We have all seen that stall with the sign “Professor Brawn Express” set up in the Raja Block foyer and the long snaking queue that forms during breaks. Why, most of us have even bought food, or at least a cup of bubble tea, from Professor Brawn. What makes Professor Brawn so unique, and is buying from it worth your allowance?
Great food with a great cause?
If you walk past the old location of Professor Brawn in the Y56 side of the campus, where it was situated before the pandemic, you may notice signs about how it supports an inclusive workforce. Professor Brawn is a social enterprise under the Autism Resource Centre. The staff with hats are those with special needs. Its website states that Professor Brawn’s mission is “to provide affordable good food by an inclusive quality workforce comprising people of different abilities, ages and socio-economic backgrounds.”
So how’s the food, then?
Most of the students we surveyed thought that the food was satisfactory and made up for the usual 5-10 minutes of waiting. The chicken bolognese and cheese fries seemed especially popular. We thought that the food was pretty good and the variety of options was nice. If you’re not really looking for a meal but still want something to eat, you can try the mushroom soup or get a muffin, which are a tad cheaper than the other offerings. Many students get a cup of bubble tea to complement their food. You can get a quick bite or a hearty meal of your choosing.
Burgers are a frequently chosen option on Professor Brawn’s menu, so we got a chicken burger to see why it sells so well. Well, long story short, it tasted delicious. The patty was juicy and the pineapple slices and barbeque sauce complemented it pretty well. There is also a vegetarian burger option, and the taste of the patty didn’t even deviate too much from meat. However, you may want to note that it is not vegan, as diary is used.
We also tried the cheese fries, muffins and mushroom soup, and they were also delectable. The chicken bolognese could be a bit better, according to the author’s opinion. He thought it was a bit too soupy. But overall, the food was pretty good. Based on the survey we conducted, the most popular dishes were the cheese fries and the chicken bowl. One student said that “food was pretty ok” and “worth visiting once a week”. Professor Brawn’s food got a 3.2 rating from a sample of 21 students surveyed, but you should try out the food for yourself to see how it stacks against your tastes.
Is it better than the canteen, though?
We did ask around, and students generally thought the food at Professor Brawn couldn’t beat the chicken rice, but was comparable to the other stalls. A Year 2 student commented that he “prefered the canteen because there are way more choices than Professor Brawn and you can add toppings as you wish, but at [Professor Brawn], you can only order the generic options and that was it.” Another student observed that Professor Brawn’s choices of food “are almost all western” but the canteen “has generally Singaporean food”. So, if you don’t really fancy Western cuisine, you may not want to frequent Professor Brawn. But the meals are quite comparable to the ones at the canteen.
Should you consider buying the Gong Cha?
If you didn’t know, Professor Brawn sells Gong Cha in some Healthier Choice flavours, such as Earl Grey Milk Tea and Mango Green Tea. They are priced the same as the regular Gong Cha outlets, ranging from $3 to $3.50, with $0.50 extra for toppings such as pearls. An anonymous Year 1 student remarked that “the Gong Cha milk tea tastes just as good as the one sold at the fruit stall in the canteen” though he “liked Gong Cha’s pearls more.” Overall, we thought the Gong Cha was well worth the price, and you should buy them if you want to.
Are the queues worth it?
The long queues are a regular sight, with many hungry students waiting to order food during the breaks. Sanjit Vetriselvan, from 2I, complained that he had “never gotten the chance to buy the Chicken Baked Rice” as “the queue [at Professor Brawn] is always too long and it gets sold out”. If you’re in a bit of a rush, or you need to speedrun your homework during your break, we don’t recommend going to Professor Brawn. But if you do have a bit of time and some money on hand, you could definitely head there and grab some grub. Some students cut the queue by asking their friends who had arrived before to let them stand behind them, but the author, as an upright, noble and righteous soul, discourages you from doing so.
When we asked around, a lot of students complained that the pricing of the food is higher compared to the canteen’s food, so a few students are deterred from buying from Professor Brawn. A Year 2 student, even though he patronises Professor Brawn, said that the “prices could be a bit lower”. We think the food is priced similarly to restaurants outside of school, but you might not want to go to Professor Brawn if you’re a bit short of money.
So, should you buy from Professor Brawn?
You certainly should pay a visit to Professor Brawn if you have some money to spare or if you are craving some bubble tea. The food is good, and you can do your part to support people with special needs by buying from them. If you have some time to kill before CCA, you may want to head there for something to eat. Overall, the Professor Brawn experience is quite a good one.