Commonwealth Avenue, or the windy frozen tundra — to be honest, I can’t tell the difference. Just touching the tip of Boston winter, my summer-loving self yearned for a taste of warmth again. Lucious palm trees, days on the beach — what I would give for a UV above five.
Luckily, BU dining service had me covered.
On Nov. 7, BU Hawaiian Cultural Association took us all on a trip to the tropics of Hawaii.
After scanning my ID and stepping through the gates of Warren Dining hall, I was given a lei with flowers of vibrant blue, and ready for my challenge at hand. The menu for the night was vast, and it was my conquest to try it all.
I skipped past the stations on normal rotations — the infamous Warren chicken tenders (which my friends for some reason can’t stop fawning over) and the crowd of students standing like an army at attention in front of the round grill. After taking a lap of the dining hall, I made note of the flavors for the night.
Like a beeline, I went straight for the shrimp. Seafood at the dining hall? It simply called my name. Wanting to take advantage of this rarity, I asked for an extra helping — my measly three shrimp turned into four.
The vegan station never frequented many visitors — we weren’t in LA anyways. A plethora of bowls lined the table and held what was labeled to be tofu poke. Having the luxury of choice, I embodied my Korean grandmother and carefully scanned each bowl eyeing which had the best selection.
Now the real challenge came: the wok and gluten-free stations. Standing in lines. Patience. Something I was all too familiar with at BU dining halls. But I was trained. I had traversed the ramen station at Marciano, survived the golden salmon nights hosted at West. I learned, all the best food comes with a wait.
Still, 10 minutes felt like an hour. But I came out successful. A shining star. A Loco Moco in my left hand and a bowl of crispy garlic chicken in another. Arms full, I was ready to feast.
For appetizers, I started with the shrimp. A light choice to entice the palette and start the decadent meal at hand. Its buttery coating lured me in, making me yearn for a first bite. To my surprise, the shrimp wasn’t rubbery or overcooked, but rather juicy and still bouncy in texture. For the dining hall, a solid 10/10.
Keeping things light, I turned to the tofu poke. Specks of seaweed salad were layered throughout the mixture, giving the tofu an off-putting light green hue. The mixture’s texture was alluring, soft from the tofu and a crunch from the seaweed salad. Its taste? Refreshing. Each cold spoonful gave a harmony of sweet and nutty balance. I felt a sense of pride in my discovery, students were wrong to shuffle past this delicacy.
Now, on to the main course: Loco Moco and Crispy Garlic Chicken.
I had tasted chicken from the wok station before, and knew all too well the flavors of the medlies of “orange chickens” were renamed on occasion to portray a supposed “change in menu.” But tonight, the chicken indeed was different. Its shell was a darker brown hue and was coated in flecks of chili flakes. The chicken got a makeover. A spectacular one at that. Its taste enticed my palette, leaving a tingle at the back of my throat. Notes of honey and soy sauce, complemented with rice, this was a dining hall masterpiece.
Finally, the Loco Moco. A classic Hawaiian dish featuring white rice topped with gravy, a hamburger steak, and fried egg. I mean what is there not to love? I had tasted the dish years before, on my family trip to Hawaii, being enlightened by the savory umami of the gravy and the crispy edges of the fried egg. Would this recreation live up to the hype?
Was that a warm breeze passing my ear? Palm trees in sight? Each decadent bite and suddenly, I was again on the ocean sides of Hawaii.
With plates on plates on plates stacked high, I had ended my journey for the night. To the Warren dining hall? It was a pleasure to dine here for the night. To BU Hawaiian Cultural Association? Hawaiian food reigns supreme.