Northern Dim Sum at ASJ San Jose
Besides having the best Niu Rou Mian in the bay area, ASJ San Jose also has a variety of northern Chinese style xiao chi (dim sum; small eats) items. Besides the standard shui jiao (水餃 water dumpling) offerings and the so-so Xiao Long Bao, it offers the open-ended pot stickers.
This style of guo tie (鍋貼) was made famous in Taiwan in the early days by the restaurants residing on the Chung Hua Rd that literally sat above the tracks near the Taipei train station. Hence, this style of postickers are now sometimes specifically touted as Chung Hua Rd style Pot Stickers (中華路鍋貼).
I fondly remember, as a child, having the best pot stickers here and also the best Peking Ducks there. The area was also near the best Niu Rou Mian shops around Taoyuan St. These areas were populated by old veterans that fled from the mainland and brought their hometown Chinese cuisine onto Taiwan. The best Peking Duck, the best beef noodle, and the best pot stickers were all found in these neighborhoods on the west side of Taipei, near Ximending. Some of these neighborhoods have long disappeared, such as Chung Hua Rd shops above the train tracks which were literally torn down. But some of the food has survived, such as the open-ended pot stickers, a style now revered as the best representation of guo tie.
ASJ’s version comes with 8 pieces in an order. The skin is handmade and chewy and fried to a nice crust. It is thicker than water dumplings as it should be. The filling is ground pork with scallions. It is juicy without being overly oily with good flavor. I like the filling and and overall feel better than the ones at Joy. I find Joy’s filling just a little too much. (Grade: A)
Beef patty (niu rou xian bing) is also good here. Also called “Chinese Hamburgers” by some, it is basically a flat ground beef patty encased within a flour “bing” or pancake. Be careful in biting into this as the hot juices will spill out, similar to XLB. The beef mixed with scallion patty is fragrant and smells wonderful. Together with the thin wrapper, it has similar mouth feel to the pot stickers. (Grade: A)
I don’t recommend cutting it into pieces like I did as all the wonderful juices will flow out. But do be careful in making sure you don’t get scolded when biting into it.
Upon seeing that the menu also served stinky tofu, I had to give it a try. The version here is the steamed version, not fried small squares ones. The steamed stinky tofu is usually even more pungent, or “fragrant” depending on your taste, than the fried version. ASJ’s however was not as fragrant as I expected. The taste is more similar to regular tofu than a real good stinky tofu. It was a good showing to have this available on the south bay. But I suspect others such as Spices up in SF will/should have a better version. (Grade: B-)
So overall, I really enjoyed the pot stickers and beef patty here. Along with the wonderful beef noodle, this place holds promise as one of the best Northern Chinese (with Taiwanese influence) restaurants in the bay area.
1698 Hostetter Rd # D
San Jose, CA