When UCLA students step into the Pan-Asian-themed Feast at Rieber, they’re welcomed with greetings of “ni hao” and “gozaimasu.” They choose from a buffet of menu items that include Japanese ramen, Korean kimbap, Chinese BBQ buns, and Indian vindaloo curry. And the high demand for entry has already led to long lines outside the door of the dining hall, which holds up to 600 patrons at a time.
Feast recently opened to students after $5.1 million renovation and now comes equipped with terrazzo flooring, bamboo accents, a stone oven for cooking flatbreads, and new cups and plates of different geometric curves and sizes. Flat panel television screens broadcast shows from different Asian countries. And over 1,000 recipes from China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, and Hawaii have already been planned for the menu, with each meal featuring cuisines from two countries. To prepare these dishes, the chefs visited ethnic restaurants in Southern California and enlisted student taste-testers to test for authenticity.
The concept for Feast was also based on the presence of multicultural communities in Los Angeles as well as the presence of Asian and Asian-American students at UCLA, who make up about 40 percent of the campus demographic.
On one particular lunch, Janice Lin, who preferred not to use her real name, picks up a plate of teriyaki shrimp and a taro bun. Using chopsticks to pick up her rice, the Chinese international student says she has been here about “sixth or seven” times, and that much of the food tastes authentic, while other times it resembles more fusion cuisine.
One of the goals for Feast was to provide home-cooked memories for students. For Lin, everything from the tea cups to the candy reminds her of home in Asia. She says she comes as often as she can, and she’s still waiting for it to be open for dinner.
"When (students) look back at their college experience, a big part of the memory is the social experience of who your friends were and where did you eat,” said Peter L. Angelis, assistant vice chancellor of housing and hospitality services. He added that by adding these new dining options, patrons can also expand their social and cultural awareness.
For more information: http://www.feastatrieber.org/