ANASTASIYA SEMYANNIKOVA / SAGAMORE STAFF
Only two minutes into lunch, an already-long line of students wrapped around the side of the restaurant, eager to try out the Lunar New Year takeover menu at the Tappan Green.
On Thursday, Feb. 17, the restaurant presented a new, limited-time menu centered around Lunar New Year. The culinary program partnered with the Asian Pacific American Club (APAC) to co-design the menu as well as get input from individual students.
Curriculum Coordinator of Career and Technology Education Britt Stevens organized the event and she and APAC leaders discussed the takeover for a while.
“The advisors for APAC reached out to us in December to ask if we could work together to do food for the Lunar New Year celebration,” Stevens said. “They were unable to sell food as they normally do at the festivities this year due to COVID-19.”
Junior Martha Bialek was one of several students who contributed a recipe to the restaurant’s menu. In Bialek’s case, it was her family’s dumpling recipe.
“I was thinking about how I could help out because it’s a really big deal that we’re actually doing something about Lunar New Year, so I thought, ‘how about we use the recipe that I use?’ Because I know it’s good and, since I am half Taiwanese, I would know more about it,” Bialek said.
If you did not get to try the Tappan Green’s Lunar New Year takeover menu, check out Sagamore’s opinions of all of the dishes. Now onto the food!
Char Sui or Vegetarian Fried Rice
Price – $5
The restaurant considerately provided both a vegetarian and meat option to students for the fried rice. The vegetarian option was a bit underwhelming with not enough textural elements to balance out the rice. However, the pork provided a great variation to an otherwise simple dish, elevating it to the next level.
Price – $4
The pancakes were incredibly crispy and came with a side of sauce. Although I would consider the portion too small for a whole lunch, they worked great as a side dish.
Steamed Pork Dumplings
Price – $5
Knowing that this is a family recipe made these dumpings a standout. They were comforting, homey and full of flavor.
Bulgogi-Style Beef Lettuce Wraps
Price – $7
This was by far the best dish offered at the Tappan Green. Not only was it filling, but it also had delicious flavors throughout. The beef packed a strong flavor but was nicely balanced with the well-cooked rice and fresh, crispy lettuce. While a little difficult to put together in the school cafeteria, assembling the wrap and filling was a fun way to start the meal.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Price – $4
The spring rolls were perfectly fried, with a crispy shell and soft interior. However, the soy sauce was the real star of the dish, adding a mild kick of ginger.
Overall, the food was well prepared and a considerate step above the normal cafeteria lunch. With relatively low prices and a well-thought-out menu, the restaurant did a great job in putting this together.
Stevens says that this is not the last takeover event that the culinary program will do.
“We’d love to do something similar in the future. We’re open to suggestions about how else we can partner with groups within the school to do similar work. Interested parties can come to find me to chat,” Stevens said.
Although it is too soon to see the impact this has had on the school community, the restaurant had very clear intentions while going through the organizing process.
“We wanted to create a new way to center the culture and community of our AAPI students and staff. We all need more of that,” Stevens said. “There have been so many troubling and traumatic events in the last few years for all of us, especially for people of color. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to educate ourselves about these issues and to be aware of systemic racism. It’s just that if we are always talking about trauma, it can start to feel like that is the whole story. It’s not.”