A & J Restaurant - Annandale
4316-B Markham St.
Cuisines: Breakfast, Chinese, Cantonese, Dim Sum
Open Monday through Friday 11:30 to 9, and Saturday and Sunday 10 to 9.
Nearby Metro Stops: Dunn Loring-Merrifield
Price Range: Inexpensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Sesame biscuits with sliced pork or beef ; pickled spicy cucumbers; chicken-and-cucumber salad with mustard sauce dan dan noodles; noodles with stewed, ground pork; fried chicken over rice; soy-sauce chicken; chicken soup with noodles and bok choy; musta
Dim sum, .95 cents to $5.95.
Special Features: Kid Friendly
When was the last time you had a sandwich at a Chinese restaurant? For an experience that challenges your notions of what Chinese cuisine is, head to these northern-Chinese dim sum parlors. Both locations attract a youngish crowd. Rockville, with trapeze lighting and spice-colored walls, is a bit trendier. Annandale has a more traditional look: faux stone and a mural of China.
Unlike the dumplings and noodles that characterize Hong Kong-style dim sum, the northern-Chinese version revolves around bread. The reason? The cold, dry climate of the north is suitable for growing wheat and millet rather than rice, a staple in the south. Breadstuffs include thousand-layer pancake (it actually has about 20) and what can only be described as a sandwich--two flaky, sesame-studded rectangles of dough with bits of pork or beef between them. To take a bite is to experience happiness.
Delicious dumplings the size of a Cuban cigar are stuffed with pork--they may look odd, but the taste is familiar. Steamed spareribs with spiced rice powder are worthwhile morsels, as are razor-thin shavings of pork. More substantial are two show-stopper soups. One has the bite of mustard greens; the other, a fiery beef stew, woos with chilies.