BY GABE HERMAN | Junzi Kitchen is a fast-casual restaurant that has quickly become a popular staple in the Village by serving quality Northern Chinese cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Last summer, it opened its Bleecker St. location, at the corner of Sullivan St.
This is the third Junzi, in total. The first opened in 2015 in New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University. So far, all of the eatery’s spots are near university campuses. Another one is in Morningside Heights near Columbia University, and now this Village one is near New York University. A new location at Bryant Park is set to open this spring.
Chef Lucas Sin is originally from Hong Kong and opened his first restaurant there when he was 16. While attending Yale and studying cognitive science and English, he ran restaurants out of his dorm on the weekends.
Sin’s culinary experience also includes time in Japan, Seattle and New York. In addition to chef, he is also the culinary director of Junzi Kitchen. Along with the everyday menu items, like noodles and bings — a flat type of bread — he offers an after-hours menu every weekend with “funkier, more indulgent” items, according to Junzi’s Web site. These include fried chicken, instant noodles and “juice box cocktails.”
Sin also runs a monthly chef’s table, where he creates special five-to-seven-course tasting menus based on different types of Chinese cuisine. These are exclusive events that are referral-only and reservation-only. Past themes have included Chinese-Dominican cuisine, Italian-Chinese cross-sections, and “14th-century imperial Chinese food therapy.”
“Junzi” is a Chinese word meaning “a person who is humble, thoughtful and open to new ideas,” the restaurant’s Web site notes. “For us, striving to be a junzi is the guiding principle for everything we do: from how we make our food to how we relate to the world.”
All vegetables that go into dishes are hand-selected from local suppliers, including green cabbage, sweet potatoes and long beans. The menu’s main features are bings and noodles, including thinner spring noodles and knife noodles, which are wider and wavy.
Noodle sauces include tomato egg and furu (fermented bean curd) sesame, while bing sauces include garlic chili and roasted sesame.
There are also many meat and vegetable toppings to choose from, including braised beef shank, seared chicken thigh, king oyster mushrooms, griddle-seared tofu, and pickled daikon, a type of Chinese radish.
Bing dishes generally go for about $7 or $8, and noodle dishes are in the $10-to-$12 range. There are gluten-free and vegan options. For more information, visit www.junzi.kitchen.