As we all know, restaurants took a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eateries across the globe had to rethink their strategy to survive and ghost kitchens began to thrive in a market where people could no longer dine out. You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a ghost kitchen?” Essentially, they are kitchens preparing delivery-only meals either as a standalone or operating out of another restaurant’s kitchen. There isn’t an official storefront for customer seating, either. Operating out of a rented ghost kitchen is more cost effective than owning a restaurant or even a food truck, as permits can be costly.
Ghost kitchens have started to pop up in Jersey City, with the most recent one being Damn Son Dim Sum, an Asian-Latin fusion restaurant with an urban twist. The couple behind Damn Son Dim Sum, Kim and Destrie, got the idea to open a ghost kitchen in the midst of lockdown last year.
Wanting to represent the cultural fusion of growing up in NYC during the 80s and 90s, where the corner store bodega with their baconeggandcheeses would meet the local family Chinese restaurant, Damn Son Dim Sum’s unique Asian-Latin blend burst forth. By handpicking a variety of popular dishes from both Asian and Hispanic cuisines, they’ve created a menu that bridges the two cultures in an amazing explosion of flavor. And it’s sure as hell Damn Son Damn Good! With savory bomb baos, beef scallion pancake burritos, stuffed yucca balls, and plenty of other delish bites, there’s something that’ll delight everyone’s taste buds.
Some of my faves off the menu are their The New OG Pork Belly Bao – tender and juicy braised pork belly, topped with a delicious ginger-scallion relish; Boricua Dumplings – dumplings stuffed with pan fried pernil and cilantro with their in-house Damn Son dipping sauce on the side; and Horchata Boba – their absolutely genius spin on two classic Hispanic and Asian drinks, and it’s a Damn Son must try!
They recently added Bulgogi Wonton Nachos as a special on their menu. I’m personally not much of a nacho fan, but mixing juicy and flavorful bulgogi beef with a sprinkle of queso fresco, scallions and red pepper, and topping it with crispy fried wonton chips created a dish that I fell in love with at first bite.
It’s only been a month since officially launching, and Kim and Destrie are busy servicing deliveries via their website on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays between 12:30pm and 9pm. Currently, their delivery radius only covers the McGinley Square, Journal Square, Bergen, West Bergen, and Bergen Hill neighborhoods.
For those living outside of those neighborhoods, you can expect Damn Son Dim Sum to join DoorDash in early August. If you want to sample some of their small bites before then, you can catch them in Bayonne on July 17th between 2PM and 7PM! They will be the food vendor at the #HotPlantSummer Pop Up Shop run by @ayva.and.avery on IG, and you can find out more about the pop up below:
While Damn Son Dim Sum is on the top of my list, it’s not the only ghost kitchen to open in NJ, so here’s a few more that I’ve discovered recently:
The Hangry Haggis
This new ghost kitchen has opened up alongside the Gold Roast Cafe in the Heights. Serving up authentic British and Scottish food, The Hangry Haggis has British classics such as fish and chips, black blood sausage pudding, and Dandelion and Burdock available on their menu. You can get a taste of the UK on UberEats on Sundays from 5pm to 10pm.
Mr. Beast Burger
Local businesses are not the only ones taking advantage of this rise in ghost kitchens. Mr. Beast, a popular YouTuber with over 64 million subscribers, recently started his own burger franchise called Mr. Beast Burger. This was made possible through Virtual Dining Concepts, a company that allows any restaurant with an available kitchen to cook food from one of their brands. There are two Mr. Beast Burger ghost kitchens in JC, one in Journal Square, and the other in Downtown – both are available on UberEats.
Mariah Carey’s Cookies
Another franchise powered by Virtual Dining Concepts is Mariah Carey’s (yes, the legendary singer Mariah Carey) Cookies, which you need to try for yourself! There are nine delectable cookie flavors to choose from, like Lemon Cooler, White Chocolate Cranberry and Pumpkin. Located in the same Downtown JC ghost kitchen as Mr. Beast Burger, you can mix-and-match Mimi’s cookies to your heart’s content on UberEats.
Okay, okay, last ghost kitchen from a celebrity via Virtual Dining Concepts—I was just surprised to find so many near us! Tyga Bites offers dippable oven baked chicken bites and tater tots alongside 12 signature dipping sauces. Chicken bites are available in three different “dusts” – Black Garlic, Peri-Peri, and Lemon Black Pepper. Tamarind Chipotle, Garlic Parm and Mango Habanero are just some of the temptingly tangy sauces available. If you’re looking for the next best thing since wings, Tyga Bites has got you covered on UberEats!
The famous restauranter, Guy Fieri, has also come up with his own line of ghost kitchens featuring his real-deal flavors. The menu features shareables like Jalapeno Pig Poppers and Super-Melty-Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, an assortment of burgers, wings and fries and cheesecake slices that rival anything on Cheesecake Factory’s list. With locations in Cherry Hill, Marlton, and Sicklerville, NJ, hopefully a Flavortown Kitchen opens up closer to home soon!
Have you noticed any ghost kitchens while hunting for your next meal on UberEats or Grubhub? Let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments below!