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Lipa’s Munch

Food and prop styling by Shiri Feldman
Food prep and styling by Chef Suzie Gornish
Photography by Felicia Perretti


Lipa Ribiat


Lipa’s Munch


Lakewood, New Jersey


Three years ago


To provide yeshivah bochurim with a place to buy great fast food

I’d just finished a spin class at the gym when I got an email with my next Like a Local deadline. A couple of us were still hanging around the locker room, so I took the opportunity to ask if anyone had an idea for me. That’s when Raquel exclaimed, “What about Lipa’s Munch?”

I was intrigued. As a local Lakewood resident who’s pretty much up-to-date with all things food, I was surprised that I’d never even heard of this establishment before though it’s been around for more than three years. When another one of my friends said, “They have the absolute best buffalo chicken fingers that exist,” I knew this was going to be my featured locale.

That Shabbos, when I mentioned to my kids that I’m thinking of checking out this joint, my son insisted that I can’t possibly walk into the store between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., as it’s completely mobbed with bochurim. His take was that it’s a “bochur spot,” and that they’re famous for their “insane cholent.” Well, after that introduction, my curiosity was piqued, and I confirmed that I’ll certainly head over to check it out, albeit during the store’s “family hours” between 4 and 10 p.m.

The following Wednesday night found me and my sister Faigy, along with our girls, stepping inside a cramped but homey little storefront. I’m not sure what I had expected, but the first thing that struck me was how small it was. I later found out that there’s some additional seating upstairs, which made it easier to understand where the 150-plus boys manage to hang out each night. We ordered a variety of chicken fingers, with the finger-lickin’ buffalo fingers coming in as the clear winner. I also sampled a saucer-sized thin and crispy potato latke that was out of this world!

Although they’re famous for their cholent, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat cholent on an ordinary Wednesday night. I was told that the trick to the cholent’s amazing flavor is in the unique concept used to create its base. Lipa swears that caramelizing sugar, adding some honey, and then deep-frying the onions in that mixture imbues it with the depth of flavor that helps him sell roughly 750 portions of cholent weekly.

It turned out that Lipa was in his hometown of Toronto for a wedding that night, so I didn’t get to meet him personally, but we spoke at length a few days later, and I got the full rundown. His love for food and dabbling in the kitchen began in yeshivah, where he used to help make lunch for the bochurim. Five years later found him in Lakewood, frequenting the home of the famous Butch Epstein of Epstein’s butcher shop for Shabbos. He also became close with Mr. Kaufman of Simcha Catering, and the two of them encouraged him to open what he calls “a chill for bochurim” located in a storefront that Mr. Kaufman owned, right in the heart of Lakewood. And lo and behold, a new star was born!

Lipa was adept at making a killer cholent, and he did so weekly for several years, while volunteering in Minyan Shelanu, a program for at-risk teens in Lakewood. His friends helped him out with his initial recipes, including the pungent secret sauce that makes his buffalo chicken fingers absolutely fly off the shelves. For now, he keeps his menu quite small, focusing on fast-food staples, namely deli roll, potato kugel, French fries, chicken soup, franks-in-blanks, and a variety of chicken sandwiches, with plans to enhance his menu with some new and exciting dishes in the near future.

So what is it that makes Lipa’s Munch so successful? How is it that he created one of Lakewood’s top go-to spots for the hungry bochur looking to chill after a full day of yeshivah? In Lipa’s own words: “Davening, davening, davening…and a heavy dose of siyata d’Shmaya.” He also attributes his success to being kind to customers and going the extra mile, whether or not it’s best for his business.

I wish him continued hatzlachah, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll churn out next!

Cholent for a Crowd


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ cups honey
  • 3 large Spanish onions, sliced into half circles
  • 40 cups boiling water
  • 8 lb (3.63 kg) neck meat
  • 1½–2 lb (680–910 g) beef fat
  • 10 lb (4.54 kg) potatoes, diced
  • 3 16-oz (450-g) bags barley
  • 2 16-oz (450-g) bags cholent beans
  • 1 cup paprika
  • ½ cup black pepper
  • ¾ cup salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Place sugar into a large pot in an even layer over medium-high heat. Allow sugar to melt, swirling the pot occasionally as it cooks until it liquefies completely and turns an amber brown color. Keep a careful watch so it doesn’t burn.

Once the sugar is fully caramelized, carefully add the honey to the pot and mix until fully incorporated. The mixture will be sticky and slightly candied.

Working quickly, add the onions to the pot and fry them in the hot caramel for 2–3 minutes, taking care to avoid any spritzing. Add half of the boiling water and stir, bringing the mixture back to a boil. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the water, mixing until well combined.

Place into a 22-qt crock pot and cook for 12–18 hours at 275°F (135°C). Alternatively, place into 2 large roaster pans in the oven at 225°F (105°C) for 12–18 hours.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 882)

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