Sabai Offers New, Unique Dining Experience for Students

Students and Campus Dining employees are steadily responding to the new dining location Sabai, which, beginning this school year, replaced Eva J’s.

Located on the ground floor of Johnston Hall, Sabai trades Eva J’s familiar dining hall experience for an Asian-influenced take out.

“Our foods here at Sabai come from the Southeast Asian region so you’ll see foods from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnamese influence,” Marketing Manager Michael Wuest said.

Sabai tries to incorporate an atmosphere that relates to the meaning behind the word.

“Sabai is Thai for comfortable places,” Wuest said. “That’s kind of what we do with the decor here, it’s very comfortable, it’s bamboo, it’s a warm feeling environment.”

Carter Lawson, Assistant Manager of Sabai, has worked with Campus Dining Services for three years and in hospitality for 15 years total. He keeps track of Sabai’s progress and remains innovative toward ideas for its growth.

“We’re trying to use very authentic ingredients such as lemon grass, kimchi, some other Asian influence ingredients, as well as making sure it’s fresh [and] vibrant,” Lawson said. “We try to do everything as fresh as possible. Nothing comes in frozen or pre-packaged so we make it all on sight.”

The menu at Sabai may not seem diverse at a glance, but specific items reign popular among students.

“We have four dishes that are pretty popular here at Sabai,” Wuest said. “One being the Firecracker Pork Bowl. We also have a chicken curry that’s very popular, as well as our Fried Rice Bowl, both the chicken and the beef.”

Sabai’s items are priced at portions of a meal (1.00). The menu also informs the customer of the dollar amount that every item is worth. Employees are looking to attract more customers as business continues. Wuest said that so far Sabai serves between 500-600 students a day.

Sophomore Elana Caratachea is living in Johnston Hall for a second year, but she just began work as an employee at Sabai this semester.

“I feel Sabai is not as busy as Eva J’s was,” Caratachea said. “But Eva J’s had a lot more to offer, it had more variety.”

Lawson and other staff members are aware of the potential that Sabai can reach.

“We’re obviously looking to get more people to come in and try us out and see things,” Lawson said. “But so far we’ve had great feedback from different groups on campus and people that have come to visit so far.”

Caratachea said she thinks that most of the changes the dining hall went under to create Sabai are easily unnoticed by freshman.

“The older kids are all really upset that Eva J’s is gone,” Caratachea said. “I’m really upset that Eva J’s is gone. If people know the right things to order, they enjoy it.”

Sabai is proud of their unique menu and how it differs from other dining locations that students may be all too familiar with.

“Currently campus dining has 20 locations around campus, but Sabai is our own specific residential dining a la carte take out location,” Wuest said.

Junior Aaron Timma acknowledges the difference in taste and diversity of the menu.

“It’s definitely not as big as a selection, but it’s definitely better quality food, and I prefer that more,” Timma said.

– Sydne Hayman
23 News
Staff Writer