This is the second post in the short series A Weekend in Our Nation's Capital, which covers the few meals I caught in DC while visiting the city for a wedding. Other posts in this series include Zaytinya (Jose Andres).
There's something about cozy, simple, and authentic Taiwanese places that just warms my heart. It's not like I grew up with these places around me (I did grow up in Northwest Ohio, after all), yet I feel a sort of nostalgia that probably comes from my Taiwanese heritage.
We had just arrived in DC and it was already pretty late. We were extremely hungry and yet had decided not to eat before arriving in DC, even though it was closer to 8PM by the time we finally sat down.
Our dear friends (who grew up in Taiwan but have been in the US for decades), took us to one of their regular haunts, a well-known chain in Asia that also has locations in Cupertino (Northern California), Irvine (Southern California), and Annandale (Virginia).*
We started out with one of my favorite dishes - this beautiful flaky scallion pancake of sorts, which I believe they call the Thousand Layer Pancake. I think in Mandarin it's called a "chua bing", which literally means a "grab" cake. I think the idea is that you can grab the flaky layers with your hands, but I'm actually not exactly sure why it's called that. (Does anyone have any insight they can offer me?)
What I can say is that this was delicious. It was crispy and flaky on the outside, yet moist and chewy on the inside. Granted, we were starving, so I'm sure it tasted even better than normal.
I love postickers that are made this way - long, sort of stuck together, and fried to a gorgeous golden grown at the bottom. These were very good as well.
Their noodles are handmade (yay!), and you can choose between thin noodles and thick noodles. Bryan loves thick chewy noodles, so it was no question we were going to get that. These had a nice chewy "Q" bite to them, and the accompanying simple sauce of ground pork was satisfying and delicious.
Even though this is a simple dish of just salted mustard greens, edamame, and tofu sheets, I love it. It's one of those dishes that tastes like homestyle cooking and just totally hits the spot. It doesn't hurt that I have a soft spot for anything made with tofu sheets.
For fun we ordered a sesame pancake filled with beef. This dish was solid as well. The sesame pancakes were flaky and crispy but not too greasy at all. The entire thing may have been just a tad dry, but overall the flavors were good (though still not as good as the best beef roll I've ever had).
We both really enjoyed our dinner here. I'm jealous of my DC friends who live so close to this place. It's simple, inexpensive, and serves up very solid Taiwanese dim sum style snacks. The handmade noodles are a huge plus - something that is still pretty rare in Boston (though there are a few places). All in all, it's a solid Taiwanese restaurant and would definitely be a welcomed addition to any neighborhood.
*To be honest, I'm not sure if these are all owned by the same people, though the type of food sold at all the A&J's I've been to are pretty similar.
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