Junzi Kitchen makes bings and noodles. We add in braised meats, Chinese vegetables, pickles, garnish, sauce. Everything’s prepared in front of you in about a minute.
Night Lunch is our late-night menu featuring Chinese street foods, as well as experimental dishes from our crew and guest chefs.
And we like collaborating with people on cool projects😄
Our founders Yong, Wanting, and Ming met during their graduate studies at Yale. They missed the flavors of their hometowns in Northern China, and wanted to start a project from this that could turn into a bigger idea.
The first Junzi Kitchen opened at Yale's campus in October of 2015. A few weeks later we started a late-night menu, Night Lunch, that often featured experimental dishes from guest chefs and our crew. Then we started exploring how else Junzi Kitchen could fuel collaborations with ambitious creative people.
Bings And Noodles
Because rice historically hasn’t grown well in Northern China, where our founders grew up, wheat has been the focal grain. After being grounded and mixed into water it forms the dough for bing. At Junzi Kitchen, we focus on two types of Northern bing — chun bing and noodles.
Horsemen relied on tough bings made of roughly crushed grains. At camps, they broke up the disks and cooked them in lamb broth. In the cities, royal chefs folded bing into oil and sugar to make pastries. Bing stuffed with meat and vegetables became dumplings. Eventually, people shaved strands of bing dough into boiling water. We now call those strands of flour “noodles.”
Chun bing (“spring” bing) is a thin flour bing pressed and used to wrap meats and vegetables. The chun bing is traditionally eaten to celebrate the arrival of spring. The chun bing is the first bite into spring.
Noodles were originally flat, wide strands of bing dough shaved directly into boiling water. Later, during celebrations and festivals, cooks began stretching the noodle dough to produce longer, thinner strands as a symbol for long life. At Junzi we serve both types, spring noodles and knife noodles.
During his undergraduate years in Beijing, our co-founder Yong Zhao ate little more than chun bings. They were good snacks between classes and they were good as full meals. Growing up, Yong heard stories about his great grandfather's bings: “He’d stand over a giant wok making bings while Grandma worked the bellows and fed firewood into the stove. The kids stood around and watched, mouths watering from the smell. The ingredients were simple — shredded cabbage, bamboo shoots, some meat — but the chun bings were unforgettable.”
creating a working ecosystem
Our chef Lucas Sin opened his first restaurant when he was 16, in the wine cellar of an abandoned newspaper factory in his hometown of Hong Kong. And during his undergraduate years at Yale, Lucas ran eight student-staffed restaurants. Each semester there was a new team of unskilled yet eager students to train. It always began with the basics — how to clean dishes, tie an apron, hold a knife, stand straight. Quick learners were given the opportunity to design a dish for the restaurant. By the end of a semester, students that initially couldn’t chop garlic were braising pork belly for 150 guests a night.
The training system that Lucas started at Yale continues to develop at Junzi Kitchen. Night Lunch, the Junzi Kitchen late-night menu, often features experimental dishes from guest chefs and ambitious Junzi crew members. Many crewmembers choose to build upon a dish they grew up with, whether it’s Filipino lumpia, Cajun gumbo, or Korean pajeon. With the help of chef Lucas , crewmembers turn their childhood dishes into exciting late-night eats. It provides crewmembers with a space for experimentation, and eaters with an evolving menu.