My first three semesters of college were marked by a distinct lack of sushi. I can remember four or five visits to local Asian buffets where I ate a few rolls here and there, but for the most part, I couldn’t take the time to go buy a sushi roll. College is busy, what with the exams, relationships and drama we all thought was over at high school graduation. It’s not feasible to run to the car, drive to a restaurant and have a sit down lunch in between classes. Thankfully, Joy Moore has redeemed my college experience by bringing Asia Garden’s legendary sushi rolls to Modero.
“Asia Garden approached Creative Dining and asked if they would be interested in serving sushi,” said Moore, an English professor and director of Barefoots Joe and Modero. “Afterwards, Creative Dining approached me and asked if I’d be interested, and I said, ‘Sure, let’s give it a try.’”
Sushi is something new at Union, and radically different than the mozzarella sticks or rhubarb muffin that the average student might snack on. Moore was purposeful when she agreed to try out the sushi in the Library’s coffee shop.
“With Modero, I wanted the food to be high-quality, fresh, and healthy, and to provide creative options that you might not easily find in town,” she said. “Sushi is different than our other offerings, but it fits those criteria. Asia Garden makes it daily and brings it to us, so it’s always fresh, and healthy.”
So far, the responses to sushi have been largely positive, both on social media, and in person.
“Sushi is a healthy meal that doesn’t feel too heavy at lunch,” Moore said. “It’s a trial run to see if it’s something that people want on campus.”
(Hint to everyone who enjoys sushi: tell the baristas that you love the sushi, and continue to buy one of the $7.75 lunches. For comparison, that’s $1.42 cheaper than a meal from Cobo on a 120-meal block.)
There are four options to choose from, all of them amazing. The “Philadelphia Roll” is stuffed with smoked salmon, avocado and cream cheese. The “Jackson Roll,” my personal favorite, is full of snow crab mix, crab stick (I am not 100% sure what that is, but it’s good), fish eggs and avocado. In addition, buying the Jackson Roll demonstrates your local pride, always a plus. Modero also serves two cooked rolls: California and Crunchy Crawfish. The former containing crab stick, cucumber, avocado and fish eggs, while the latter contains crunchy crawfish.
Sushi isn’t the only new thing that the campus coffee shops are offering, however. There’s a brand new set of cups, bottles and merchandise at both coffee shops.
“We have stainless steel enamel coated camp cups [$10] in Barefoots,” said Levi Hartsfield, the coffee roaster for Modero and Barefoots and 2016 graduate.
The cups have a fox and campfire design created by Kath Nash, who graduated from Union as an art major in 2014.
“We wanted a mug that people could take outdoors without worrying whether it would break,” Moore said.
There are also 27-ounce water bottles ($22) with the Modero logo, made by MiiR, a company dedicated to doing good in the world.
“Any drinkware you buy has a code associated with it,” Moore said. “If you buy one of these items from us, we partner with MiiR, and the profits go towards clean water projects.”
In addition to these bottles, there are also double-walled vacuum insulated coffee cups with lids ($22), and plain stainless steel cups ($12.50).
“All of MiiR’s drinkware is made with stainless steel that is designed to not hold odor or taste,” Hartsfield said. “They’re made from a higher grade of stainless steel that doesn’t hold the coffee oil smell. We got these cups because they look fantastic, and they’re extremely high quality. To be able to get a cup with that aesthetic and cool design for $22 is really amazing.”
If you’re worried about spending too much money on sushi, water bottles or coffee mugs, both coffee shops are still operating with a punch card system: Buy 10 drinks, get one free.
“Don’t forget about the dollar coffee thing as well,” said Gretchen Foels, junior music major, as I typed this piece at the bar in Modero. She was referencing the incredible fact that anyone can bring in a (reasonably-sized) personal coffee mug, and fill it for one measly dollar. Gretchen followed this remark with “Clark, don’t be an idiot” when I threatened to quote her.
Look. I know you’re busy. You’ve got that exam next week, and that boy/girl keeps making eyes (or worse yet, not making eyes), but take a break from the craziness of college, and stop by Modero or Barefoots. Try a sushi roll, buy a coffee mug and save the environment, all with one purchase. While you’re there, thank Joy Moore for making your college experience just a little bit better.