A&J Restaurant has been the talk of the DC food scene over the last several months, even being featured in the Washintonian’s Cheap Eats issue. A&J serves Northern Chinese cuisine and dim sum, unlike your typical Hong Kong style dim sum. Going into this experience, I thought that I would be familiar with the menu and offerings- har gow, char sui bao, xiao long bao… etc- however, I had never heard of anything on the menu. (In a great way!). Overall, I would say that if you are craving “typical” dim sum, this isn’t the place for you. If you are craving authentic Chinese cuisine, or perhaps you are in the mood for a culinary adventure, A&J should absolutely be on your radar.
The menu consists of starchy dumpling- type dishes, noodles, noodle soups, and small bites. Nothing I normally order at dim sum was on the menu, so it was a great opportunity to try some new things. This food is definitely not light. The dumplings are pastry stuffed with various ingredients or pan-fried dumplings with a thick outside.
We ordered a lot of dishes so that we could try a lot of different items on the menu. My favorite items were the dan dan noodles with spicy peanut sauce, the smashed cucumber salad, the fried chicken with rice and the pan-fried pork dumplings. The dan dan noodles were absolutely incredible. The noodles were made in-house and the spicy peanut sauce was delicious, with a subtle peanut flavor and slightly sweet. The fried chicken was also incredible. Perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and paired with simple (yet perfect) white rice and finely chopped pickles.
Overall A&J was absolutely delicious and I would recommend it to anyone in the area but if you are looking for classic dim sum (think carts and har gow), you won’t get that here. I will absolutely be back for some noodles and chicken and I can’t wait to try the noodle soup!