What’s that Place Between Subway and UPS?
All that glitters is not gold… however, it might be pyrite, which is pretty cool as well. There’s an Asian eatery under TDR and while the food isn’t the golden ticket of on-campus food, it still shines and shows the true potential of what on-campus food should and ought to be.
Disclaimer: Because I’m not entirely sure what the name of the Asian place under MGC is, I’ll be referring to it as AF (Asian Flavors).
I will never forget my first memories walking into AF, or whatever the name of that place is, between the UPS store and Subway. Roughly one month ago, I violently woke up from my power nap questioning how much reading I had to finish for one of my SIS classes. I naturally assumed that it was a lot, so I decided that, between my midday classes, I would grab lunch and finish my readings. While walking along the pathway between the freshman dorms and MGC, an overwhelming craving for Asian food dominated my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about tasty Chinatown ramen or xiaolongbao, neither of which were an option for me. Alas, eating on campus was unavoidable.
At this moment, a moment that shall not fade in my memory, a faint memory of an Asian place under MGC made its way toward the front of my brain. A plague must have spread across my body because I had an unrelenting motivation to eat at AF. As I walked closer and closer towards AF, I thought about how my body would react to putting this food in system. We’ve all had rough experiences with food on campus regardless of where we’ve gotten it, and trying a new on campus place did not negate the fear of what the food might do to my body *cough, cough* taking imodium.
The place looked almost identical to the way I remembered it all those times I passed by on my way to the gym: empty, closed, and dark. While walking around its entrance , I realized that the weird signs laying across the windows did a fine job blocking sunlight from entering the place. This worried me because I wear glasses when doing dense reading and without sufficient lighting, my eyes become strained. Another important realization crossed my mind while thinking about the poor lighting: this place is almost never open. Without a sign indicating it hours of operation, I was left to estimate that its opening hours range from 11am-4pm, which hardly fits any students’ schedules because everyone either has class or eats in MGC or surrounding areas along the quad. Lucky for me, I arrived during its short opening period, assuring myself that I would eat whatever they served.
Entering AF almost felt wrong. The lack of people there, especially during the lunch hour, warranted a few questions. Is the food bad? Why is the place closed even though I just opened their door? Where are the people behind the counter? There were no people behind the counter when I entered, only furthering my belief that the place was either closed or about to close. Upon closer inspection of the food, I realized the place couldn’t have been closed.
I quickly ordered a plate of lo mein, green beans, and what I can only assume was a variant of orange chicken. Overall, the plate looked colorful, but deceiving. It looked too good for a place that allows customers to see the raw meat from the counter, but I kept an open mind because both hungry and curious. I tried the lo mein first and much to my surprise, it wasn’t terrible. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything write home about, but I could imagine myself eating it if I truly didn’t feel like eating any other on campus option. I then tried the green beans, which were cooked with a significant amount of onions, but this didn’t upset me. After one bite, the verdict was clear. They were undercooked. Clearly, they needed more time, so I figured it wasn’t worth the time to eat the rest. Finally, I moved on to the orange chicken.
Before eating the orange chicken, it’s important to note the significance of orange chicken in my diet. Since coming to D.C., I’ve been having serious orange chicken withdrawals, specifically Panda Express orange chicken. In fact, on my birthday I traveled by myself to L'Enfant Plaza for Panda Express orange chicken, which I might say, was completely worth it. My expectations for this orange chicken were high, and while the chicken didn’t even come close to living up to these expectations, I was surprised by how adequate it was. They were definitely overcooked, but like the lo mein, it was something that I would probably eat again if I ever had some random craving for it.
While this isn’t your conventional #FoodMove, I think students should give this place a try because some students, like myself, might be genuinely surprised by the food. By no means is the food as good as other places on campus place, but I see great potential for the eatery. Maybe one day the place will actually have a recognizable name and post their hours of operation instead of operating like an underground frat. All this would be fascinating, but their underground status is what makes the place kind of interesting. While the Dav or Starbucks might always have a long line, this place will always remain uncrowded and serve mediocre food that won’t kill… if you enter at the right hours.