Each week in our Chefs Off Duty series, we talk to some of our favorite chefs and industry folk around the country to find out their secret late-night spots where they like to grab a bite and a pint when their kitchens are finally closed. Next up: Joseph "JJ" Johnson, Chef de Cuisine at Harlem's buzzy Afro-Asian-American brasserie, The Cecil.
Where do you like to grab a bite when you're leaving The Cecil?
I like Jin Ramen on Harlem on 126th St. and Broadway. It's kind of close to my house. It's a really small place and I go in there to eat good noodles, good buns. You don't have to go all the way down to Momofuku or Ippudo to get good noodles. It's a small eatery that I don't think a lot of people know about.
How did you first discover this place?
I actually was walking by maybe six months ago and was like, "We have a noodle spot in Harlem now?" I sat down and got this big bowl of noodles and you can add toppings so we added pork belly and a tea poached egg. They have these really nice pork buns. The buns are really moist and the pork is cooked really well and they have this really nice spicy sauce -- I don't know what it is. I always ask them but they never tell me.
What are their other specialties?
They do this boneless fried chicken that's really good. But the ramen and buns are my go-tos. I like to switch up the ramen toppings. You can put bean sprouts on top, you can have an extra-spicy sauce. I really do stick with the pork, though.
Jin Ramen, 3183 Broadway, New York; Open Daily 11:30am-3:30pm; Mon-Thu, 5pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-midnight; Sun, 5pm-10pm