With midterm season in full swing and finals season starting to rear its ugly head, I’ve been spending an ungodly amount of money on late-night food lately. One night, an epiphany struck — either brought on by a divine intervention or liquid courage, can’t say which — I should spend even more money on late-night food to write what is essentially a bootleg version of Buzzfeed’s “Worth It!” So today I’ll be reviewing three late-night spots in New Haven at three drastically different price points (drastic to an extent, okay, I’m not made of money).
Our first stop is the ever-trusty Good Nature Market, fondly known as “Gheav”. Popular items here include the bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, the Gobbler sandwich and the Hungry Man Hero. My personal go-to is the bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel with over-medium eggs, Muenster cheese and hot sauce. I recommend the over-medium eggs for people who don’t like hard yolks but also are on-the-go and don’t want a mess on their hands. The Muenster cheese has a sharper taste, which cuts through the fattiness of the bacon and the yolk of the runny egg. Its softer texture also allows it to maintain that coveted melty-cheese quality even in the colder months. This breakfast sandwich is a classic that Gheav somehow always does right; and at around $4, it is certainly worth the price.
Next up is Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant. I picked Mamoun’s as the mid-tier price point as their menu comes in a range of prices, from a falafel sandwich at a little over $4 or other meat sandwiches for around $7. I went with my usual — the falafel sandwich — which is affordable, but doesn’t compromise deliciousness. The falafel itself was well-spiced and was nicely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The creamy hummus and soft pita bread enhanced the texture of the falafel, while the lettuce and tomatoes lended a great freshness to the sandwich. Of course, I had to add their signature hot sauce on top, and let me tell you, it is hot. Like, will-burn-on-its-way-out kind of hot. My only gripe is that the sandwiches are quite small and a lot of space is left in each pita that I feel could be filled with more toppings. Overall, Mamoun’s is a solid choice.
Last but not least is Junzi. At about $8 per late-night dish, this was the most expensive spot I tried, but my god, was it worth it. The two dishes ordered were the Rice Bowl Special with General Chu’s Chicken and the Scallion Bing Special with Mongolian Beef.
The Rice Bowl Special with General Chu’s Chicken features soft-scrambled eggs, pickled daikon, cilantro and rice infused with pork drippings. The bowl had a good combination of flavors, but the fried chicken was a little too oily, causing the batter to be more soggy than crispy. The rice was also strangely mushy and didn’t have as much flavor as I expected from its menu description. Nevertheless, the tender sheets of scrambled egg blanketing the bowl made up for its shortcomings.
Now, the Scallion Bing Special was the real star of the night. It consisted of a crispy scallion pancake with tender pieces of beef topped with a fried egg, sweet chili sauce and pickled daikon on the side. The chili sauce drizzled on top perfectly complemented the beef, which was juicy and flavorful with a touch of sweetness from the hoisin sauce it was cooked in. The pickled daikon acted as a palate-cleanser to offset the fattiness of the beef and the fried egg. The crispiness of the pancake contrasting with the runny egg made this dish the perfect balance of both flavors and textures. Hands down, this is the best thing I’ve had at Junzi.
Warning: Junzi’s late-night food quality might not be consistent depending on if you order delivery or pick it up in store. When Iyala Alai ’22 ordered delivery, her General Chu’s Chicken came to her cold and rubbery.
My “Worth It” winner? Though it’s somewhat of a splurge, I have to say Junzi.
Ashley Qin | firstname.lastname@example.org