South Bay: ASJ Restaurant

My family has been going to ASJ Restaurant for years now, since when it was still called Ban Mu Yuan.  We used to walk over for soy milk and you tiao (Chinese donut) breakfast.  During summer breaks when my parents were at work and my sister and I were left to fend for ourselves for lunch, we would walk over for some beef noodle soup.

Then I went away to college and we stopped going.  When I came home to visit, ASJ just never really topped my must-eat-before-I-go-back-to-school list.

After moving back to the Bay, I got caught up by nostalgia one day and dragged my mom to ASJ:


Nothing's really changed.  Same decor, same waitresses, same menu.  You still order by ticking off what you want on a paper menu and you still pay by walking up to the counter once you finish eating.

My family orders the same thing every time we go to ASJ (when not for breakfast).

We get the jajang noodles (thick, of course):


Gotta mix it up to get a bite of everything:


And I always order the rice plate, either the fried pork cutlet (shown here) or the fried chicken cutlet:


It comes with a bowl of soup that tastes like dish washing water.  Set that aside and focus on what's really important...the rice.  Forget even the pork cutlet.  What I loved as a child (and still love now) is the rice.  It comes with a meat sauce, which you can't really see because it's under the pork, and this:


This is my favorite part of the rice plate.  Suan cai or "sour veggies" is basically fermented Chinese mustard or Napa cabbage.  ASJ uses Chinese mustard.  It's sour and slightly sweet and goes perfectly with rice.  My mom and I overhead another table asking for an extra dish of suan cai and we immediately asked for one too.  Two decades of going to ASJ and we never knew that we could ask for extra suan cai.

Sigh.  So many wasted years.

For a little extra something, we ordered the red oil wontons:


The red oil wontons at ASJ aren't spicy at all.  They're more peppery than anything.  Each wonton is tiny so even though the bowl is small, there are a lot of the little buggers in there.  Not the best red oil wontons I've ever had, but decent.

Since I've rediscovered ASJ, my parents and I have gone back multiple times.  While it can't even remotely claim to serve the best Chinese food in the area, there's something comforting about ASJ.  But that may be just my childhood memories talking, so don't take my word for it.


ASJ Restaurant
1698 Hostetter Rd
San Jose, CA 95131
(408) 441-8168

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