For over a year, I have been meaning to stop by A & J for the popular beef noodle soup but always ended up in ASJ restaurant. While Meep and I went for one of our late night drives for dessert, we drove past ASJ and I mentioned how I wanted to try A&J and could not get beef noodles out of my head for the rest of the night.
It was the beginning of summer, which was prolly a bad idea to go for some spicy beef soup but I had a massive craving from the night before. So Meep and I went for some beef noodle soup with in house made noodles. When we walked in the restaurant, I was already having second thoughts about eating spicy noodle soup… the restaurant felt like a hot box…
The restaurant was actually nice and clean looking. I was almost expecting a hole in the wall because of how bad the reviews about service and other issues on Yelp, but it wasn’t so.
Menu is a simple 4 page menu with a good variety of dishes, but A&J is best known for their Beef Noodle Soup and Stinky Tofu.
Although it does not say on the menu, there are two options for the noodles – thick or thin.
There is also a set menu BUT it is in Chinese and I can’t read Chinese. Days like these I wished I was motivated enough to learn how to read/write Chinese when I was a kid.
We were given a slip of paper with the menu items to fill out but it was in Chinese as well, so I just told the waitress what we wanted.
Thousand Layer Pancake $2.95
The pancake was impressive looking. It was flaky and fell apart easily because of the uncountable translucent layers of pastry. It didn’t have much flavour other than salt and the brown crisped bits. I actually liked it dipped in the left over broth from my beef soup.
Hot Spicy Beef Noodle Soup $7
Beef was amazingly tender, without being mushy. They were cut into generous thick slices with fat/tendon throughout so it had a little chew to them. Beef was stewed in the soup for so long they were so flavourful and beef-y at the same time.
Soup was spicy (but not nose sniffling, choking spicy). The heat is from the chili oil floating on the top so could easily be removed to reduce its effect. The base was beefy, salty, full bodied and a tad herby from chinese spices. Without the noodles, it easily got overwhelmingly salty but with the thick noodles every bite was perfect.
Hot Spicy Beef Tendon Noodle Soup $7
The tendon was soft, gelatinous and everything you would imagine well prepared tendon. It is pretty tasteless without eating with the broth and could get overwhelming. If only they had a tendon AND beef option. All tendon without actually beef chunks, makes this dish incomplete.
The broth was essentially the same for both noodles, just the type of toppings were different. For both soups, we opted for the thick noodles.
The noodles were made in house. Thick, chewy (or what the chinese like to call QQ), it had a bite to it which Meep really appreciated. I preferred my noodles more cooked so I just let it sit in the soup till it became luke warm and cooked the noodles more. These noodles held up to the intense flavourful soup really well.
Total Damage: $23
Personal Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Very Good)
The beef soup were definitely very good, if not one of the most satisfying bowl of spicy, savoury and well developed beef broth. The noodles were a little disappointing but still good. I meant to order one regular beef noodle and one spicy, but I ended up ordering both spicy by mistake. Oops. It was probably not the best idea to go out of spicy beef noodles on a hot summer day – especially in this non airconditioned establishment. The restaurant was stuffy and hot and it was quite uncomfortable.
Service is definitely lacking – more like non existent. While we were there, they were having lunch so I had to walk up to them when I needed something. They were gracious and friendly to the obvious regulars and quite cold to us and a couple other tables.
Piece of advice, I urge you to order take out if you are adverse to the smell of the fermented tofu. The table beside us ordered the tofu, and the smell almost knocked me out. I had to take a few minutes for my senses to get immuned to the “rotting sewage” scent before I could go on eating. Nope, not an exaggeration – good stinky tofu is vile to the human nose.
A & J Restaurant
10893 N Wolfe Road
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 873 8298