Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Crustacean in SF: Keeping Family Secrets


Crustacean in San Francisco is a restaurant with amazing food. No one will dispute that. But, probably the best part of the place is the incredible story behind it.

The An family has built a culinary empire with several restaurants, including another Crustacean location in Beverly Hills. They’ve been featured in People Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, InStyle Magazine, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, as well as on every TV channel you can think of.

The story begins with Helene An, and her three daughters Hannah, Elizabeth and Monique. In 1975 An, a member of Vietnamese royalty, fled her home country as the Communist army descended on Saigon. She had no time to pack and barely got out with her daughters alive.

The family came to San Francisco with nothing except the secret recipes that An had treasured since her childhood. This trendy restaurant takes a Euro-Asian approach to its food, combining Vietnamese and American cuisine.

Crustacean opened in 1991 and is regarded as the birthplace of fusion food in this country. Helene An is now 85 years old and still works there. Another cool thing about Crustacean is the secret kitchen. There’s a section of the kitchen there where no one is allowed, so that the An family recipes won’t be stolen.

Some of the signature dishes that the family protects include the Sea bass in Citrus, a pan-fried Chilean sea bass in a citrus au jus of fresh oranges, apples and lemons; Helene’s Ravioli, which consists of shrimp, minced garlic and fennel wrapped inside delicate rice crepes in a soy and sesame “buerre-blanc” emulsion; Five Spice Chicken, a grilled tender chicken breast marinated in our five spices served with grilled Japanese eggplant; Vietnamese Crepes, filled with prawn meat, chicken, squash and bean sprouts and served with a tangy bean sauce and exotic greens; Grilled Baby Back Ribs, The An’s Famous Roasted Crab, Hanoi Fish and more.

For dessert, I highly recommend the Fried Banana or Fried Pineapple a la mode or the Citrus Flan. Crustacean is a wonderful experience and a must-visit for anyone who wants to go to the place where fusion food started in this country more than 15 years ago.

Crustacean is located at 1475 Polk Street and their phone number is (415) 776-2722.

About the Writer

Ed Attanasio is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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