Nassau Bagel is now "Nassau Bagel and Sushi." The Greek favorite Zorba's Grille will soon replace Ebenezer's Coffee across from Nassau Hall. Ajihei's owner plans to open a Japanese take out restaurant near Thai Village. The cuisine in Princeton seems to be slowly catching up to the ethnic diversity that the University boasts.
But the University's diversity may not be the determining factor in the proliferation of ethnic cuisine in Princeton during the last five to seven years.
Chris Stevens, who has owned Indian restaurants in the area for 10 years, said people in general are "more educated about food," taking more cooking classes and watching relevant television programs.
This education inspires people to experiment with food from many different traditions, Stevens said. Thai Village, Waikiki and Stevens' own Mezzaluna are just three restaurants to add new spices to Princeton in the past six years.
"There seems to be a need for them," Stevens said. "I'd say it's a combination of the needs of students and residents."
Newer owners of ethnic restaurants, however, seem to be drawn to Princeton for its friendly neighborhood and suburban charm.
Charles Choi bought Nassau Bagel and opened an adjacent sushi restaurant in September. A native of Korea, Choi has been preparing sushi for 25 years but has never owned a restaurant before Nassau Bagel and Sushi. He wanted to come to Princeton rather than stay in Greenwich Village.
"Here is better than [New York City]," he said. "People here are very genteel."
Koji Kitamura, who opened the Japanese deli and restaurant Ajihei on Chambers Street three years ago, also prefers Princeton to New York, where he worked at a Japanese Hotel.
"I don't want my kids to grow up in a city," he said. Kitamura also noted that living expenses in Princeton are more "reasonable" than in Bergen County.
But while students can now go to Nassau Street for anything from tandoori chicken to fish and chips, those who grew up on this cuisine do not always find it authentic.
Yee Wai Chong '03, an international student from Hong Kong who often eats out, finds the Chinese food in Princeton significantly different from native cuisine.
"The best restaurant here is average in Hong Kong," he said.
Jamie Chan '03, a Chinese-American, also finds certain Chinese restaurants in Princeton below standard, but notes that the upper-class town might not receive an authentic Chinese restaurant so well.
"It's hard for a Chinese restaurant to survive here," she said. "You go to Hong Kong and the real food is in the hole-in-the-wall places." People in Princeton, she observes, would "never want to go to the back of a kitchen."
But The Fortune City on Nassau Street does have "pretty authentic" Taiwanese food, said Chan, who was surprised to find such offerings as tapioca pearl tea outside of her home state of California.
"People there are more receptive to diverse foods," she said.
Savraj Singh Dhanjal '03 prefers his mother's North Indian Punjabi cooking to the Indian cuisine in town but does enjoy Kalluri Corner and Masala Grill. In his four years at the University he has noticed new ethnic restaurants open, and welcomes new additions.
"There's always room for more diversity," he said. "The more ethnic food the better. It always adds some flavor to the area."
Not everyone is so happy about the increasing number of ethnic restaurants, however. Jim Firestone, not related to the benefactors of Firestone Library, is most concerned about new restaurants' domination of parking spaces.
"It's nice to have other forms of food, but it'd be nicer to have more parking," Firestone said.