Cheap Eats 2009: A & J Restaurant – Annandale

Great food, low prices, lots of fun.

Why go: There’s no rolling-out of carts, and the emphasis on Northern Chinese–style dim sum means a preponderance of starchy fare. But if these two sparely appointed diners lack the variety and big-event excitement of the more popular Southern-style dim sum halls, they don’t lack for satisfactions. You can cobble together a feast for a relative pittance.

What to get: Thick noodles with sesame sauce or peanut powder or topped with stewed beef; mustard-green soup; garlicky bands of pickled cucumber; boiled peanuts; wontons in red-chili oil; smoked and steamed chicken.

Best for: A good alternative to stir-fries.

Insider tip: Bring cash—the restaurant doesn’t take credit cards or checks.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.