Cheap Eats 2007: A&J Restaurant

A&J originated in Taiwan after the Chang family fled there from the northern Chinese province of Shandong during the civil war—a bit of family history helpful to navigating the varied menu. Cuisine from Shandong consists largely of noodles, breads, buns, pancakes, and the like, and that’s what to look for in these tiny, cash-only places.

You might begin with the pan-fried pork pot stickers—piping-hot homemade dumplings stuffed with seasoned ground pork, shaped in a classic northern-style cylinder, and best eaten as they arrive. The soups, big enough for two, have enough depth and complexity for an entire meal. The Spicy Beef Tendon Noodle soup borrows its kick from Szechuan—its heat is best tamed by a plate of cold pickled cabbage. Chinese Style Fried Chicken is one of the area’s best fried chickens, smoky and succulent; an intensely flavored bowl of broth comes with it.

With the emphasis on the flavors of Shangdong, there’s not a single seafood dish on the menu. With cooking this varied and lively, you probably won’t miss it.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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.