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A&J Restaurant?

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Melanie Wong Jul 23, 2001 04:51 AM

Noticed this place after dinner at Silver Wing in Cupertino Village a couple weeks ago. It was jam-packed on Sunday night with a long line too. Any personal recommendations?

Link: http://www.222.to/aandj/

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    Nancy Acton RE: Melanie Wong Jul 23, 2001 08:49 PM

    I haven't been to the Cupertino Village location, but did go to the one in Milpitas (at the corner of Brokaw and Lundy) several times for lunch when I used to work in that area. According to their website, they also have locations in Taipei, Taiwan, and Beijing!

    Some recommendations: The onion pancakes are pretty good. The thousand layers pancakes are similar to what I think the Singoporeans call roti paratha (available at the SF location of Straits Cafe). It consists of many layers of fluffy but greasy pastry that pulls into "threads". It tends to be on the bland and oily side, but the texture is interesting and fun to eat. The wonton with hot and spicy sauce is also decent.

    The cold cucumber with hot garlic sauce is a treat with a kick. The noodle soups are pretty standard, no real standouts there, although I remember the pork and vegetable wonton soup (Shanghai-style) was rather dismal. The entree dishes are mediocre (some tending to be rather oily), but relatively inexpensive.

    They have a nice selection of northern style dim sum in the morning and weekend brunch. Two notable items (I don't know the English translation as they were not on the English menu) are "crab shell yellow" and "daikon radish thread pancakes" (literally). Crab shell yellow is a many layered pastry baked with scallion pieces and little bits of bacon inside if I remember correctly. The daikon radish thread pancakes, my favorites, are similarly baked layered pastries filled with very finely julienned radish, scallions, and bacon bits. The daikon pastries are especially flaky, not greasy, with good flavor and lots of filling, one of the best I've had in this country. Then you chase this down with some nice hot soy milk. :)

    So I guess my recommendations are, go for breakfast/brunch if you can for the more interesting selections, otherwise, lunch and dinner are only average but cheap.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Nancy Acton
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      Melanie Wong RE: Nancy Acton Jul 24, 2001 02:09 AM

      Thanks for the feedback, Nancy. For Chinese restaurants which often have 70 to 100+ items on the menu, it's invaluable to have specific recommendations.

      Sounds like you've confirmed my hunch that the attraction is the low prices, rather than anything special about the food.

      1. re: Melanie Wong
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        AJ RE: Melanie Wong Jul 28, 2001 12:42 AM

        Mel, I've been to this place a couple times in the past but stopped going when gas prices skyrocketed to $2.25/gallon.

        Prices per dish are cheap but when you add up all the entrees and appetizers and portions that you would need to order to at least be marginally full, then it can get pricey. Like Nancy said, the dishes are okay, but one thing that stood out for me was the beef noodle soup (noo row mien) It's Taiwanese style. And some of the appetizers, assorted dishes like 3 kinds of mushroom, spicy tripe, seaweed and bean sprouts seem to have a nice flavor. That's what we usually order. They pass out a price list with all the items listed in Chinese and you get to choose what you want by writing on the corresponding line how many dishes of each you want. You could easily rack up 4 or 5 appetizers easily. I'm ABC but I learned guerilla Chinese to distinguish characters like beef or pork or frog or lamb and because some of the good stuff is written only in Chinese without English translation. Easiest way I've found is when we shared a table and see something the other party has that looks tasty and ask them what it is and look for it on the menu. That's how I discovered the seaweed and bean sprouts and semi spicy sliced tripe.

        Afterwards, for dessert we go to Fantasia in that same shopping mall and have the green papaya tapioca ball drink. Haven't found another place that was as tasty. They serve the basic milk tea tapioca but that papaya is a different tangy/sweet sour taste. On weekends it's booking with a lot of young Asians.
        If you're in the Cupertino area, check out A&J for the Taiwanese "kimchee"

        I've wanted to try out Joy Luck but it was always extremely crowded and that style of food can be had at ABC in Foster City or Flower Lounge or Fook Yuen.

        There's a Chinese place along Stevens Creek in Cupertino in a shopping mall that I can't remember but went there for someone's wedding and the food was excellent......something Fu......if it comes to mind I'll mention it. They had this shrimp dish where the half shell of the shrimp was stuffed with some shrimp or seafood paste and steamed and had some garlic sauce. Delicious.

        1. re: AJ
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          Melanie Wong RE: AJ Jul 28, 2001 01:26 AM

          Thought this was your restaurant, AJ. (g)

          You've certainly cut a wide swathe through Bay Area Chinese geography. I mentioned my visit to Q Cup in an earlier thread. My brother said that Fantasia is better too.

          I'm born here too, and am language impared. Like you, I have some culinary Chinese reading ability and enough Cantonese food vocabulary. With help of others on this site, maybe I can pick up some Mandarin too.

          Please feel free to start new threads to talk about some of your favorite places. The site management has asked that we try to stay on topic and not let threads turn into spider webs - strains the software. We're all guilty of it sometime or other, but let's try.

          1. re: Melanie Wong
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            Chandavkl RE: Melanie Wong Jul 29, 2001 11:48 AM

            The original A&J opened down here in southern California in Alhambra about 15 years ago and they've been opening and closing additional branches ever since. I just came back from Washington DC a couple of days ago and they even have a branch in Rockville, MD, which is sort of the Monterey Park of DC. Frankly, I've been puzzled by the ability of this chain to open up multiple locations. At least down here, there's nothing extraordinary about their food.

            1. re: Chandavkl
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              Melanie Wong RE: Chandavkl Jul 29, 2001 02:52 PM

              The geography for this place was pretty far flung. Besides Rockville, in WA State too.

              A&J, Southland Taste (related to Tainan Taste), and the bbq corner of Joy Luck Place (not the main restaurant) were the busiest restaurants the Sunday I was in Cupertino. All the cheapest, I think too.

          2. re: AJ
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            Nancy Acton RE: AJ Jul 30, 2001 02:22 AM

            < There's a Chinese place along Stevens Creek in Cupertino in a shopping mall that I can't remember but went there for someone's wedding and the food was
            excellent......something Fu......

            I believe you are thinking of Hong Fu at the corner of De Anza Blvd and Stevens Creek (next to the almost defunct McWhorters). Yes, I go there often. The restaurant has nice ambience, and it is large so wait is usually not a problem. There is a "secret Chinese menu" with lots of interesting specialties. One of my favorites (very spicy, not for the faint of heart) is "little Hunan stir-fry" (Hu2 Nan2 shiao3 chao3) which is basically julienned pork strips sauteed with julienned chili peppers in chili oil. You have to sort of fish the meat out to avoid eating too much of the oil, but boy does it pack a punch! ;). I also like whole fish (choice of 3 kinds) with spicy bean paste and for those who have acquired the taste of fermented tofu, sauteed greens (kong1 shin1 tsai4 - hollow heart greens) with fermented tofu sauce.

            1. re: Nancy Acton
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              Melanie Wong RE: Nancy Acton Jul 30, 2001 03:38 AM

              I'm not cluing in on the "hollow heart green". Would this be water spinach with the hollow stems (ong choi in Cantonese)?

              1. re: Melanie Wong
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                Nancy Acton RE: Melanie Wong Jul 31, 2001 02:49 AM

                Yes, ong choi in Cantonese would be the same thing. I didn't know it is called water spinach in English. :) In Mandarin, it is often called kong1 shin1 tsai4, which is literally hollow heart greens. The hollow heart describes the hollow stems of the plant.

                1. re: Nancy Acton
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                  Melanie Wong RE: Nancy Acton Jul 31, 2001 01:56 PM

                  Thanks, Nancy. Here's a link to more info. Also called water convolvulus on Chinese menus. Very popular in Southeast Asian cuisine.

                  Link: http://www.rain.org/greennet/docs/exo...

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
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                    Nancy Acton RE: Melanie Wong Jul 31, 2001 05:12 PM

                    Fascinating! You have a link for everything, Melanie. :)

                    1. re: Nancy Acton
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                      Melanie Wong RE: Nancy Acton Jul 31, 2001 06:12 PM

                      Nancy Berry is my role model. She's the queen of web searches. (g)

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
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                        Nancy Berry RE: Melanie Wong Aug 1, 2001 11:44 AM

                        Good find, Melanie, and thanks for the compliment.

              2. re: Nancy Acton
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                AJ RE: Nancy Acton Aug 2, 2001 01:40 PM

                Thanks for refreshing my memory. With gas available at $1.48/gallon at Costco, I think it's time to check out Hong Fu again.

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