If you haven’t been to Junzi Kitchen yet, you’re missing out. The fast casual Northern Chinese noodle bowls and bings offered during the day have us wasting our dining hall swipes, but on Saturday nights between 10:30 pm and 1:00 am Chef Lucas and his team serve Night Lunch. These dishes are full of flavor: greasy enough to cut through any drunken stupor, and so cheap you can order them all without breaking the bank.
Why do they call their late night service Night Lunch? Night lunch is a historical term for wagons that used to sell food like hot dogs, burgers and coffee at night all over New England. Their menu is beautifully drawn every week by Ming, Junzi’s designer.
Here’s a sampling of what we Spoonies had one fateful Saturday night. The food was so good that we tried everything on the menu. Needless to say, our tastebuds (and stomachs) were happy campers.
First, we tried the two types of dumplings: chicken and beef. Both come six to an order and have thin, delicate skins with just enough bite. They’re topped with a soy based sauce and, if you opt for it, a generous smattering of cilantro.
The chicken filling is light and herbaceous while the beef is a bit heartier. You can’t go wrong with either, and at just $5.00 a serving, you might as well try both. Between the generous amount of sauce and the juicy interior, these dumplings can make a bit of a (glorious) mess, so keep the napkins on hand.
Next up was the jian bing – a crepe-like wrap made of bean flour and egg, stuffed with a secret bean sauce, cilantro, scallions, deep fried chun bing wraps and, if you opt for it, the most amazing pork you will ever taste.
Jian bing is a popular street food in Beijing, usually served for breakfast or late at night from carts outside office buildings or clubs. It’s a food clearly designed for everyone and is one of the most missed foods among experts.
In the making of this beautiful bing, batter is first spread on the flattop with what looks like a zen garden tool, and then an egg is cracked on top and mixed in.
Next comes the bean spread and other toppings. If you aren’t a vegetarian, adding the pork for $2.00 is definitely the way to go. It is tender, flavorful and plentiful, making the snack into a full meal.
Be forewarned, even the mild version has a kick to it, but that might be exactly what you need at whatever time of night you stumble in for your fix.
No matter the time of day or night, every meal needs a dessert! At Junzi night lunch you can get a bubble waffle filled with Nutella or locally made Ashley’s ice cream. If you don’t know what a bubble waffle is, you must not be following the right people on Instagram because they are super trendy right now.
The texture of the bubble waffle allows for the optimal ratio of crunchy, caramelized bites with soft interior. We filled ours with butterscotch ice cream, which heightened the slightly malted flavor of the waffle batter.
So What Are You Waiting For?
You can’t go wrong at Junzi Kitchen, no matter the time of day or night, but come Saturday night when you need a literal midnight snack – grab some friends and on walk over to experience the comforting, authentic goodness that is Night Lunch.
To make things better, the atmosphere is at once comfortable and exciting, marinated with pulsing music and the amiable chatter of adventurous college students enjoying Beijing street food right here in New Haven.
Finally, everything you see in this article cost only $23.00, and generously served four. Whether its a dumpling or a bubble waffle you’re craving, stop by Junzi late night for something inventive and tasty and you can’t go wrong.