Elaine Tang, co-owner of Annandale’s A&J Restaurant, admits she was surprised when her restaurant won a RAMMY for “Best Brunch of the Year” last weekend.
“We were kinda shocked when we won the award,” Tang told FFXnow. “We’ve been in this area for many years, so we have a lot of repeat customers. And I think they love this style of food.”
The Taiwanese-Northern Chinese dim sum restaurant, which has locations in Rockville, Maryland, and on Markham Street in Annandale, was the only eatery with ties to Fairfax County to win a RAMMY this year. All in all, five restaurants with county ties were nominated.
Since 1982, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) has handed out awards (RAMMYs) to D.C. area restaurants for various categories at their annual awards gala.
This year’s rendition took place on Sunday (July 24), when A&J Restaurant took home the “Best Brunch” award.
The breakfast menu is only available on weekends and consists of traditional northern Chinese and Taiwanese morning fare like sticky rice rolls, morning biscuits, flaky scallion pastry, and salty soybean milk. The rest of the menu — items like pan-fried pork dumplings, homemade noodles, and crisp cabbage — is also available during the weekend brunch.
The family-owned restaurant began in Taiwan in the 1970s, when Tang’s uncle opened a restaurant in the capital city of Taipei. Then, the family took it to Los Angeles before expanding to the D.C. area in the 1990s.
Today, Tang heads up both the Rockville restaurant, which opened in 1996, and the Annandale location, which began serving in 2000.
Tang says it took some time for the community to find A&J, but once they did, it has become a favorite.
“It was first mostly Asian people, but gradually more Western people discovered us,” she said. “They like our food and now keep coming back.”
She says it can be pretty hard to find restaurants serving this type of breakfast in the area and is happy to be not only one of the few, but also one of the best.
Tang’s niece Elaine, who helps run the Los Angeles restaurant, concurs that the team was “quite surprised” with the win.
“It is nice to see the Restaurant Association widen their scope and look to restaurants such as ours to be included in this year’s nominees,” Elaine wrote in an email to FFXnow. “We have been working hard for decades now to make a good and consistent product that people continue to come back for.”
As was the case for many local restaurants, A&J was hit hard by the pandemic, but they have survived so far and are now doing “okay,” Tang says.
There are no current plans to expand A&J in Fairfax County. The mission is, simply, to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the last 26 years in Annandale.
“We welcome everyone to our restaurant to try and see if they’ll like it,” Tang said. “I’m sure they will really like it.”
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