CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Southern Illinois University is cooking up something new that's tasty and healthy. Plus, there's almost unlimited options.
There's now a Mongolian Grill in Trueblood dining hall that's open to students, faculty and community members.
John Shaffer, Director of Housing, says other universities around the country have something similar and it's been a hit.
"We're always looking for ways to make the dining halls a little more exciting for our students," he explains. "We've known a couple of schools that have tried a concept like this and had some really good success with it."
The new dining option opened during the fall semester and is located in an area where a small condiment station once stood.
Shaffer say before those in southern Illinois had to travel for a Mongolian grill and now it's right in their backyard.
"It's something new we were able to bring to the area," he says. "Previously folks would have to run up to St. Louis or over in Indiana somewhere for one of these grills."
Here's how it works:
Diners start by picking a bowl for vegetarians and vegans or those who like to meat. You're able to fill that up with as much fresh vegetables and fruits as you want.
Those include broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, squash, kale, baby corn, bamboo shoots, pineapple and mandarin oranges just to name a few.
There's also tofu and edamame for vegetarians and vegans who want to add plant-based protein.
The bowl is then handed off to a chef and visitors can be choose between thin Chow Mein Noodles or thicker Lo Mein Noodles.
For those who live a low-carb or Keto lifestyle, noodles can be left out.
Up next, there's several meat options including beef, kielbasa, chicken and shrimp. Of course, you can add any combination of meat that you'd like.
Then you get to choose which house-made sauce you want everything to be grilled up in. There's sweet & spicy sesame, soy sauce, ancho BBQ, Kung Pao, black bean & garlic, sweet & sour, slow burn, teriyaki and thai green curry.
This is where the bowls for vegetarians/vegans and meat eaters comes into play. Chefs are able to distinguish between the two and cook the food on separate grills to prevent any contamination.
Once the food is cooked, the meal can be finished off with toppings like sesame seeds, scallions, peanuts and red pepper flakes.
The price of The Grill also includes the dining hall's salad bars, deli, dessert bars, as well as, drinks from the Pepsi fountains featuring new flavor shots.
It's open everyday from 11 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. and more information can be found here.