Welcome back to school everyone! If you are like me, you likely spend a great deal of your time wondering what or when your next meal is going to be. But where do you go if you’re chained to campus for the day?
As a certified obnoxious foodie, I am very careful about where I go to eat near campus because that dollar needs to stretch as far as it can go, and boy, if you like the sound of where this is going, then I’ve got a surprise for you. Presenting: Waterloo Star in the UW Plaza! I know, I was just as shocked as you were. For me, the UW Plaza has existed as a mecca of disappointment, from the Burger King that is never as good as Mcdonald’s or A&W, to the countless oily Chinese food restaurants, to the shockingly inadequate Mongolian Grill. For a long time, I believed the only decent thing I could get from the plaza was bubble tea. But lo and behold, while discovering places to review, I found the impossible. A four star review on YELP! of a place in the PLAZA?! My curiosities were piqued and your girl just had to investigate.
Waterloo Star is a Chinese restaurant located right in the middle of a chain of other restaurants, so it’s easy to miss. When I walked in on this particularly chilly night, I was surprised by how cute and homey it was. Lucky cats decorated counter tops, while anime characters glided across TV screens serenaded by gentle Japanese pop. I chose to order spring rolls and hot and sour soup to start, with sweet and sour crispy fish (amusingly featured under the “entrances” menu) along with a bowl of steamed rice. Taking in the atmosphere, I soaked in the sophisticated wooden slats on the walls, the soothing ambient lighting, and the dialogue that was enjoyably loud without being too overwhelming.
When my appetizers arrived, I literally said a small prayer (and I am not a religious person). For $5, I had been expecting your typical bowl of soup; I was not prepared for the monstrosity that was this crazy portion size. This soup could have literally fed me, as well as a small family. It was wonderful too, and exactly what the cold weather called for; it made my tongue tingle and my sinuses flare. This wasn’t your typical hot and sour soup that you find everywhere else — it was an elevated shade of familiarity that contained a far bolder flavour that somehow still wasn’t too sweet, with creamy tofu that contrasted nicely against the soup’s intensity. The spring rolls were adequate, crunchy on the outside and satisfyingly oily with its mix of carrots, cabbage, and veggies, and gloriously cheap at a dollar each, which is good enough for me.
After my appetizers had arrived, my small table felt rather overwhelmed which only worsened once my entrees promptly arrived. The crispy sweet and sour fish turned out to be elegantly cut into a pull-apart shape resembling the whole fish it had once been, and each piece gloriously came apart with a simple pull from my chopsticks. The fish was subtly flavoured, and coated in a syrupy orange glaze, light and perfectly cooked even though it was essentially deep-fried and covered in sauce. I wanted so badly to like the sauce, but it was unfortunately a bit too subtle for my taste, being only very slightly sweet. Finally, the steamed rice was perfectly cooked; light, fresh, fluffy, and beautifully domed in a tiny bowl.
Overall, my experience at Waterloo Star was great, and I could imagine myself coming back many times more. Word to the wise, (and I asked for clarification) they have a lunch special every Monday-Friday where meals are $6.99 with free refillable pops and free soup. Yeah, I know, I gotchu. Until next week, happy eating everyone!
From the Author:
Along with being a designer/artist by day, I also love wondering what and where I'm going to eat next. I'll go out and eat with you - just don't call me a 'foodie.'