CRUSTACEAN BEVERLY HILLS
SECRET FAMILY RECIPES CONTINUE TO DELIGHT
There are only a handful of restaurants in town whose name and reputation speaks for itself and sets it apart from the pack. One of L.A.’s leading culinary destinations since its opening in January 1997 has been Crustacean Beverly Hills, lauded around the world for its delicious interpretations of Vietnamese and French Colonial inspired cuisine.
Known for its awarding-winning Euro-Vietnamese design featuring the now famous "Walk on Water" entrance, a serpentine aquarium that winds through the cocktail lounge of the restaurant guiding guests to the French Colonial splendor of the main dining room, the family run business, which includes five restaurants from San Francisco to Beverly Hills, has become a culinary empire founded by Chef Helene "Mama" An, born in Hanoi, Vietnam, along with her mother-in-law Diana in California, and her five daughters, including CEO, Elizabeth An. All of their restaurants feature a version of Chef Helene An's cuisine, which is based on the principles of Eastern medicine, utilizing Asian herbs and spices to create dishes that are both healthy and delicious.
In June 2012, Derek, grandson of Master Chef Helene An and son of CEO Elizabeth An, joined the family business and is now blazing his own gourmet trails in the kitchen. The family business was originally started in 1971 with House of An, a luxury hospitality group that owns and operates AnQi, along with Crustacean San Francisco and Beverly Hills, known for its celebrity clientele, Tiato Kitchen Bar + Garden Venue and An Catering in Santa Monica, and Thanh Long, their first restaurant in the Bay Area.
Rumor has it that there’s a secret kitchen within the kitchen where only family members and employees who have worked for the An’s for more than ten years can enter. It’s there that the entire secret spices that set the An’s delightful menu items apart from everyone else are created. That’s why you’ll find many Crustacean-inspired dishes but never ones that are fully replicated.
During our recent visit to Crustacean Beverly Hills for dinner, we started with a couple of savory cocktails to start things off. Most of their handmade drinks tend to be on the sweet side, including the tasty Pearfect Harmony, Pink Lotus, made with real cotton candy, the Beverly, and Rick Shaw, but if you don’t like sweet, savory drinks, you can always order from the impressive and extensive wine menu.
Sitting inside the relaxing dining room with drink in hand, you know you are miles away from the hustle and bustle that awaits outside. You’re in another world where fine dining, excellent service and blissful flavors collide to create a fantastic night out. For most of us, dining at Crustacean will be a celebratory event since it’s not cheap, and word to the wise, be careful of their “specials” – no matter how tasty those items are, they are not on the menu and have no prices unless you ask.
We started our dinner with the special Tapas for Two, which included two egg rolls, beef skewers, tuna tacos, and shrimp lollipops. Extremely flavorful, this is a solid starter item, especially the tuna tacos and shrimp lollipops, even though this non-menu item was more pricey than we expected.
Still sharing small plates, we had the extremely savory Shrimp Toast, a fantastic dish of freshly minced shrimp on French baguette, lightly glazed and broiled, as well as the mouthwatering Crab Puff, and the Asian Pickled Vegetables, which added a nice touch of flavorful greens to the meal.
And no visit to Crustacean is possible without an order of their signature An’s Famous Garlic Noodle. Praised to no end, everyone who knew I was going to Crustacean told me this is a must-have item, and this dish lived up to its reputation and then some. Not overbearing with its garlic, this is where the “secret” spices set this order apart from all other noodle dishes. This item is reason enough to visit. Order this and drink at the bar during happy hour and you will have a phenomenal experience without breaking the bank.
For our main courses, we looked to the From The An’s Secret Kitchen portion of the menu where we went with the Drunken Crab, prepared with a whole Dungeness crab simmered in sake, chardonnay garlic and scallions. You may not look so cool with your bib on but your taste buds will definitely be in heaven. This is definitely worth sharing so don’t be too scared by it’s $41.95 price. Looking for another entrée to share, we again went with a “special” item, which was a little more expensive than we thought but the Fruit de Mere, featuring lobster and shrimp and other tasty seafood items, was out of this world. If you’re going to make it a special night and treat yourself right, you just can’t have any regrets.
If you have room for dessert, which may have been overkill on our part, I recommend the Eurasian Fritters, available as pineapple, apple or banana, dipped in batter and served warm, a la mode. Go for broke and you will relish every decadent bite.
Crustacean Beverly Hills is located at 9646 S. Santa Monica Blvd. Hours: Lunch Monday – Friday 11:30AM to 2:30PM; Dinner Monday – Thursday 5:30PM to 10:30PM; Friday & Saturday 5:30PM to 11:30PM; Sunday 5PM to 10PM. Valet parking available. For reservations call 310-205-8990 from 11:30AM to 9PM.