Even though Irvine is packed with Chinese people, the Chinese food is still inferior to that in the San Gabriel Valley. The SGV is more like bleeding Chinese people, so that probably explains the difference. This was my first time at A&J which is a Taiwanese restaurant, I think. They serve dumplings, noodles, small cold dishes, fried pork chop, etc. All the things that those little rascals from the island formerly known as Formosa love to eat.
Cucumber Salad hot garlic sauce
I think I was expecting a more pickled taste, but these were more sweet and spicy than anything else. Oh, they were also garlicky.
Spicy Wonton with Hot Red Sauce szechuan style
I absolutely love the version of this at Din Tai Fung. These were actually quite good here too. There could have been more filling to the wontons, but overall, pretty tasty with just the right amount of heat.
Spicy Beef & Tendon Noodle Soup
There wasn’t anything particularly special about A&J’s version.
Jia Jia Mien
I’ve had better jia jia mien. Seems like everywhere you go, the jia jia mien is just slightly different. Some places make it heavy on the bean paste, other places heavy on the spices. Some places don’t include vegetables. I’m not sure I like the varieties with cucumbers. I think it tastes funny. We choose to get the wide fresh noodles instead of the thin noodles like in the previous dish. Triple T and Smooth Obturator felt the wide noodles picked up the sauce better. I thought the wide noodles were too chewy and distracting.
Pan Fried Pork Dumplings
These were surprisingly good with a golden fried crispy skin and a meaty filling inside.
I usually love a good beef wrap, but this was the most disappointing dish of the night. I expect tender slices of beef shank, slathered in hoisin sauce, with a gentle sprinkling of scallions and cilantro all wrapped up in a onion pancake. The onion pancake is usually rich, unfortunately oily if not eaten fresh, with delicious layers of oniony carbo heaven. The wrap was the complete opposite of greasy. It was dry, stale, cold, and entirely unedible. I picked out the filling and ditched everything else.
A&J has mostly solid eats. If you’re craving some noodles and dumplings and not willing to make the drive up the SGV then A&J is gonna be your best choice. There was a little bit of a wait when we arrived on a Saturday, but it was definitely more manageable than the wait at Shik Do Rak and Taiko next door.
14805 Jeffrey Rd, Ste D
Irvine, CA 92618