When you make the big decision to come to Uni, it’s highly likely you’ll get hit with a “hOpE yOu LiKe EaTiNg NoOdLeS hA hA”–usually from a relative that just spent their last $20 on a box of Cody’s.
To be fair they’re not entirely wrong. Unless you’ve cracked a mean scholarship or got born into a trust fund family, then your diet will usually consist of some high-carb based dish and whatever the cheapest box is on sale at the liquor store.
But I’m here to tell you chin up, kid, it does get better! And when you do make it over that financial slump and can finally afford to let your taste buds unleash, you’ll find that we have a few different options right outside your lecture theatre door. And because I keep telling my friends that I’m one day going to start a food blog, a cheap spread in Nexus is good enough for me.
I’ll start here because Bongo is probably the most popular spot on campus and can cater to your tight budget. Just like a Tinder match, you don’t have to make too much commitment if you don’t want to. Feeling a bit broke? Just grab a piece and say “I had a big breakfast”. Got some extra coin? Grab a bento or go ham on some premium pieces; I’m talking more than just the rolled sushi, like the rice that has seaweed on top.
Hidden gem: this may come as a shock because the real unsung hero is not even sushi related. If you’re a pie fan, then Bongo serves some of the tastiest pies right behind Z petrol station (iykyk).
All in all the variety is stellar and the staff are never not smiling, so def worth a look-in.
I once heard that this used to be a McDonald’s, but being the forgiving person I am, I won’t hold it against Sue that I can’t buy a Filet-O-Fish on campus.
However, what you can get is a different sort of combo made of delicious Asian cuisine where you can choose the type of rice or noodles you want, topped with not just 1 or 2, but up to 3 choices of meat! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a Happy Meal to me.
Hidden gem: As someone who usually likes to snack and run, the veggie spring rolls at only $1.20 are perfectly crispy and an absolute steal.
At Sue’s Cafe you feel like a valued customer and if Ashley Bloomfield was ever unable to perform his duties, I would nominate Sue to take his place.
I have a love/hate relationship with Momento in the sense that I love coffee but I hate spending money here. To be fair, the coffee is actually pretty decent and can definitely vouch for the curly fries. But this place is perfect for people who aren’t students and wanna splash out on something a bit more boujee….except most people are students and can’t quite afford the boujee. I don’t wanna be mean to Momento because the staff there are pretty decent, especially when the difficult lecturer at the front of the line wants a half-strength-soy-cappuccino-with no froth-decaf-extra hot.
Hidden gem: although my uncles would argue otherwise, the gem isn’t quite food but in the form of a Corona bucket: 20 huck for 4 Coronas, if you chip in with your mates it’s not too bad to wet your whistle while still on the Uni grounds.
Also, look out for Happy Hour from 2-3 on Tuesdays, save that money!
It’s no Subway.
I have to be honest and say that I haven’t yet tried a full meal, but Namaste has been a staple at Waikato for many a hungover student here at Waikato so they must be doing something right! And absolute props to anyone that can deliver food out of a tiny caravan especially in the sweltering dry heat that Hamilton loves to serve us. If you’re a big Indian kai fan, then this place has cheap options, because unpopular opinion: Shamiana is a rip off.
Hidden gem: if I had a dollar for every time I’ve caught up with someone at a meeting or in class and they’re eating butter chicken chips. I would have at least $7! Hot chips anything is good, but topped with a butter chicken sauce is a combo on par with Lion Red and cigarettes – it just works.
To lose a full kitchen but still get offered a spot to serve up food goes to show that even the VC wanted this kitchen to Nama-stay.