Ittou, King's ParadeSam Perry

I was initially very hesitant to pen an article purporting to be able to give any comprehensive sense of what students eat in Cambridge, but on approaching the end of my second year, a realisation dawned on me. While there were many useful restaurant reviews like those done by fellow Varsity writers, the guide my 18-year-old self would have wanted, as he wasted away hours on variously flawed map applications, did not exist.

There are, of course, Cambridge food guides, but I have found that they tend to fail to do justice to the diversity within Cambridge that makes its food scene so special, often focusing on chain restaurants or those with large PR budgets and #ad campaigns. Like Pseudo-Denys then I set out, not to solve the lack of a comprehensive Cambridge student eats guide, but to fail better.

A corollary of this being my task is a number of caveats, the first of which is that ‘student eats’ are not synonymous with cheap eats, a concept that preserves the damaging hegemonies at play in much of the restaurant world. Instead, the establishments in this article will provide good value rather than a straightforwardly cheap meal. Some restaurants in this list may therefore be more expensive than a maintenance loan would allow for regularly, but where this is the case I have tried to direct the reader to tips and tricks that make these experiences more budget friendly.

There will also be a focus within this article on vegetarian/vegan options as I’m aware of the significant student population who, even if not vegetarian/vegan, are making a conscious decision to eat meat more sparingly as response to the climate emergency. In doing so I hope also to broaden the conceptions of where vegan food can come from and what it can look like, while omnivores can rest assured that vegetarian/vegan dishes act as a useful barometer of the care taken by those in the kitchen toward all dishes. In order that my list dies not by ‘a thousand qualifications’, it is here that I will start.


Thanh Binh, close to MagdeleneSam Perry

The best, and perhaps only, kept secret on Kings Parade is Ittou, a Japanese ramen restaurant, hidden away down an alley below the shops of Kings parade, that prides itself on its homemade ingredients. Offering everything from tonkotsu to vegan ramen, the care taken with the menu is reflected in the service which makes ordering more conversational than strictly transactional. My Takoyaki and Miso ramen were both exemplary, the former piping hot and creamy, the latter with a rich broth, sweet with mirin that is soaked up by homemade tofu skin and cut through by the pickled mooli.

Closer to Magdalene I also want to draw attention to Thanh Binh, a Vietnamese Restaurant serving an array of Vietnamese dishes and offering its best value with a lunch menu, available between 12 and 2 between Monday and Saturday. Presentation of each dish is immaculate, with a hibiscus leaf lying above the freshly squeezed passion fruit juice like a water lily, leaving the seeds of the fruit clustered at the bottom to swim up your straw as tapioca does in bubble tea. The starters and mains are all warm and comforting, with a beautiful Lẩu Chay (vegetable hot pot) for those vegans who prefer taro, potato, okra and lotus seed to mock chicken and mock duck (also on offer). Desserts at Thanh Binh fall into two categories, puddings and ice creams, the former category ranging from Tapioca, red bean and banana while the ice cream extends from ginger to avocado and then durian, a flavour I, as of yet, haven’t noticed at Jack’s Gelato but admittedly can’t rule out.

On the topic of Jack’s, the quality and ingenuity of whose gelato is well-attested by their running until 11 at night through the year with seemingly permanent, if fast moving, queues. A wealth of vegan offerings, a daily changing menu at both Bene’t Street and All Saints Passage locations and the ‘Request a Flavour’ google form, in combination with its popularity means there is both nothing more and too much to say concisely about Jack’s. Quite apart from the Yuzu Beet sorbets then, it should also be noted that the hot chocolate available at Jack’s throughout Michaelmas and Lent are fantastic. Served at what has been decided to be the optimal temperature of 67 degrees, although dissenters from this stance can request temperature amendments to their tastes, their various hot chocolates rely heavily on the quality of Jack’s own produce, oat milk and chocolate gelato, as well as top notch ingredients from Pump Street or Estate Dairy.

Honourable Mentions: Bridges, Chai Walla, Salathong, Taste of Cambridge, Aromi


Mountain View

Lifestyle Reviews: Isolation Café

Thank you to Yuchao Fan, Lily Zhang, Jia Zheng Ong, Roshni Ranasinghe-de Silva, Kirish Rajaseelan, Zi Ling, Angelo Thavaratnarajah, Amaka Udeagbaja, Joshua Abu, Chang Ji, Nell Ivimey-Parr and Marcus Hicks for both their new recommendations and confirmations of my own experiences.

Stay tuned for Sam Perry's next installment, featuring Cambridge Market.