contact 10893 N Wolfe Rd/Cupertino, CA 95014/408.873.8298
price <$10 (CASH ONLY)
Taiwanese food is one of those things that I crave all the time. Maybe it’s the Taiwanese in me or maybe it’s because I miss Taiwan so much or maybe it’s just because I love Taiwan. Whatever it maybe, Taiwanese food is delicious and unfortunately difficult to find in the US. One of my favorite places to go to satisfy my craving is A&J’s in Cupertino.
A&J’s is a Taiwanese restaurant with actual branches in Taiwan. Food is ordered on a checklist that each table is provided with when they sit down. Be warned, this checklist is completely in Chinese. For those who don’t read Chinese they’ll provide you with a Chinese/English menu as well, but you have to order on the checklist. Many a time have I seen poor non-Chinese people trying to match the characters they see on the English menu to the Chinese characters on the checklist. The A&J’s in Cupertino seems to have more English speaking workers, but in Irvine I feel like the mix and match Chinese character game is more likely.
I always start out with some 小菜 (small dishes, kind of like snacks or appetizers). First thing I usually order is 麻辣黃瓜 (cucumbers in hot garlic sauce, $3.25). I love it. It’s crunchy, a little sweet, spicy, and refreshing. I like to save some and eat it with my main dinner, to give it a little extra crunch. Dan always likes the 皮蛋豆腐 (thousand year old egg with tofu, $3.65), but they were out that night so we got 香菜豆干 (dried bean curd with cilantro and peanuts, $2.25). We had never gotten it before, but it was pretty tasty. Cilantro with dried bean curd is really good for some reason; they compliment each other.
For my main dinner, my favorite thing to get by far is the 紅燒牛肉麵 (hot and spicy beef noodle soup, $6.75). I’m not sure why they call it “hot and spicy” because it really isn’t, but that’s what they have it as on the English menu. I always get it with 細麵 (thin noodles), but you can get it with 厚麵 (thick noodles). I just prefer noodles that aren’t so chewy. Beef noodle soup is a popular Taiwanese dish. In Taipei there is a store that has the best 紅燒牛肉麵 ever. It’s hard to come by places that have really good broth, to me at least. A&J is by no means the best beef noodle soup I’ve ever had, but it’s my favorite beef noodle soup I can get in the US. The broth is rich, but not too salty or oily which I’ve found many places to be. The beef tendon is usually pretty good too. I’m getting hungry just talking about it.
We also always order either 蔥油餅 (onion pancake, $2.75) or 抓餅 (thousand layer pancake, $2.75). This time we decided to order the 抓餅 (thousand layer pancake). It was great. Perfectly flaky, not too oily, and fresh, just the way it should be. It’s great when you order the beef noodle soup too cause you can dip the pancake into your soup.
Sometimes we’ll order something else at random just cause we’re hungry. Dan was hungry so he decided to order some 小龍包 (steamed soup dumplings, $2.95). One order comes with four dumplings. They’re filled with a pork filling and aren’t bad, but they aren’t great. You could get better somewhere else.
Overall you can easily eat a meal for two here for about $20. Service isn’t amazing, but I mean, the more authentic the worse the service. It’s not that they completely neglect you, but if you don’t speak any Chinese good luck trying to get someone’s attention. Oh, and don’t forget cash, the don’t take cards. For Taiwanese food, I’d recommend it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite places to eat.