Harlem restaurateur dishes great meals here and at the Open

VINCENT DAVIS | 9/19/2019, 6:44 p.m.
It can be very hard to get the attention of sports media members who are fed everything from corn dogs ...
Chef JJ Johnson Bill Moore photo

It can be very hard to get the attention of sports media members who are fed everything from corn dogs to prime rib, shrimp and lobster with a variety of sides and assorted desserts, but chef J.J. Johnson was prepared for them, the athletes, the celebrities and multicultural crowds in attendance at this summer’s U.S. Open, with a menu of dishes that he describes as “a cuisine influenced by global flavors.”

The memory of a frightful corn dog at MetLife Stadium is more likely to stay in a sports media member’s mind like a Michael Jordan game-winning shot or an Aaron Boone walk-off homerun to beat the Boston Red Sox than a fabulously prepared salmon dish, but Johnson’s entrees at his Field Trip restaurant on the grounds of the Open, located across from the Louis Armstrong Stadium, were impressive.

Johnson, who looks younger than his age of late thirty-something, was a featured chef of the Open this season. He was one of several presented to all media members celebrating the tennis tournament’s opening.

There were lines during the full two weeks of the U.S. Open for Field Trip’s dishes of crispy chicken over Carolina Gold Rice and edamame with a sticky BBQ sauce, braised beef over Texas brown rice, spicy black beans and turmeric yogurt, shrimp with a sticky rice, toasted coconut with a greenish curry sauce, and their own salmon dish with China Black Rice, pineapple, edamame and a piri piri sauce.

There are also several vegetable dishes and salads on the menu for the health conscious. Specialized dishes are also available.

The common denominator between all of these dishes is the rice that’s served. Each dish features it. To Johnson, most people, no matter where they’re from, eat some form of rice. “It’s our shared experience,” he said.

“Rice is Culture” is their mantra. “It was born out of my realization that rice connects us all. It can be found at the center of tables in almost every community.”

In addition to the prime area U.S. Open location, a major move up from where they were located last season, Field Trip also has a year-round location in Harlem, opened earlier this year on Malcolm X Boulevard, Lenox Avenue between 115th and 116th streets.