As Commons at the Schwarzman Center prepares for renovation this summer, the fate of its Asian Station — which features fried rice, stir fried vegetables and lo mein — is up in the air.
Senior Director of Yale Dining Adam Millman said the option of a new Asian station will depend on the menu structure selected for next year, as well as the dining hall layouts for the two new residential colleges, Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray, which will open in the fall. He added that it is still undecided whether the new colleges will have a similar Asian selection.
“We’re still determining what our menus will be for next year and evaluating all our menu options,” Millman said, adding that Yale Dining will continue to offer Asian cuisine as part of its daily menu cycle in all dining halls, as well as the Asian bowl option available at the Ezra Stiles-Morse dining hall. The goal is to ensure diverse menus across campus, Millman said.
Byung Su Kim, who cooks for the Asian Station and rolls sushi for special events in Commons, including Freshman Dinner, said he has not heard any definitive plan about his role after Commons closes. With a background as a sushi chef, Kim has worked at the station since 2009.
“I hope that the new colleges will have a wok station or they’ll renovate another college, but I have no idea yet,” Kim said. “I really enjoy my job in Commons — I love to cook for all the people.”
The Asian Station in Commons, the largest and most central dining hall on campus, is a popular dining spot among Yalies.
Derek Mubiru ’19, co-head coordinator at the Asian-American Cultural Center, said that he didn’t think the closing of the Asian Station would be a tragic loss, but he understood many Asian American and Asian students might feel differently.
“Having another Asian station would be wonderful, but I don’t think that it’s the station that’s so important — it’s more the assurance students could have that those options will exist,” Mubiru said. “So maybe not an Asian Station per se, but just diversifying more of the food that is offered on the regular menu would be a good direction to go in.”
Karen Yao ’20, a Chinese-American student, said she appreciates the cultural representation and would be disappointed if the Asian station was not replaced. She added that elimination of the station would show a lack of Asian presence in the dining halls.
“One thing I was surprised about when I came to Yale was that there were so few ethnic options in the dining halls,” Yao said. “It is nice to see that effort in Commons with the stir-fry station, and I do appreciate the fried rice.”
Still, Yao said Yale Dining could do more to ensure better Asian food representation, including varying the Asian food options and creating more authentic, multi-national dishes.
Kaitlin Porter ’20 agreed that the Asian Station has been a popular draw in Commons, and she would miss the fried rice and wok if it were not replaced.
Benjamin Rudeen ’17 said he felt that the Asian Station has been a staple.
“One of the things I like about Commons is that it has a reliable menu that some of the other colleges don’t have, so losing [the station] I think you lose swing in the variety of flavors,” Rudeen said.
The renovation for Schwarzman Center will be completed by 2020.