D.C.’s Most Valuable Restaurants

A&J

1319 Rockville Pike, Ste. C, Rockville; (301) 251-7878

VALUABLE FOR: Delicious Chinese small plates with no attitude (and it’s cheap)

This cash-only strip-mall gem is a pleasant reminder to look past Rockville’s boring chain restaurants. An ideal Sunday-morning destination for a full-on Northern Chinese-style brunch, A&J is best arrived at with an empty stomach and no prissy attitudes about ordering only for yourself, since everything comes family-style. Kick off with a bowl of piping hot dan dan mien—thick noodles dressed with a spicy sesame sauce. The steamed pork buns are fluffy clouds with a satisfying umami bomb of swine at the center. For more of the other white meat, order the tubular pot stickers. Griddled golden on each side, they crackle when you bite into them to reveal a core of juicy ground pork. Dip them in soy sauce if you prefer, but like most dishes here, they pack enough flavor to stand alone.

Read my three other picks – Sundevich, Negril, and Middle Eastern Cuisine – and the rest of the rundown over on the Washington City Paper site now.

Photo by Premshree Pillai on Flickr.

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