With a barrage of new dorm rooms, classes and professors, starting a new year of college always takes some adjusting. But another change to life at AU has revealed itself: a new restaurant serving up Asian favorites is open on campus.

Promising to bring fresh, invigorating flavors to the Mary Graydon Center, Paper Lantern has opened its shutters to a curious student body.

What's on the menu? When is it open? And will fans of the former Pom & Honey joint be satisfied?

Here is everything you need to know about Paper Lantern.

Spice is nice

Elliott Parrish

Paper Lantern is anything but bland.

I visited the novel campus eatery just a week after it opened, and found a menu illuminated with carryout specialties--and elevated by spice.

Vegetarians and carnivores alike will have plenty to enjoy here; the menu ranges from teriyaki chicken and Lo Mein to fried dumplings and Kung Pao cauliflower. Across the board, zesty seasoning is liberally and expertly applied.

I tried the orange tofu first, which comes with steamed broccoli and a heaping mound of white rice. Anyone who thinks of tofu as flavorless has never tasted this. Crispy, firm fried tofu cubes are tossed in a wok of scalding, crimson hot peppers. The broccoli is kissed by a note of candied orange peel just sweet enough to break through the inferno of heat. My eyes watered, my face flushed, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

If variety is the spice of life, Paper Lantern is the liveliest--and surely the spiciest--dining option on campus.

Magnificent Lo Main

Elliott Parrish

For those who find extreme spice less than preferable, Paper Lantern still pleases. Namely, the teriyaki beef served over lo main is especially ideal.

Diced celery, onions and yellow bell peppers are roasted and tossed with steak flank. Crisp shredded carrots lend lightness and levity in between protein and carbs. A surprisingly mild, thick teriyaki sauce complements the egg noodles brilliantly.

The vibrant hues and textures of this dish speak to Paper Lantern's pursuit of culinary conviviality. This restaurant will remain compelling long after the recently opened institution's novelty wears off.

Go big or go home

Elliott Parrish

Economically-minded students will appreciate that meal swipe portions at Paper Lantern are much more generous than they ever were at its Mediterranean predecessor. But not everything is changed; as was the case at Pom & Honey, ingredients often run out fast. Word to the wise: have a second entree choice in mind while waiting in line so as not cause a holdup at the checkout.

This is a problem frustratingly common to restaurants in the Mary Graydon Center; the establishments routinely sell out of some of their most popular dishes by midday. The first time I visited Paper Lantern, the cauliflower was gone. The second time, no Kung Pao tofu. The third: no Lo Mein. It's difficult to order when doing so is a guessing game of what might or might not be in stock. I try my best to avoid the uncontrolled chaos of Einstein Bagel for this same reason.

On the bright side, Paper Lantern is open from noon to seven every day. Hurried scholars take note: picking up lunch here is usually much faster than waiting in line at the Bridge, Einstein, or Wonk, er, True Burger. (Something tells me the old name will stick.)

The Lantern is just one part of a huge mid-summer makeover at AU Dining. As Wonk Burger reidentifies as True Burger, sushi rolls into Kirwin and a new pizza oven fires up where Create used to be, it's tough to keep up with all the changes. SpoonU will review the other newbies on campus as soon as they open.