Chef JJ Johnson is a big deal in the food world. He ran the kitchen at The Cecil/Minton’s in our Harlem neighborhood, where he was nominated for a James Beard award. The acclaim pulled him downtown to run Henry at the Life Hotel. More buzz ensued. Thankfully, he hasn’t forgotten his Harlem roots and has just opened Fieldtrip in our neighborhood.

Rice is an integral part of almost every culture’s cuisine. It was certainly standard in my Southern house, but is also central to Mexican, Persian, and Japanese cuisines…just to name a [very] few. Fieldtrip takes that idea and turns it into a full menu of globally inspired rice bowls.

We started with the crab pockets. The flavor of the crab – REAL crab – was incredible. This is not takeout crab rangoon that’s all cream cheese and a scent of fake crab meat. In fact, I don’t even think there was cream cheese in there at all. My only complaint is that the ratio was a bit off. I would have preferred a bit more filling.

For our bowls, Albert got the crispy chicken (Carolina Gold Rice, edamame, and sticky BBQ sauce) and thought it was good but the sweet sauce wasn’t exactly what he was in the mood for. Mostly I think he was jealous of my braised beef bowl (with Texas Brown Rice, spicy black beans, and turmeric yogurt). And he should have been. It was great. The ingredients are all sustainably sourced, and you can tell. The proteins are cooked very well. My beef was super tender and the shrimp I saw on somebody else’s table looked plumb with just the right amount of char marks. The shrimp bowl is definitely next on my list to try and, lucky me, they deliver so I can try it very soon.

The pink lemonade is made pink with dragonfruit. What a revelation. Flavored lemonade that’s naturally flavored and colored? So good.

Make sure you top everything with the house-made sauces.

This part of Harlem was in desperate need of a fast casual restaurant. I’m so happy we now have one – and even happier that it comes at a price point that’s a little lower than similar spots. Chef Johnson has not ignored the neighborhood. I’m sure he would like for new people to travel to our area, but he’s not alienating the people who already live there. These bowls are pretty big and none of them will cost you more than $12. Yes, you read that right. $12 max for rice that’s sourced directly from farmers and received with the husk and germ on. That labor-filled process on the Fieldtrip end is something you don’t usually see in a “fast” place.