Houston Market is going east.
Next week, Bon Appétit will open a new vendor in Houston Market called market noodles. The new Asian cuisine area will replace the existing Taqueria, which currently offers burritos, nachos and other Mexican-inspired cuisine.
When asked who prompted the change, Director of Retail Dining Operations for Bon Appétit Sky Strouth replied, “The student population did!”
He added that the Taqueria had seen declining “participation” recently. Moreover, noodles are now trending.
“If you follow the food news, you’ll see a lot of ramen bars popping up,” he said.
The menu will be divided into small plates, rice bowls and noodle bowls. In the latter two categories, the food ranges from Vietnamese beef pho to Indian curry, with additional influences from Chinese and Japanese noodle dishes. Strouth said the dishes will be “fairly authentic,” but the small plates are more experimental.
On one of these small plates, the panko fried soft egg, Marketing Manager Beth Bayrd said, “Everyone took a bite, and we were left silent.”
“It’s a different style of comfort food,” she added.
The food will be made with ingredients that are part of their Farm-to-Fork program. Countrytime Farms, which holds property just under 80 miles away, will supply ingredients for the vendor.
Asian cuisine is not unprecedented in Bon Appetit’s offerings. Stephen Scardina, the company’s resident district manager, said that the “very popular” Global Fusion at 1920 Commons added to the most recent decision to close down the Taqueria.
Wharton and College sophomore Chris Groskaufmanis has great expectations for the new store. “I’m not even on the meal plan anymore and I’d still go,” he said. “The [Taqueria] was more like a mediocre Chipotle, anyway.”
market noodles will not have all the same employees that were staffed at the Taqueria, but no employees will be displaced in the change. Instead, “people will get moved around,” Strouth said.
Despite the loss, Houston Market will still see some Mexican cuisine. The Hemispheres station, which features pre-made food, now offers burritos and the like to make up for the missing Taqueria.
Nursing sophomore Karena Taylor was not happy with the shift. “Those [Mexican cuisines in Hemispheres] are prepackaged, and it’s not the same quality. It’s not a good substitution,” she said.
“I liked the variety they offered at the Taqueria,” she added.
College freshman Julian Hernandez agreed. “Not a lot of places offer taquerias,” he said. “I think they should’ve kept it.”
He also pointed out that the Taqueria was the only place to consistently offer Mexican cuisine on the meal plan.
However, others were happy with the move.
College freshman Erica Louie said, “I’m excited. It’s convenient, and I love noodles.”
Despite divided student opinion, Bon Appetit is optimistic. “This is adventurous and forward-thinking,” Strouth said.