10 QUESTIONS WITH CHEF HANNAH AN
CHEF TALKS NOODLES AND CRUSTACEAN FAMILY SECRETS
For anyone who grows up in a successful family business there are two usual schools of thoughts—tow the family line or branch out on your own. For Chef Hannah An, the eldest daughter of the famous Crustacean Restaurant's House of An family, the family business has been delighting the palates of diners for years.
For nearly twenty years Crustacean’s beloved famous garlic noodles has inspired and delighted patrons and has also stirred up debate about its secret ingredients. Well now Hannah An has gone solo and opened up the The District By Hannah An on posh Third Street as she embarks on her own adventure. Her ‘District’ serves a modern take on Vietnamese food incorporating a global twist and California’s local and sustainable fresh ingredients.
The District by Hannah An offers authentic yet elevated Vietnamese cuisine. Frequented by celebrities and trendsetters, the Vietnamese hot spot delivers the goods with Hannah’s Dungeness Crab & Uni Noodles served with chive and Vietnamese herbs. It’s rich and decadent and delicious.
"I aspire to host the most elaborate dinner party for our family and friends every night," Hannah An explains. And with her specialty noodle dish along with her simple signature noodles she has proven that there’s definitely room in this foodie-driven town for scrumptious noodles. Below are ten questions with Chef Hannah An about the family business and the secret to creating mind blowing noodles.
How long had you been planning to open your own restaurant?
I thought of the concept for The District by Hannah An on my last trip to Vietnam in June 2014. During my trip, I not only visited my son who was doing an internship there but also visited the different districts of Vietnam, which inspired me.
Because restaurants are the family business, how supportive was your family about you opening your own restaurant?
I wanted to create and have a restaurant on my own so I could have the freedom to be creative without any influence, however, when I need their help I just ask.
Did you always know you would have your own signature noodle dish on your menu?
Yes! I love being creative and coming up with new dishes all the time. Since The District is very close to my family restaurant, I always want to make sure that I do dishes differently so that our customers who enjoy our cuisine have more choices to choose from.
A lot has been written about the secret recipe of the Crustacean Garlic Noodles. How did you approach creating your own noodle dish?
I know the secret recipe and have been making them all my life, but it was really fun coming up with a new idea and ingredients when making my signature noodles and sauce.
How are your noodles different than Crustacean and other An noodle dishes?
The texture and ingredients are different; I use more Vietnamese herbs and spices in the flavor.
Why did you choose to use uni noodles? An excellent decision by the way.
I love uni! It has a buttery taste.
Were you ever worried about meeting expectations and comparisons to Crustacean’s garlic noodles?
No, I don’t look at it that way. I enjoy giving a new twist to noodles and giving our customers more choices.
Please talk about your Signature noodle dish compared to the Crab and Uni Noodle entree dish.
My signature noodles do not have the uni. They are not as rich in flavor. Instead, they are lighter. I use a citrus base for the sauce.
How hard was it to come up with the final noodle recipes?
It was not easy because my garlic noodles are so good to start with. I had to think outside of the box and not use any of the ingredients that I use on the original noodles.
What do you hope guests take away from eating your noodle dishes and from their dining experience at The District by Hannah An?
My Philosophy for my cuisine is as follows: Vietnamese cuisine is about having a balanced meal and balancing the five tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and bitter. My hope is that when guests order dinner at The District by Hannah An they have at least two proteins, a carb, noodle, or rice dish, and vegetables to enjoy and taste all of my flavors. I also want my guests to experiment the herbs, spices, and flavor of Vietnam. It is how I incorporate and interpret the traditional flavors to Modern Vietnamese Cuisine and to the American palate.
The District by Hannah An is located at 8722 W. 3rd Street. Open daily. Call (310) 278-2345.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy: The District by Hannah An