I remarked to a friend recently, that Americans are really bad at regions.
It’s a variant on my old chestnut that Americans don’t do tribes. We’re horrible at it.
We tend to use bland terms like Chinese Food as a singular umbrella that can describe all things to all people, when the reality is so much more deliciously complicated than that. When you say Chinese Food, are you talking Cantonese, Mandarin? Are you talking Hunan or Szechuan? Do you want Hot Pot? Do you want Northern style dumplings?
Ask the same of an American, “Where can I get some good American food” I’m sure you’ll get the same puzzled look. Well, what do you mean exactly??
Then there’s this whole other matter, that quite a number of the people we might think of as Chinese who live in the San Gabriel Valley are actually Taiwanese.
How else to explain the avalanche of Beef Noodle Places, and the presence of my favorite food event in the world: the 626 Night Market, a distinctly Taiwanese treasure.
You probably wouldn’t notice A&J Restaurant sitting in the midst of an otherwise undistinguished Strip Mall. It’s sign doesn’t blare at you form the street. It’s food isn’t something so exotic that every foodie in a 1,500 mile radius is banging on their door. No, I think A&J’s charms are quieter than that, it’s ambitions smaller. (And yes, that’s a very good thing, especially for you.)
A&J is decidedly unsexy (again, this is a good thing). Their primarily clientele are local folks, people who know a good Beef Noodle Soup when they try one, but are also looking for stuff on the menu itinerant Food Bloggers might not try on their first go through.
They’re also a Cash Only establishment, helping keep the prices in the inexpensive to tolerable range.
Their menus is straight ahead and old school: Beef Noodle Soup, Clear Broth or Spicy. Fried Pork Chops, Fried Chicken, Dumplings. Take your pick, you’ll be fine anyway you go. If you didn’t know, it looks like a straight ahead Carry out place as well (yeah, they do some of that business as well.)
If you’re in the mood for Beef Noodle Soup, and…if you’re anything like me, when aren’t you in the mood for Beef Noodle Soup…A&J’s should be on your list. You should come in, get in on the rhythm of the place, get yourself some soup, and…something else. Wander a bit along the menu. If anything else, that’s what’s going to get you to come back again…and hopefully again.
I did not listen to my waitress.
Nope, she sized me up in two seconds, and suggested Spicy Beef Noodle. Having just survived my latest experience at Sinbala, I was looking for something a bit cooler, so when went with its decidedly non-spicy cousin, the regular Beef Noodle Soup. It was good, don’t get me wrong, just came with less of that burst of sunshine than the Spicy version.
I also tried their Pork Dumplings, where also weren’t bad. Imagine, taking a Pork Lule Kabob, and wrapping it in a dumpling. That’s kinda what the flavor and texture was like. Quite good. Quite large as well. Next time I get the Pork Dumplings, someone better be there to help me with them.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: This is the part where I remind you that A&J is a Cash Only establishment.
PARKING: Free and Plentiful. A&J Restaurant is part of a Suburban Strip Mall complex hosting a CVS. So bottom line, lots of free parking. Just depends on how close to the door you get.
27 Las Tunas Dr
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 445-7270
Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm