Talk about a family traditions. The An family (House of An) has been making people happy with their Vietnamese / Asian food across California since 1971. I was first introduced to them via my brother, Paul, at the Thang Long installation in San Francisco, where he raved about the famous roasted crab and famous garlic noodles. This is a dish you can’t be afraid to get in and get dirty. The dungeoness crab is roasted with a garlic sauce. A large part of the fun is to get in with your hands and crack the crab, and suck the savory bits off the shells. It’s delicious fun.
There are also sister restaurants: Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, Tiato in Santa Monica and AnQi in Costa Mesa with 4 An family sisters manning the individual kitchens with their secret recipes, overseen by matriarch Helene An.
Tuesday’s is the only day that AnQi in Costa Mesa offers An’s Famous Roasted Crab, so we actually extended our trip to partake. We couldn’t help ourselves but go for lunch… and dinner, giving us the opportunity to try some of their small plates and appetizers as well.
AnQi is a beautiful place. It is much higher end than we expected.. but then we were in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. The interior had red lights, indoor trees, and hanging lights. It was a stunning interior. It’s a very Euro-Asian design.
For the purposes of this review I will combine the various courses we had at both lunch and dinner. In summary, there wasn’t a bad meal there. It was all good. Where I had expected to love the crab… I actually enjoyed the appetizer dishes (like the fabulous calamari) even more. Not that I didn’t enjoy the crab.. it was an experience unto itself.
The calamari was lightly fried and very tender, crispy on the outside and nicely seasoned. The little bites of fresno chili and scallions added a nice kick… and the thai basil aioli was just the ice cream on top.
The seared ahi tuna salad was fresh and crisp. I loved the crunch of the cucumber, carrot, basil, and cabbage. The soy – chili sauce that accompanied it made for a wonderful spicy dressing. Very nice fresh tasting dish.
The Crustacean shaken beef with sautéed Chinese broccoli with Chef An’s secret sauce was perfectly cooked, tender and wonderfully flavorful.
Then there was that crab.
The crab was just an adventure. It was a good thing they sat us in the corner… where we could just go at it and tear apart and devour the succulent tender crab from it’s garlicky shell. It was delicious… and good fun.