Tonight, I went back to the 40 to grab dinner with some friends. We all know what that means: I got to return to my “childhood stomping grounds,” otherwise known as Bear’s Den. Some unknowing parents call it “The Bear’s Den,” but it is really just Bear’s Den. Since mainly underclassmen live on the South 40 , it was a treat for me to stop by, because I love the food here. Washington University has been named the #1 university in the country for food lovers, and I can see why. In the coming months, I’ll do my best to do justice to the culinary magic that is WUSTL. Tonight, we start with the stir fry station at Bear’s Den.
For picky eaters like myself, the stir fry station is heaven. It all starts when you pick out whatever vegetables you want. They usually have broccoli, carrots, eggs, mushrooms, spinach, lettuce, baby corn, peppers, water chestnut, beans, and sometimes squash. Then, once you get your vegetables and optionally add fresh garlic or ginger, things get complicated.
Next, you’ll fill out a ticket. This is my favorite part, because the possibilities seem endless. As you can see from my ticket below, you’ve got 6 protein options, 5 protein options, and 8 sauces. If I wasn’t so in love with the current dish I get, I could probably try something new every time.
While the food is great, I can’t brag enough about the staff here. I’d say some of my best memories in Bear’s Den happened as I was waiting in line, talking to and joking around with the cooks. Whether they’re listening to 80s rap and dancing as they cook, or just small-talking with the students, the cooks go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. I’ll never forget the night I met Netta during my freshman year. I came to the station as it was closing, starving after working on a project all night. I was the last one to get stir fry that night, and thanks to my tardiness, Netta and I became friends. She’s the best. If you’re at the stir fry station, make sure you say hey, and say Henry sent you.
Now, without further ado, the most important part: tricks of the trade. When you get stir fry, don’t be afraid to ask for something if you want it. I’m an odd eater, and often ask for no starch, and sometimes extra starch. They’ll accommodate that. Make sure you write your name clearly on the ticket; nobody wants to be referred to “Herrney,” and no one wants to try to read your scribbles. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new combinations. I have yet to eat a stir-fry variation that I haven’t loved.
Sadly, I was far too hungry and excited to remember to take a picture of my food before I wolfed it down. Maybe next time!