitch is at no fault of Chick-N-Bap but can be a detriment in the ordering experience, regardless.
While ordering ahead at Chick-N-Bap can be a wise thing to do, it is almost never necessary. There is almost never a wait and orders are typically prepared within ten minutes or less. The food comes out hot and almost always looks visually appetizing with crispy cheese melted on top and sauces added as if they were artistically drawn over. Any sauces and vegetables are sure to add a pop of color, and if a ton of toppings are ordered, the bowl will certainly be filled to its max. It begs to be consumed immediately upon receiving it, which makes the limited seating options feel even more disappointing.
Since Chick-N-Bap is located in Blanton’s food court, there is minimal seating to be shared among customers of Chick-N-Bap, The Virtual Kitchen and Dunkin’ Donuts, not even including students who might just be seated in the area between classes. It’s a better option to just take the food to go and eat it elsewhere on campus because waiting around for a seat will be sure to turn the meal cold.
When a seat to eat is finally secured, it is time for one of the more average but most important parts of the Chick-N-Bap experience, finding out the taste. There are truly no discernible flavors that come from the food beyond the taste of spice. The rice is clumped together and somehow sticky, despite being slightly undercooked.
The portions of each individual ingredient seem randomly decided, with there being an absurd amount of rice compared to a small amount of meat. Most of the protein comes shredded and blends in with all of the other toppings, making Chick-N-Bap essentially a pile of flavored sludge. Shockingly, this does not even mean that it tastes bad, but it is similar to the Taco Bell sensation where no matter what you order, it all kind of just tastes the same.
It seems like despite Chick-N-Bap’s mediocrity, much of the student body would still pick the establishment as a place to eat over other dining options on campus.
For example, Aashi Walia, a junior accounting major, said that the food was at the very least average.
“The food is alright,” Walia said. “The rice is undercooked, but it’s better than Sam’s.”
Brittney Williams, a senior elementary education major, noted its affordability.
“It’s a very good value for the money,” Williams said. “It’s a good-sized portion and it fills you up.”
Most options at Chick-N-Bap are between $8-$12, not surpassing more than a meal swipe and some Flex dollars. Besides dining halls, there are not many places on campus that are as inexpensive, so it certainly stands out because of that.
Chick-N-Bap is just about what one can expect from college campus dining. It is not anything spectacular in terms of flavor, but the low price point and large portions make it a spot worth checking out, nonetheless.