A & J Restaurant: Chinese Comfort Food in Annandale

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Last night I finally got to experience a restaurant I’ve been hearing about for awhile. Authentic Chinese food different from my usual fare and still different from Americanized Chinese food. A delightful, low key place that only takes cash and non-native speakers are definitely in the minority: A & J Restaurant in Annandale, VA.

In addition to great food, it’s also very inexpensive with dishes running $3.95-$7.95. There were 4 of us and we wound up ordering about 7 different dishes which totaled only $33 including tax.

Food started coming out almost immediately after we ordered, beginning with the cucumber in chili oil cold appetizer. That was my favorite! Something about the soothing cold cucumber with a spicy aftertaste.

Next to arrive was the smoked chicken. I’m not a huge fan of chicken on the bone, although this hardly could be considered such. It was very tender and moist, and easy to manage with chopsticks. Good, but not one of my favorites.

The chicken was quickly followed by a braised pork rice with braised egg dish. Braised egg apparently means hard boiled, and at first glance I thought it was still in the shell (it wasn’t). The pork was pleasantly spicy but the texture of the boiled egg didn’t quite seem to go for me. Still, quite tasty and a bargain at <$5.

After the rice, the thousand layer pancake arrived. While I’d had visions of it somehow being like the crepe cake I adored in Bangkok, I was pretty happy with what we got. It was like a combination between the first pancake that comes off the oiled griddle overly crunchy and buttery and a really good yeast roll. And add a little soy sauce on top and the most wonderful flavors came out.  Definitely tied as my second favorite dish.

Dan Dan Noodles were next, and the spiciest thing we’d ordered. I liked the thick noodles and creamy peanut paste they were coated in.

The braised beef noodle soup came out with the dan dan noodles. This tied for second favorite dish. The thick noodles were fantastic and the beef was incredibly tender. The broth was AMAZING. Definitely get this if you go!!! (Apologies for the shadow on the picture, was trying to be as discrete as possible when taking photos.)

The last dish to arrived was the pan fried beef buns, reminiscent of the nepali momos that I love so dearly. Cutting into them you’re squirted with juice, and the crunchy exterior is a nice contrast to the   tender beef and vegetables inside. I probably would have preferred them a little spicier. (Apologies again for the shadow).

Bring as many people as you can so can try as many dishes as possible!


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1 Comment

  1. Jerry Fu

    December 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    A&J’s serves mostly Taiwanese food, so it’s slightly different than you other types like Dim Sum, Sichuan (aka, the spelling i still have no idea how to pronounce, “Szechuan”). It’s more of a region thing than Chinese comfort food.

    Funny thing, I didn’t know A&J was a chain, but I actually went to one in Irvine this weekend before I flew home from FTU LAX 🙂 And despite the fact that it’s a chain, I have to say the Cali one was better than Annandale still.

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