Here’s an Insider Look at Some of Google’s Famous CafeteriasOctober 1, 2015
- Alex BroekmanWords
Often, among the first three things people ask about working at Google is: “Is the food as amazing as everyone says it is?” Serious Eats has described Google’s cafeterias’ offerings as, “insanely awesome,” and Business Insider once published “22 Mouthwatering Pictures of Google’s Legendary Free Food.” However, much of the fanfare around the food originates from the experience one might receive at one of the cafés on the Mothership (aka: the Mountain View campus). But what about everywhere else? Here’s an account of 5 local offices and campuses all over the world and my favorite foodie features from each of them.
Destination #1: Google Tokyo
At the Tokyo office you have 2 buffet-style cafeteria choices. The cafes are divided by cuisine—first, Japanese, and second Western (or, well, the Japanese fusion version of Western). Both follow a farm-to-table concept on much of the produce, and include detailed title cards in front of each buffet item stating macros (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and calories per serving. At my favorite of the two (the Japanese option), they serve traditional Japanese fare for breakfast every morning, and have refrigerators where hydroponic herbs are kept to pick fresh (fresh mint with your tea, anyone?). Also, the “Live Station” theme for lunch changes daily (from soba to ramen to sushi and so on).
At this office, the emphasis is on not just healthy choices but fresh choices, too.
Bonus Points at the Café For…
- The varieties of fresh vegetables
- The ability to watch your macros
- Super traditional Japanese fare (NATTO!)
- BENTOS FOR TAKE-AWAY!
Destination #2: Google Jakarta
Much smaller than many of the others, our Jakarta office has one cafeteria in it (affectionately—and very locally—named), “Warung Mbah Google”—Warung being the local word for “eatery/cooking-house” most commonly seen on the roadside, and Mbah being a term of reverence a la Tito/Uncle Google). The Warung offers lunch and afternoon snacks/”makan sore” (or as we call it in the Philippines: merienda), but is open 24/7 with fridges and pantries of available treats in case workers get hungry.
For lunch, there is always a small salad bar, a dessert, a plate of fruit, and a main buffet usually featuring: 1 live station (casseroles, baked pastas, tacos, etc.), 1 soup station, 2 vegetables, 2 proteins, and a choice between red/brown or white rice. The emphasis here is more on having all the elements of a balanced meal, and employees routinely get involved in offering both saintly and sinful dish ideas to rotate throughout the quarter.
Favorite LunchI love it when they do Indonesian food—it’s what they do best!
Destination #3: Google Singapore
The Singapore office is where I’ve had most of my work meals, and by virtue of that, it is the one I find the most difficult to find “favorites” at. But here are some of the things I love most about the “Goopitiam” anyway.
For starters, the café sports an open kitchen, and several buffets for both breakfast and lunch. At breakfast, they have an egg station, a waffle/pancakes station, freshly baked breads, an Indian breakfast selection, an Asian breakfast selection, a Western breakfast selection, and a salad and fruits bar (including cereals, milks, yogurts, and other dairies and dips such as cottage cheese, guacamole, and more). The menu is typically quite predictable, often offering oatmeal and blueberries and various roasted nuts, but my favorite thing about breakfast at The Goop is the fresh, fluffy waffles (like none I’ve ever had anywhere else: thin and crispy “skin” on the outside, soft and moist and incredibly light and airy on the inside, with a buttery kick to them).
For lunch, the café offers an Asian section, a Western section, a live station (often for carvings of roasts like duck, beef, pork, chicken, and so on; or fresh soups and dumplings), a dessert bar, a cheese selection, a fruit bar, a salad bar, and an Indian section. They also often have a sandwich area as well, which serves the same fare as what is served a couple of floors up in the Deli.
Possibly the best thing about this café is the amount of variety all in one place, and the emphasis again on healthy and balanced meals. Though they do not label everything with calories and macros as they do in Japan, they ensure all items indicate every allergen/potential dietary restriction (dairy, eggs, gluten, nuts, etc).
A quick look at what some of the buffet trays look like sometimes:
Destination #4: Google Kuala Lumpur
The Kuala Lumpur office, like the Jakarta office, is also smaller and home to only one café. There, they also serve different cuisines in rotation: most commonly Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, and western. There is always a sandwich corner where one can “grab-and-go” lunches and snacks, a live station (for things like fresh thosai—Indian dal pancake), a fruit bar, a salad bar, and two dessert options. They serve both breakfast and lunch there, but my best experiences have been over lunch, where much of the local Malaysian and Indian-influenced flare takes center stage.
Favorite Western Lunch
Favorite Asian Lunch
Destination #5: The Mothership
For good measure, I of course will include the Googleplex. At the main campus, there is no lack of choice—with multiple cafes offering specific cuisines, such as Masa for Mexican (build your own burritos, a salad bar, and more), and Slice and Yoshka’s for predominantly Mediterranean fare (everything from fresh Italian pizzas, to a salad bar of fresh pita breads, babbaganoush, hummus, and more), and Charley’s for a mixed bag of western/continental selections (plenty of American choices). Almost all of the cafes serve all three meals, and offer bento boxes for you to grab-and-go as needed, which is a great thing to have with such a large campus.