Eva J's replacement to offer East Asian fare

The new dining option, Sabai, will be similar to Baja Grill.
Eva J's is located on the ground floor of Johnston Hall. Eva J's will be converted into Sabai, an East Asian takeout-style restaurant run similarly to Baja Grill, this fall.

Effective in fall 2011, Eva J's will be converted into Sabai, an a la carte, Baja Grill-style dining location that will focus on Southeast Asian cuisine.

Students who frequented Eva J's during the fall semester might have noticed the dining hall frequently offered a new variety of East Asian dishes.

This experimental offering of new dishes is part of the informally dubbed "Sabai Project," which focuses on testing potential dishes at Eva J's, Campus Dining Services Executive Chef Eric Cartwright said.

"Most recently we've worked on the Sabai Project, which features food sampling and discussing the idea of converting Eva J's into this kind of concept," Cartwright said. "The feedback we've gotten from students has been very positive."

CDS spokesman Andrew Lough said one of the reasons for the change was to offer more variety among the three closely located Rollins, Plaza 900 and Eva J's dining halls.

"On this part of campus, where you have Plaza 900, Rollins and Eva J's all concentrated here, it makes sense to have a lot of dining options," Lough said. "One of the things we knew we would like to consider in the future is diversifying a little bit more."

Eva J's will shift its focus from traditional dining hall fare and offer freshly-prepared, customizable East Asian cuisine, Cartwright said.

"All the food will either be prepared or assembled right when it's ordered," Cartwright said. "It's not just a scooped-out-of-a-pot-and-put-on-a-plate kind of thing. It's very customizable, which I think is something we know students really enjoy."

Food choices that were offered during the fall semester included a firecracker pork bowl, a Vietnamese noodle bowl called pho, a Thai chicken curry dish and a banh mi, a small Vietnamese sub, CDS director Julaine Kiehn said.

"We actually started last summer with two interns that did some work testing new food items like a banh mi sandwich," Kiehn said. "Then, this fall, the senior dietetic students worked with it more to develop more products, and then they actually tested with about 20 or more students."

Lough said the design of the facility, the previous offering of fresh stir-fry and the positive reception of the dishes led to the decision to use Eva J's dining hall to house the new Sabai.

"There were a lot of factors that went into play, but it just seemed like they all just pointed toward Eva J's," Lough said.

Cartwright said of all the factors that went into deciding to change Eva J's dining hall into Sabai, it ultimately came down to fulfilling the requests of students.

"I would say absolutely that the number one thing we want to pay attention to is what our students want," Cartwright said.

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