Food & Drink
FOOD: A & J Restaurant in Rockville, MD
by Powell Bernhardt
Dim sum, anyone?
After a day of service with several co-workers, I found myself craving some authentic Chinese food. The District’s Chinatown and all her national chains does little to satisfy my selective palate. So after doing some investigating, I ended up trekking out to A & J Restaurant in strip mall haven also known as Rockville, MD.
Named by several magazines and newspapers as one of the area’s best Chinese restaurants, A & J serves Northern Chinese dim sum. Unlike Cantonese parlors, these dishes are much larger and everything is ordered from the menu as opposed to being swiped off of passing carts. I sipped on a hot cup of tea and ordered a few treats.
Next up, the dan dan mian (noodles). To quote Phonte in The Roots gem “One Time”, “But once you’ve had the best, better ain’t as good.” The thick noodles were good but this comes from someone who has had the same dish at one of the country’s best Chinese restaurants that is also Bourdain-certified, Han Dynasty in Philly. I felt like it was toned down for American customers and would have preferred more of the spicy sesame sauce.
The crusty cong you bing (scallion pancake) had a nice flavorful doughy interior. The last dish to arrive was a bowl of heaven, the cai ro wonton (Shanghai-style ground pork and vegetable wonton soup). The seemingly simple yet complex broth full of huge noodle wrapped goodies was perfect.
During the era of fusion-style restaurants, A & J Restaurant pays homage to tradition. It is truly a gem where the focus is totally on the food. If you plan to visit, remember that this restaurant is cash-only.
A & J Restaurant
1319 Rockville Pike