Koi owner Sandy Chen said she remembers needing affordable meals while studying at the University of Illinois at Chicago. So when her chef suggested putting together a low-cost menu for North West students, she agreed.
“The chef is focusing more on…price to be more affordable for students,” she said. “He put out some of the very popular items (on the menu) that the students really love…so I was so proud to see him selling those items and so many more.”
Koi is a Chinese restaurant located in the heart of downtown Evanston that has been in business since 2004, Chen said. Dinner menu entrees range from $14 to $42 per course, which has discouraged students like McCormick junior Erin Bryan from trying the restaurant.However, the menu now also serves $9.99 entrees. at all levels for dishes like Sesame Chicken and Thai Chicken Noodles. It also includes $4.99 entrees and $2.99 soups and salads. Bryan visited Koi after hearing about the menu in the Class of 2024 group chat, she said, and felt that an entree from the student menu was very filling.
“My friend had the Chicken Pad Thai, and I tried,” she said. “It was awesome, so that’s going to be my next order.”
Kyle Lucki, Koi Operations Manager oversees the floor during service hours and says he’s noticed an influx of students since they introduced the menu in mid-September.
Lucki said the dishes are light and easy to prepare and suitable for large groups.
“Standard Chinese and Japanese dishes are generally traditional and family style,” he said. “So it works really well…when you’re seated with four or five people and you can order four or five of these plates to share.”
Like many people on campus, Bryan said she’s been trying to cut back on spending on restaurant food, investing in meals at home instead. For her, home-cooked meals are small and usually eaten with friends, which she says Koi’s menu caters perfectly.
Lucki said the student menu definitely put the restaurant ahead of the competition.
“It was a good opportunity to jump above this new crowd (of incoming students) becoming a more dominant place than other restaurants in terms of the median prices they can afford,” he said. he declares.
While the new student-friendly menu is aimed at those who attend NU, Chen said students from other schools in the area have also come to Evanston to order some.
Bryan said she thinks other businesses in the area should follow Koi’s lead.
“It would be really beneficial for restaurants in Evanston and the student body if these types of student menus and more student discounts were offered by more restaurants in the area,” she said. “There are a lot of places here where I’ve seen the menu and…I’d like to try something, but the cost is just too high for a college student.”
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