Junzi is jamming

Junzi Kitchen, MoHi’s latest spot for fast casual food, had a soft opening last week. We sent Senior Staffer Sarah Dahl to check out Junzi’s Northern Chinese cuisine. The restaurant is having its official grand opening today (Monday), and also opened a New Haven location near Yale’s campus in October, 2015 (Columbia’s is obviously better!).

I’ve been eyeing Junzi’s windows all semester, waiting eagerly for it to open – and it didn’t disappoint. Junzi Kitchen offers a unique spin on fast casual dining. Different from other campus spots such as Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, or the Westside salad bar; Junzi serves up make-your-own noodle and bing dishes in Northern Chinese style. Bing is a type of wheat dough unique to Northern China, where it’s difficult to grow rice. Bing noodles and rolls (chun bing) are the bedrock of traditional food in Northern China, where Junzi’s founders are from.

Typical Chinese food in New York, and around the US in general, includes rice, different from the bing-only Northern Chinese style. Northern Chinese food also tends to be less spicy and somewhat lighter, according to several members of Junzi’s PR team with whom I spoke.

Going down the line at Junzi is kind of like ordering a Sweetgreen salad, except much more exciting and much less overwhelming. You can choose chun bings (1 roll for $7.81, 2 rolls for $12.81) or noodle bowls for a base ($11.48), in either white or whole wheat dough. Noodles come in thin and wide variety. You then choose a protein/main: chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or mushrooms. Next, you choose vegetables: kale, cucumber, bean sprouts, matchstick potatoes, pickled daikon, summer squash, garlic chives, celery. Finally, you choose from a variety of garnishes and sauces. If you’re too lazy or uninspired to create your own meal (like I was), you can try one of the chef-recommended specialties.

I ordered furu tofu and tofu and mushroom knife (wide) noodles, both of which were very good. I liked the mushroom dish better because it had a richer flavor. I’d recommend the knife noodles for both. I also had vitasoy milk to accompany our meal, which I was stoked on. Vitasoy is the best soy milk ever, and hard to find (even M2M is spotty). Junzi also offers other drinks, such as tea and foxon park soda.

Inside, there’s ample seating, but you can also take things to go. Outdoor tables would be a big plus for the nice weather.

All of the staff were warm and helpful. The menu is in both English and Chinese. We can’t wait to go back and try more dishes, and next time get creative enough to make our own!

Junzi Kitchen’s official hours are 11 am to 10 pm, so you  an get a snack, meal, or drunchies all day long. (We hope they stay open later though to extend those drunchie hours, though. Noodles > Koronets.) Junzi has catering, delivery, and pickup options in addition to in-person ordering. We also look forward to seeing new dishes hit the menu, as different vegetables come into season. Cheers to more campus dining options!

First four photos via Sarah Dahl, last three photos via Autumn Lewis