From China Hands – The Huffington Post
May 5, 2015
A new Chinese restaurant, Junzi Kitchen, is opening on Broadway in small city New Haven, CT. And they’re promising to brew a small scale revolution in American-Chinese cuisine. For starters they’re not serving General Tso’s chicken. They’re serving a northeastern snack, fast casual style: chung-bing.
The first word that comes to mind as you bite into Junzi Kitchen’s new chun-bing is balance. Balance, as in juicy chunks of pork hock braised overnight against crisp vegetables tossed, dressed, and treated with respect. All wrapped in a thin pancake. Piquant, gritty Northeastern Chinese flavors layered carefully in a tight wrap. Sweet and sour. Savory and spice. This is the sort of thing you could finish in one bite. But instead, you savor, bite by bite to decipher and make sense of the flavor profiles at work.
But balance, too, as in a single food item on the cultural vanguard that reverses orientalist persuasions and disrupts the status quo of Chinese food in America. The chun-bing, a comfort food item brought over directly from Northeastern China, not adulterated for Americans, but refined into a product that is clean, thoughtful, accessible, and flavorful. Junzi Kitchen, opening this spring in New Haven, CT, is at the forefront of a new wave of Chinese cuisine in America, one that brings to life a translation of flavors that does not condescend to the American palate. An imported food item that instead appeals to a modern American food climate that respects and indulges in authentic culture, sustainability, and simply delicious food.
Chinese cuisine in America is as popular as ever, but the market is ripe for disruption by restaurants like Junzi Kitchen. A survey of ethnic cuisines in America yields that Chinese food is by far the most popular ethnic food in America, with over 43,000 Chinese restaurants in the country. That’s more than all the Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and KFC branches combined. The second most popular ethnic cuisine is Mexican, with around 31,000 restaurants nationally.