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Restaurants & Bars 2

ASJ, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, San Jose: report

david kaplan | Mar 26, 2008 06:04 PM

After posting earlier this week ( ) asking for knife-shaved noodle recs, I ended up at ASJ in San Jose for Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Tanspace's response to my post made me realize that it's Joy's style -- jagged and very thick -- that I like best, and since I'm near Foster City more than I'm near San Jose, I decided to try the handmade thick, chewy noodles in Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

I had the hot and spicy beef noodle soup and asked for the wide noodles (thinner, round noodles are the other option). The noodles were everything I hoped: firm, rough, and a little unwieldy. They were wide and somewhat flat, with irregular widths and lengths. They're the sort of noodles I prefer stir-fried rather than in soup since their irregular shape holds a dry sauce better than it holds soup, and their floppiness ends up flinging soup broth (oily dark red broth, no less) everywhere. I made a point of wearing a water-resistant coat, zipped up, over my white stainable shirt.

The soup broth was very good, too, with modest spice-heat and strong numbing-heat from Sichuan peppercorns, but the beefiness of the broth stood up to the heat. The beef itself was long-stewed, nicely marbled and melting like the best short ribs, in big slabs that stayed intact despite their softness. The bowl was topped with a half baby bok-choy.

Despite my preference for stir-fried over soup noodles, it was a great bowl.

I also had beef tendon in garlic. Though it was listed under "cold appetizers", it came hot and quite spicy. I was sated with three or four bites of the soft, gelatinous tendon, even though the portion was a generous pile, which I took home.

Somewhere -- can't remember if it was on Chowhound or another site -- people criticized ASJ for poor hygiene and rude service. Well, I thought it was spotless, and the service was almost embarrassingly nice. Here's what happened. I ordered the beef noodle soup -- not the hot & spicy one -- and what arrived was beef and noodles in an almost clear broth. I got what I had ordered; nothing was their fault; but when I made an apologetic face and explained that I thought I was getting a darker, soy-based broth, they graciously took the bowl away and made me a new one, saying "It's OK, first time." My server then gave me a another copy of the order form (you check off what you want on an all-Chinese slip), already marked with the hot & spicy beef soup, to use on my next visit.

Some details: the hot & spicy beef noodle soup is the top-left item on the third section of the order slip. Drawing an upward-pointing triangle next to the check mark is the way to indicate the big noodles (I don't know the symbol for the thin noodles). ASJ is a little hard to find if you don't know the area (I don't) -- it's in the 99 Ranch strip mall on the left-hand side as you face 99 Ranch from the street.

Thanks for all the recs.

ASJ Restaurant
1698 Hostetter Rd, San Jose, CA 95131

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