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A&J, The Tang Family's Fine Taiwan-Based Chain in Rockville and Annandale


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I go to A&J in Annandale on a sporadic basis, essentially going either when I suddenly get a craving for their stuff, or if I happen to be in the neighborhood, which is rare. But I was there this weekend with my partner's Chinese teacher for lunch, and we wound up talking about something I had noticed for some time--with one exception, any non-Chinese there were accompanied by Chinese people. I am not sure whether this is because of the location, or because the menu is a bit restricted, or some other reason, but there is really no reason for "foreigners" not to go here, since the food is fantastic.

For those not in the know, A&J is a Taiwan-based chain, called "Ban Mu Yuan" in Chinese (means half-acre field) with locations all over Taiwan, Beijing, California, Rockville and Annandale. They are specialists in "small dishes", such as dumplings, noodles, vegetable dishes, etc, though they also have more substantial fare, like pork ribs, fried chicken and other meats with rice. It's all very authentic, and on weekends you can even get Chinese breakfast foods like soy milk and "you tiao" (fried dough sticks). Prices are very good, too, though be warned that they only take cash.

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Both Annandale and Rockville are on Uber Eats now!  We also have a new website.  https://www.aandjrestaurant.com Big thanks to DanielK for his feedback on the website and to deangold for his help

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For those not in the know, A&J is a Taiwan-based chain, called "Ban Mu Yuan" in Chinese (means half-acre field)

I wish the Rockville location was that size. It's close quarters.

They are specialists in "small dishes", such as dumplings

Their pork dumplings are incredible. We always get two orders - one to eat there and one to take home.

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stopped by A&J last Monday

as usual had the dumplings, boiled peanuts, bean curd and mustard green salad

and tripe soup which were all as good as ever - I am particularly fond of the bean curd and mustard green salad by now

also tried some shredded pig ear which was quite tasty and steamed ribs which didn't work at all (for us), and 1000 layer pancake which my wife likes but I find bland

$23 incl the bottomloess pot of tea...not too shabby for 7 dishes

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also tried some shredded pig ear which was quite tasty and steamed ribs which didn't work at all (for us), and 1000 layer pancake which my wife likes but I find bland

Is that the steamed ribs with rice powder? Yeah, that didn't work for me either. My usual order are dumplings of some variety plus the garlic cucumbers.

The weather is cooling down, and A&J's pork and mustard green soup beckons...

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Is that the steamed ribs with rice powder? Yeah, that didn't work for me either. My usual order are dumplings of some variety plus the garlic cucumbers.

The weather is cooling down, and A&J's pork and mustard green soup beckons...

thats the one!....I think our general reaction was....icky :lol:

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I am nuts about the following dishes: spicy beef noodle soup with wide noodles; steamed pork buns; peanut, bean curd, and cilantro salad; wontons in hot and sour sauce; sweet red bean pastry. Heck, even the wonton soup will make you sit up and take notice. The broth is nice and light and clear with a mild chicken flavor, not too oniony, with a little whiff of sesame oil.

The menu doesn't state this, but you can get the noodle dishes with wide or thin noodles. The thin are merely good, but the wide are extraordinary - wonderful chewy texture and not-too-mild flavor. They remind me of the handmade pasta my ma used to make.

Dinner there last night: $9.90. For two of us (before tip).

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I was lucky enough to spend Chinese New Year in the company of two Hong Kong natives at A&J on Rockville Pike. A&J is not a traditional Cantonese dim sum restaurant, but serves northern Chinese cuisine. Let me apologize for not knowing the proper names or ingredients of almost anything I ate. The trip was somewhat of a whirlwind and interactions with the waitstaff were conducted entirely in Mandarin.

The meal began with a bowl of sweetened soy milk, which we sopped up using fried bread -- a traditional breakfast, from what I was told. Soon thereafter, small plates began to appear. The food was uncomplicated and delicious. Highlights included:

Cucumber in Hot Garlic Sauce: Fat slices of raw cucumber with a thick, too-spicy-for-some (I loved it) sauce loaded with pepper flakes and chili oil.

Noodles in Peanut Sauce: This dish seemed almost Korean, with bean sprouts, thin strands of cucumber and noodles served cold. The peanut sauce was on the bottom, so be sure to mix it thoroughly.

Pork Egg Roll: Eight of these crispy fried treats came out stacked like lincoln logs, each the size of, well, all I can think of are fairly indelicate comparisons. They're long and girthy. The skin crackles and the meat is well-seasoned.

Mustard Greens with Soy Beans: A light, sweet salad. They must have stir fried the mustard greens, but the salad was served cold. The wilted greens and the dense beans made for a nice contrast. There was a brief stare-down over who was getting the last soy bean... it was a tasty salad.

The kicker... including tax and tip, the meal came to $9 a person. NINE DOLLARS!

We had other things as well, but those were the ones I remember most clearly. I've had Cantonese dim sum all over town, and A&J is worth the trip.

Oh, and please include me for dim sum!

Alex

*Edited to include cost.

Edited by AlexC
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Pork Egg Roll: Eight of these crispy fried treats came out stacked like lincoln logs, each the size of, well, all I can think of are fairly indelicate comparisons. They're long and girthy. The skin crackles and the meat is well-seasoned.

Some people on this board have been know to make similar comments concerning the spring rolls at Corduroy. They like to compare them to some fellow named Ron Jeremy. Although, I am not sure what that means :lol:
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The menu has been revised since my last report. It now states clearly that you can get your noodles thin, wide, or rice stick.

That mustard green and soybean thing is great, ain't it? I tried it for the first time last night.

Edited by porcupine
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Odd as it may sound, two of my favorite fried chicken dishes in town are:

The delectable morsels sitting out in an otherwise boring lunch buffet at Bombay restaurant, White Oak Shopping Center, Silver Spring

#3102 - Chinese Style Fried Chicken on Rice w/ a bowl of broth at A&J ($5.65)

For whatever reason, I've never once gotten a bowl of broth with mine, but maybe that's because I always get it carry-out.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Ever since I moved into the District from Rockville, one of the places I've missed is A&J! a typical meal for 2, when I go:

a big dish: either the fried chicken that Rocks mentioned, the cold noodles with ham/egg/bean sprouts (a great summer dish - I wish they would also make it with shredded chicken instead of ham), or the pan fried dumplings (guo tie)

Cucumbers w/ hot garlic sauce

Seaweed salad

if we don't get the fried chicken, then definitely getting the smoked chicken - they do a real good job or getting a good smoke flavor through the whole chicken.

either the sliced beef or sliced pork in sesame bread (shou bing) - kind of like a chinese sandwich

and then sometimes the scallion pancake (zsou you bing) or the steamed bun (show long bou - but these are nowhere close to being as good as joe's shanghai in NYC)

grand total for a typical feast about $15 before tax and tip.

maybe one can open up in the ever shrinking chinatown.....

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Finally made it out to the A&J in Rockville for lunch today. Let me start by saying that I expect to go to jail soon, because what you pay for what you get can only be considered stealing.

On the table --

1) shredded bean curd and peanut salad with cilantro with a heat that sneaks up on you.

2)One of the better scallion pancakes I've had

3)A giant plate of 8 pot stickers, nicely balanced flavor

4)Dan dan noodles that have to be the chinese version of the ultimate American comfort food -- mac n cheese.

For all this, two of us paid a grand total of $16.51 (before tip) and enjoyed every bite that we were able to finish.

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Do they have a website?

If not, what is the menu structured like? If I go in there, will all the choices be presented in English, or do I have to ask for a special Chinese menu?

The menu is in Chinese and English. Four of us had way more food (7 dishes) than we needed on Saturday night. Total bill was $45. We all waddled out....
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The menu is in Chinese and English.

They'll also usually provide a pencil and a paper copy, so you can simply circle the items you'd like, instead of resorting to ordering by number or by hard-to-pronounce name.

A&J is the local outpost of a popular chain with locations in Taiwan and (if I'm not mistaken) China as well. It's all small plates, quite tasty, and ridiculously inexpensive...my go-to place for non-fancy Chinese comfort food. [edit: silly me, all details that PandaHugga has already covered!]

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A&J has a website, but it's in Chinese so that probably won't be helpful to you.

The Chinese and English menus are exactly the same. The structure of the English menu: is noodles and soups on the first page, dumplings, meats on the second page and cold dishes and beverages on the last page.

(my uncle owns A&J so I'm pretty familiar with the menu, I've talked with hillvalley before about setting up a $20 Tuesday there if anyone is interested)

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I'd love to do a $20 Tuesday at A&J sometime; and yes, they have several outposts in the PRC.

Ah, but at *which* of our two local A&Js? I think there is slightly more seating in the Rockville outpost though for purely selfish reasons I'd suggest the Annandale one.

Our regular dishes include the pickled longbean dish, the szechuan wontons, pan-fried pork dumplings, the cucumber salad and either the pig's ear or the tendon. The chowpup favors the peanuts, smoked chicken, scallion pancake, pork dumpling, and passionfruit bubble tea. The Annandale locations' bubble tea is a lot better than average. The 3 of us, with bubble teas, usually leave stuffed for $45 or so.

We had a chowhound lunch there about 8 months ago and I think the total was $9 each.

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Stopped by the Rockville location around 5 pm yesterday. It wasn't crowded, so luckily no one saw me pull out my little crib sheet of all the dishes mentioned here and in Tom S.'s review.

Without a doubt the best thing was the mustard green and bean salad. I also give kudos to the pork and radish soup. My companion's spicy beef (thin) noodle soup was enough for a meal alone, but hardly spicy at all. She rated it just average, although maybe Porcupine's recommendation for the wide noodles could have made the difference.

Beware the desire to overorder. You think because the prices are cheap, the dishes won't be filling. Not the case.

I have to say my only complaint was that anything that was fried came out a little on the greasy side. The pork dumplings had a good flavor -- not the best I've had, but they're up there. And eight to an order is more than generous. Also tried the beef bun thing. Is that a finger food? I can't imagine how that could be eaten with chopsticks. Also enjoyed the smoked chicken, but again, it was pretty oily.

We washed it all down with some selections from their bubble tea menu. They're pretty generous with the bubbles, too.

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Does anyone know which location is better, and is the menu the same at both locations?

The menu is identical and the consistency is very high between the two area locations. I believe the Rockville location seats a few more people.
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Today's lunch --

Shredded bean curd with peanuts and cilantro - a little underdressed with the hot sauce and could have used just a couple pinches more cilantro, but these are very minor quibbles. I added a little rice vinegar and soy and tossed. A very nice summer starter

Cucumber salad - very nice, a little bit of heat to it. I think I prefer this to the one across the street at Joe's which can be too hot for a salad.

Pan Fried Beef Bun - i'm in love. Seriously. Think Jamaican beef patty, but better than any patty I've had in DC. Nice crispy dough around moist beef. Just be sure to lean over the plate when you bite in or you'll be wearing the juices inside. Pretend they're sliders and get a sackful.

And to beat a dead horse -- $6.77!!!

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Late lunch today by myself. My new car dealer is across the street. I guess I know when I'll be scheduling my oil changes.

Cuke Salad was perfect... bright, cool, crisp, savory, spicy but not overpowering. Smoked chicken was great... meaty, warm, moist, and just the right amount of smoke. Scallion pancake was hot and tastey. But the Dan Dan noodles (with thin noodles) didn't work for me. Hadn't I read here that this was a great rendition? Not this time. Overcooked noodles, inseparably clumped together, lying on a bland, beige, muddy sauce that tasted on nothing, and a sprinking of peanuts on top. Maybe I just don't get it.

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Went to A&J on monday with the wife. Not the first time for me, but the first for her.

Loved everything except the dumplings. Had both versions, beef and pork, but just weren't doing for me.

I did however LOVE the pork dumpling, I can't remember which one I ordered, that had the soup in it. I wasn't aware that that's what I ordered, but was delighted none the less. A large dumpling that looked like a sausage patty wrapped in dough, steamed and pan fried. I picked it up and bit into it and received a large squirt of juicy pork goodness :) I wasn't prepared but luckily I didn't take it in the face......I loved the cuke salad, the shredded pigs ear, the shredded chicken with cucumber noodles, the fried pork chop rice and absolutely loved and could eat allllllllllldayyyyyyy long-the steamed short ribs. I wasn't sure about these at first because they looked like they were covered in steamed bulgar wheat, but one melting taste....ohhhhh I was so mesmerized, I stopped talking to my wife for the 5 minutes I was eating them....then ordered another one.....

Upon reading the earlier post I realize it wasn't pork in my bun but beef....even better

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Went to A&J on monday with the wife. Not the first time for me, but the first for her.

Loved everything except the dumplings. Had both versions, beef and pork, but just weren't doing for me.

I did however LOVE the pork dumpling, I can't remember which one I ordered, that had the soup in it. I wasn't aware that that's what I ordered, but was delighted none the less. A large dumpling that looked like a sausage patty wrapped in dough, steamed and pan fried. I picked it up and bit into it and received a large squirt of juicy pork goodness :) I wasn't prepared but luckily I didn't take it in the face......I loved the cuke salad, the shredded pigs ear, the shredded chicken with cucumber noodles, the fried pork chop rice and absolutely loved and could eat allllllllllldayyyyyyy long-the steamed short ribs. I wasn't sure about these at first because they looked like they were covered in steamed bulgar wheat, but one melting taste....ohhhhh I was so mesmerized, I stopped talking to my wife for the 5 minutes I was eating them....then ordered another one.....

Upon reading the earlier post I realize it wasn't pork in my bun but beef....even better

It's the pan-fried pork dumplings (8 to a serving, the only menu item that has mentions having 8 items in case of doubt) that get the raves from most diners. Drizzle some of the vinegar onto them. But tastes do vary; we were underwhelmed by the beef patty in dough that wowed you.

You should also try the ground beef with pickled long bean. They do have the best rendition of pig's ear I've had, but I've only had it in 2-3 restaurants.

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Scallion pancake was hot and tastey. But the Dan Dan noodles (with thin noodles) didn't work for me. Hadn't I read here that this was a great rendition? Not this time. Overcooked noodles, inseparably clumped together, lying on a bland, beige, muddy sauce that tasted on nothing, and a sprinking of peanuts on top. Maybe I just don't get it.
That's funny, the scallion pancakes the time I had them were <shrug>. I've always ordered the DanDan noodles with the thick noodles. Maybe that's the difference? Not sure. I've certainly never thought the sauce tasted of nothing. Maybe an off day.
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But the Dan Dan noodles (with thin noodles) didn't work for me. Hadn't I read here that this was a great rendition? Not this time. Overcooked noodles, inseparably clumped together, lying on a bland, beige, muddy sauce that tasted on nothing, and a sprinking of peanuts on top. Maybe I just don't get it.
My +1 recently ordered the DanDan noodles and made the mistake of ordering the thin noodles. They really can't stand up to the sauce at all, and the dish was made much less great by this mistake of +1. You might want to consider giving them a try again with thicker noodles (or, make your way on to some other amazing part of the menu--I think the shredded tofu/cilantro/peanut dish is amazing).
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I was lucky enough to try A&J Chinese Restaurant (Annandale location) for the first time last night with a friend who knew virtually the entire menu by heart. It took us a little while to negotiate (because we both wanted everything), but we settled on 9 terrific dishes, listed here in increasing order of I must have this again (soon!):

5208 - Vegetarian delight w/ gluten, dry bean curd, and mushrooms (cold dish): the mushrooms were well- marinated, but I’ve never really cared that much for gluten. Non spicy, soy sauce-based flavor. Great dish if you like gluten.

4109 - Thousand-layer pancake (hot dish): it’s fun to pull this apart, but it’s a little messy and tastes mostly of fried dough (nothing wrong with that, just kind of boring). Interesting, thready texture.

4104 - Scallion pancake (hot dish): good, with lots of layers (probably the best I’ve had around here), but a bit thick and heavy. Also, I prefer to have vinegar sauce with my scallion pancake, rather than just straight vinegar and soy sauce.

2102 - Spicy wonton w/ hot red sauce (hot dish): tasty, but not very spicy. Not exactly swimming in hot oil, as you’d imagine after having the spicy baby wontons a la Chef Chang.

5102 – Sliced beef (marinated & cooked w/ bean paste) (cold dish): these slices were good wrapped in pieces of the thousand-layer pancake. Mild, flavorful, and very prettily (and thinly) cut.

5203 – Cucumber salad in hot garlic sauce (cold dish): spiciest thing on the table! Fiery and vinegary, and yet somehow cooling. Great summer dish.

5207 - Bean curd skin w/ mustard greens and soy beans (cold dish): mustard greens for the weak! The greens are diced up and doused with vinegar, so they aren’t bitter at all. Tossed with edamame and light curd skin, this mild, salad-y dish is very refreshing.

4101 - Pan-fried beef bun (hot dish): SQUIRT! Juicy, beefy inside, crispy outside, nice thin dough. Tastes like home.

5101 - Smoked chicken (cold dish): hands down the best thing on the table. Delicately smoked with both the smell and flavor permeating the meat. Large portion of beautifully-arrayed chicken slices.

At ~$16 each (for 2) with a lot of leftovers, this meal was quite a steal. Of those dishes I liked least, I would still order each one again (though maybe not all at once). Even so, I already have a whole new meal picked out for next time. This place is right down the street from me, and apparently they also serve breakfast foods on the weekends! I’m going to be in deep-fried trouble!!!

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hello-

first off, i'm new here, but I wanted to jump in on this thread because I went to A&J yesterday and I loved it (much like everyone else who goes).

I'm strangely particular to the sour cabbage dishes when I go to the less Westernised Chinese places, and I ended up getting the cabbage pickles and the sour cabbage & pork (i think) soup. The cabbage pickles were great and actually a bit more sour than I'm used to getting from most Chinese places. The soup was nice and light and actually a good appetizer given that we had a ton of other food ordered as well. We also had the pork egg rolls, which were quite good as well as the 1000-layer pancake, which is reminiscent of country-style phyllo dough (my mom uses this for pastries and some of the savory Greek pies) which had been baked by itself. It's sort of a plain dish, but I experimented by putting some of the chili sauce on it and it wasn't bad. I loved the cucumber salad in hot sauce and the vegetarian and pork dumplings were pretty good.

I'm looking forward to getting out there again soon and experimenting with more of the menu. Of course, as everyone who ever goes there mentions, the prices were outstanding: 65 bucks for the 5 of us.

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I have discovered pork and it is good.

(I come from a family that didn't eat pig products, so I am only now slowly learning about the world of pork.)

That is to say, the steamed pork dumplings > beef dumplings > vegetarian dumplings, in terms of flavor.

Also, the pork potstickers are might tasty, and quite the generous serving.

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To add to the string of recent meal posts...

Lunch for 2 at A&J yesterday:

  • Pan fried dumplings
  • Fried beef bun
  • Bean curd skin w/ mustard greens and soy beans
  • Spicy beef tripe
  • Pickled longbean w/ground pork

Total w/tax and generous tip was <$10/person.

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New dish on the menu: braised pork rice with braised egg (I think that's what they called it). The pork is ground, in some sort of reddish sauce, piled onto the rice with an entire egg (hard boiled in something that turns it brown). Sorry I can't describe it better, but it is very tasty.

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Monday RPLC included some really nice tendon, great chiicken salad with cukes and sesame sauce, some other nice stuff i cannot remember right now. The odd thing was we order one soup in a small size and it was super and then the large bowl we reordered was just so so. Szechuan beef soup IIRC. Great lunch for $12.

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Monday RPLC included some really nice tendon, great chiicken salad with cukes and sesame sauce, some other nice stuff i cannot remember right now. The odd thing was we order one soup in a small size and it was super and then the large bowl we reordered was just so so. Szechuan beef soup IIRC. Great lunch for $12.

It was the Szechuan beef soup - the larger size added the noodles. I've enjoyed this here in the past, but this trip even the smaller size was without the depth of flavor, and certainly without the HEAT that I expect from this dish. Far inferior to Joe's version.

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It was the Szechuan beef soup - the larger size added the noodles. I've enjoyed this here in the past, but this trip even the smaller size was without the depth of flavor, and certainly without the HEAT that I expect from this dish. Far inferior to Joe's version.

I have to agree with you guys on the Szechuan beef soup. It used to be spicier and more flavorful from when I had it a few times in 2006, but I just stopped by a week ago for a quick lunch and was terribly disappointed in the bowl I was served. The red-hot dumplings were still tasty and had some kick, but I doubt I'll be ordering the soup there anymore. Then again, the rest of their small dishes are still tasty, particularly their cold small plates, but for Szechuan-style food go to Joe's.

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New dish on the menu: braised pork rice with braised egg (I think that's what they called it). The pork is ground, in some sort of reddish sauce, piled onto the rice with an entire egg (hard boiled in something that turns it brown). Sorry I can't describe it better, but it is very tasty.

Usually the ground pork is cooked in a broth with soy sauce flavored with ginger, sugar, green onions, and sometimes 5-spice powder. Shelled hard boiled eggs are added to the dish and boiled for hours. It's a common homestyle dish... each time the dish is reheated, the flavor should permeate into the egg more. yummy....

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Usually the ground pork is cooked in a broth with soy sauce flavored with ginger, sugar, green onions, and sometimes 5-spice powder. Shelled hard boiled eggs are added to the dish and boiled for hours. It's a common homestyle dish... each time the dish is reheated, the flavor should permeate into the egg more. yummy....

Ahhh, thanks for the clarification.

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I have to agree with you guys on the Szechuan beef soup. It used to be spicier and more flavorful from when I had it a few times in 2006, but I just stopped by a week ago for a quick lunch and was terribly disappointed in the bowl I was served.

FWIW, I'm crossing my fingers that you and DanielK and the RPLC had unusual bad luck, 'cause I had this for dinner a few nights ago and it tasted the same as it always has, deep and dark and beefy and spicey.

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Full disclosure here-- my uncle owns A&J. I saw the recent reports that spicy dishes haven't been as spicy lately so I asked the manager (a/k/a my mom) what's going on. She said that the inconsistency in spice levels may be due to the actual chiles/peppers in the recipe. There have been no changes to the recipes. It's like when you eat a jalapeno and sometimes you get one that's really spicy other times you get ones that aren't that spicy. This happens to me a lot with banh mi.

Please let the waitress know if you feel like dishes don't taste the way they usually do, we're very concerned with consistency. Also rest assured- there is no "dumbing down" of spice levels at our restaurant for non-Chinese customers. Everyone gets the same menu and the same food :( and hopefully you all like it.

Thanks for the feedback everyone-- please feel free to PM with questions, comments or concerns. And sorry Soup- I can't reveal the ancient family recipes :(

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