You might have to look twice to spot AJ & J Asian Bistro (2240 Magazine St., (504) 609-2282; ajjasianbistro.com).
After all, this new sushi bar and pan-Asian restaurant opened recently along a busy patch of Magazine Street in a small storefront that was previously a furniture store, not an eatery.
Once you find it, be sure to give the menu a close look, too. While there’s the usual array of rolls, sashimi and noodle dishes, AJ & J also sports some unique specialties. The “sushi pizza,” for instance, is a dice of tuna, salmon and white fish arranged over a scallion pancake under a colorful drizzle of eel sauce and sweet mayonnaise. This “pizza” had nothing on a bit of sushi bar exotica called lobster dumplings, however. The dumplings are not noodle or dough at all, but rather thinly sliced raw tuna, folded and twisted up into pouch shapes around a salad of lobster and crabstick.
AJ & J was opened in July by the same family that runs Tennou Sushi in Harvey and Umi Sushi & Hibachi in Chalmette. The name is a combination of family members’ initials (Andy, Jia Li and Jerry). In addition to Japanese dishes, the restaurant serves Thai-style curries and Chinese American-style dishes. AJ & J serves lunch and dinner daily, and it is currently BYOB awaiting a liquor license.
A taste of Bayou State beef
Louisiana may be famous for seafood, but the state also has a long history with cattle. Looking ahead, two different dining events will showcase local beef, and each has a charitable component to boot.
First up, the Red Maple Restaurant (1036 Lafayette St., Gretna, (504) 367-0935; theredmaple.com) hosts its Legacy Beef and Wine Dinner on Aug. 21. It’s part of a new series of special events at the 50-year-old Gretna restaurant since proprietor Darren Chifici took over its management in 2013. This five-course dinner will feature Louisiana Legacy Beef, a brand for Angus cattle sourced from ranches across Louisiana, paired with wines from California’s Alexander Valley. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and live music. All-inclusive tickets are $120, and a portion of proceeds benefits the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center. For reservations, call (504) 508-4211.
The following week, on Aug. 27, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse (716 Iberville St., (504) 522-2467; dickiebrennanssteakhouse.com) reprises an offbeat event it started last summer. Dubbed the Downtown Picnic, it’s a free-form tasting of grass-fed beef from the family-run Gonsoulin Cattle Ranch near New Iberia.
Tables are cleared from the restaurant’s subterranean dining room, which is arrayed with a circuit of cooking stations where chefs prepare samples of different cuts, from brisket to filet. A smaller private dining area will be transformed into the “Offal Room,” serving the off cuts, and there will be a dessert station and picnic-themed beverages, including wine on tap. The all-inclusive price is $50, with proceeds benefiting the Good Shepherd School, a tuition-free Jesuit school in the CBD. The event begins at 6 p.m. Call (504) 522-2467 for reservations.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.