Recently Jake and I took a little side trip up to Irvine. Whenever we go up north we try to check out a new restaurant and this time around I choose A&J Restaurant in Irvine, CA. We left San Diego early to beat any early morning traffic and got to A&J Restaurant just before they opened at 10AM on a Sunday. We noticed that people went inside before 10AM and so just copied them and took a seat.
A&J Restaurant is small to medium sized place in one of the shopping plazas in Irvine.
Here’s the menu! On weekends at this Irvine location they serve breakfast!
The other side of the menu.
They give you a slip of paper so you can place your order, but everything is in Chinese. I decided to think of it as a “matching game” to match the prices and Chinese characters together. Our waitress did come by and confirm our order and read everything back to us and helped me find a couple of items I forgot to add.
We went given complimentary hot tea to drink. It was delicious!
[chinese churro / $1.85]
I only ordered one item off the “Breakfast” menu and that was this Chinese Churro. Mostly I wanted to eat noodles but I wanted to at least check out one breakfast item! This is basically just like eating fried puffy dough. It wasn’t sweet or oily. It was just unflavored dough, haha. I liked dipping it into our sauces to give a bit of flavor. It had a nice light flavor with a crunchy outer shell and a chewy interior. Best used to dipping into other things.
[noodles in spicy sesame sauce topped with peanut powder / $5.95]
Hooray, homemade noodles! They have two types of noodles to choose from at A&J Restaurant: thin noodles (like these) or thick noodles. I asked our waitress what we should choose to get and she said thin for this dish and thick for the other noodle dish we ordered.
Here are the sesame noodles after I rigorously mixed them together. These had a sesame sauce on the bottom and peanut powder on top. These were a bit spicy but not “burn your lips off” spicy. The spiciness didn’t linger in your throat but it made my mouth feel a little tingle. This was a tolerable amount of heat for me and the sauce was really good. I really preferred the thick noodles over the thin so in the future I’d get thick noodles for all of our noodle dishes. Jake really liked these as well and this was our favorite dish!
[noodles with ground pork, bean sprouts, and shredded cucumber / $7.50]
I wanted to try another noodle dish as well and went for the ground pork, bean sprout, and shredded cucumber dish.
Here’s my sad attempt at trying to lift up the noodles with chopsticks and take a photo at the same time… fail.
Our waitress came by and offered to mix up the noodles for us and she did. Jake and I loved the texture of these thicker handmade noodles! They had a great consistency, texture, and mouthfeel. They were nice and chewy and tasted wonderful with the pork/sprouts/cucumber mixture. These are also not spicy and saved me from a the burning sensation of the sesame noodles. Ha.
[pan fried pork dumplings / $7.95]
Of course we had to try some dumplings, too! This style of dumpling reminded me of another place we visited called Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House where they have these long, rectangular dumplings. These dumplings had a nice fry on the bottom (maybe a tad too long?) and the flavor of the meat was okay. They were juicy but they could have used a bit more seasoning. The wrapper on this dumpling was a little on the loose/chewy side as well. I felt like they fell apart a little too easily. They were not too bad but not as good as the ones at Hui Tou Xiang.
[beef rolls aka chinese beef wrap / $9.50]
At A&J Restaurant these beef rolls are referred to as “Chinese Beef Wrap” on the menu. This is one of the items I wasn’t quite sure what it was called and asked our waitress about.
Jake and I really like beef wraps! They’re kind of like Chinese burritos since the outside always looks like a tortilla to me (it’s not – it’s more like a crispy thin dough). These had a nice amount of beef and onions and a bit of sauce. They were on the sweet-ish side due to the tasty sauce they use for the beef rolls. I love this mix of beef and onions! It’s always why I want to order this dish. This was a pretty fair offering for beef wraps, but again, not the best Jake and I have had.
[pan fried beef bun / $1.95]
One last thing I wanted to try was their pan fried beef bun. It comes out looking nice and crispy!
One bite of the beef bun though and the juice came flowing right out! Lucky for me I bite into this over the plate otherwise I’m pretty sure all of those juices would have been all over the front of my shirt instead. This tasted like an asian burger that was wrapped in pastry dough. But an unseasoned asian burger as it had very little flavor besides the green onions that were mixed into the meat. This dish was quite disappointing and not something I’d recommend. I did dip my Chinese churro into some of those beef juices though!
All in all Jake and I did enjoy the food here – particularly those thick noodles! We’ve had better versions of a few things here but we were still thrilled to try something like this that’s a little closer to home than the restaurants a bit further north. I would definitely return for more sesame noodles though, that’s for sure!
14805 Jeffrey Rd. #D
Irvine, CA 92620