UCLA, world-renowned for its dining services, is considered to be the No. 1 public university for dining in the United States. This designation comes from the variety of cuisines offered across four dining halls and seven takeout spots – one of these locations being FEAST at Rieber.
FEAST used to regularly feature dishes across eight (and sometimes fusion) cuisines – China, Hawaii, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Currently, FEAST serves as a feature for Asian cuisine across Los Angeles, highlighting one to two restaurants per week, such as Kogi BBQ, 8E8 Thai Street Food and Dina’s Dumplings.
Before FEAST occupied its spot adjacent to Rieber Hall in 2012, there was a different Rieber dining facility. It was underused and had been receiving low satisfaction scores for a long time, due to its aged appearance and inconvenient location away from the core of campus. The primary goal of FEAST was to increase the number of students dining at Rieber, as other dining halls had become overcrowded.
The inspiration for FEAST came from UCLA’s large representation of Asian and Pacific Islander students, and the concept was designed to bring back “memories of home-cooked meals, family gatherings, and special celebrations.” This was not a mission taken lightly by UCLA Dining Services. They built a team dedicated to researching, developing, and adapting authentic and fusion Asian recipes, such as bhindi okra curry bao, yakisoba noodle sandwiches and thai pandan chiffon cake.
After premiering, the dining hall proved to be a massive success, accomplishing its initial goals of increasing patron counts by renovating both the menu and interior design. FEAST quickly climbed the ranks of students’ favorite dining locations on the Hill because of its cuisine that isn’t commonly found in other dining halls.
That is until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. FEAST closed its doors when the university moved all its operations online in March 2020, and they didn’t reopen until Oct. 18, 2021 with a pop-up event hosted by Hanchic, a beloved restaurant based in Koreatown. Since then, FEAST is the only dining hall that has not reopened with a regular menu, instead serving only one to three meal options from featured restaurants. These meals are currently only available for the dinner and extended dinner meal periods during weekdays on the Hill.
Traditional fourth-year students are the only students still at the university that can speak to the glory days of FEAST and its multitude of food options. Students currently on the Hill enjoy FEAST as more of a takeout dining option than as a dining hall, and most are unaware of its history. They experience Asian cuisine on the Hill as a temporary commodity, rather than as a cornerstone of the UCLA dining experience.
The question remains: will FEAST ever return to its former glory?