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Feast at Rieber pop-ups cook up anticipation for dining hall reopening

Students wait in line for Feast at Rieber. The dining hall is set to reopen for daily dinner service by the UCLA Dining team starting Monday. (Constanza Montemayor/Daily Bruin)

By Constanza Montemayor

Oct. 21, 2021 4:11 p.m.

Feast at Rieber is holding pop-up food events in anticipation of its reopening for regular dinner service Monday.

The Feast dining hall held a one-night only special dining event Oct. 14 to launch The Spice Kitchen at Feast, a platform created by UCLA Dining to offer students a ninth dining option on the Hill while the university continues to navigate staffing shortages, according to an emailed statement from UCLA Dining. Feast at Rieber is hosting another pop-up, which began Monday and will continue through Friday from 5 to 11 p.m.

On Oct. 14, the dining hall offered students a choice between braised pork belly and spiced impossible meat to eat over knife-shaved Chinese noodles, five-spice tofu, pickled daikon and a seasoned boiled egg, with many toppings also available, such as bean sprouts, kimchi and edamame, according to the UCLA Dining website.

The first event also featured Chuan “Michael” Chang, a food service manager at UCLA who helped develop a Japanese kaiseki menu for Singapore Airlines and worked with UCLA Dining to make a Chinese and Japanese menu for UCLA residential dining, according to the statement from UCLA Dining.

“We are hopeful that we can bring more local LA chefs and vendors to introduce students to more culinary delights from the community while creatively servicing students as we continue to navigate our labor shortages,” UCLA Dining said in the statement.

The events are part of UCLA Dining’s attempts to find solutions to a labor shortage that has left some dining halls still closed or with limited operations.

Since the start of fall quarter, the staffing shortage has also led to long wait times for students in dining halls. The quarter began with Feast at Rieber, Bruin Café and Café 1919 closed, and Café 1919 has yet to reopen. Some dining staff have also said they felt strained by the large crowds of students in a limited number of dining halls.

In an attempt to lessen long lines in dining halls, UCLA Housing offered students the option to exchange a meal swipe for a voucher to be used at an ASUCLA eatery or one of the food trucks the university has invited to the Hill.

[Related: Students face long lines, wait times at dining halls amid staffing shortage]

“Once our staffing level is strong enough to support a fourth all-you-care-to-eat dining operation, which FEAST at Rieber traditionally is, we will do so,” UCLA Dining added in the statement. “In the meantime, we are continuously striving for ways to bring quality cuisine options for our residents to enjoy.”

The latest weeklong series of events features Hanchic, a modern Korean restaurant in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, and their team. The events also feature guest chef Kyungbin “Justin” Min, who helped establish the restaurant and leads the team. Hanchic blends French techniques with Korean flavors, according to the UCLA Dining Services site.

UCLA Dining said Feast at Rieber plans to reopen for daily dinner operations run by the UCLA Dining team starting Monday from 5 to 8 p.m.

Students said they were excited to try the Feast dining hall and have enjoyed the food so far.

First-year human biology and society student Nikki Ma said she had heard many good reviews of the dining hall and decided to try it when it became an option.

“A lot of people really raved about it, and so that’s why we waited an hour to try it, but it’s pretty good,” Ma said. “I like it. It’s very close to home.”

Caroline Ives, a first-year applied mathematics student, said she noticed the first pop-up event on the UCLA Dining website and came to see the special event.

“It’s really good; I wish they had it open more often,” Ives said. “It’s nice to have more options.”

The pop-up event has made her more excited for Feast at Rieber’s reopening, and she hopes the opening of more dining halls will shorten lines in other places, Ives added.

Amy Lov, a first-year human biology and society student, said she had seen the event advertised by UCLA Housing on Instagram and decided to attend.

Lov expects the line to get in will probably be long for a while once the dining hall reopens for regular dining, but she looks forward to the reopening, she added.

“I’ll probably go here really often,” Lov said. “It’s a lot better than I expected.”

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Constanza Montemayor | Features and student life editor
Montemayor is currently the 2020-2021 features and student life editor. She was previously a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a second-year global studies student at UCLA.
Montemayor is currently the 2020-2021 features and student life editor. She was previously a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a second-year global studies student at UCLA.
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