Asian Street Food Comes to Campus

By Travis Gendron | Published

Note: this is a first-person review, not a news story.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Michigan Tech culinary scene, you’ve probably noticed the food cart surrounded by a mob of people that mysteriously appears on campus at lunchtime each Wednesday outside of the Memorial Union. Or perhaps you’ve caught wind of the delectable aroma of spices that waft from it.

It turns out that this mystery cart is part of Khana Khazana’s Street Food program, which serves up international dishes each Wednesday throughout the summer. A collaborative effort of international students and Dining Services, Khana Khazana (food treasure) brings the flavors of world cuisine to Michigan Tech all year. International students whip up traditional dishes from their home nations.

During the academic year you’ll find Khana Khazana meals served in the MUB Food Court at lunch every Friday, but for the summer, the international students took their cooking outside. You can find them at their street cart from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Wednesday—weather permitting, of course.  If raindrops fall, Street Food moves into the MUB.

Recently we followed the spicy odors and the crowds to see what all the excitement is about. Walking up to cart, we were greeted by the sights and smells of three traditional Korean dishes. Mixed Korean noodles with a choice of meat or veggies, meat or veggies with chili sauce, and a kim chi dish were all on the menu. Though choosing was a struggle, we eventually went with the mixed Korean noodles with chicken.

All of the staples of a great meal were there: juicy chicken, a tender onion, broccoli, and eggplant, and rice noodles all mixed with a savory sauce and resting on a fluffy bed of steamed white rice. The dish was then dusted liberally with chili powder to get the taste buds fired up like a Finnish sauna.

For those who are beading up just thinking about eating such a dish, don’t fret.   You have a choice whether or not you want to ignite your mouth. Tell them spicy, and they’ll give you spicy—really spicy. Think a red rain of chili powder coating your taste buds. And your throat. And your stomach. The flavor will burn, literally. Or, you can play it a little safer and ask for mild. Think medium salsa with a bit more kick.

Even though the cart is generally in the midst of a swarm of ravenous patrons, you actually get your global cuisine quite quickly. In fact, we waited only a couple of minutes to get our tasty—and filling—noodles.  

On another Wednesday, Street Food featured delicacies from Thailand: pad Thai, a traditional noodle dish;   stir-fried basil with chicken, beef or mushrooms; and Thai fried rice.

What’s better than delicious Korean or Thai food? Delicious Korean food that you don’t have to cook. What’s even better than that? Fast delicious Korean food that you don’t have to cook. This makes the Street Food cart a perfect place to grab lunch on a Wednesday as you’re walking to your next class or meeting.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.