Hello, gorgeous! Long a celebrity favorite, Crustacean Beverly Hills has finally reopened after its nearly one-year remodel and it was certainly worth the wait.
Along with about 25 members of the media, I was invited to an 18-course, four-hour dinner experience on the eve of the restaurant’s public grand reopening on March 13.
Gone is the bright red thematic decor of the former Crustacean, which first opened back in 1997. The freshly updated space is a study in understated elegance. From the gorgeous illuminated bar wall and floral touches throughout, to the cushioned seats in a soft palette of light blues and blushes, the restaurant is outfitted with beautiful details, a welcoming new outdoor patio area and handsome servers who look like they were hired through Central Casting. One element that thankfully remains the same: the see-through koi pond beneath the glass flooring.
And, with new vegan options like a hearts of palm “crab cake,” kung pao eggplant and more, the menu has also been updated to better serve all palates. There’s also a new restaurant within the restaurant, a tasting-menu-only dining room on the upstairs level. But don’t worry, longtime fans will be happy to know chef Helene “Mama” An’s famed roasted crab and garlic noodles are still being created in her secret kitchen (except now there are vegan and gluten-free versions!)
Naturally, because many of the dishes included meat I didn’t try them, but here are some of the photographic highlights.
Take a look and enjoy!
Speaking of the bar, the new cocktails are creative, pretty and quite tasty. (Full disclosure: I’m not much of a drinker, so I only took a couple sips of each. That said, it was enough to realize these drinks are damn good.)
It was a wonderful time getting to celebrate the reopening with the fabulous An family—pictured left to right is Catherine An who also runs the charming Tiato cafe in Santa Monica, Chef Helene “Mama” An, and Elizabeth An who runs AnQi at the South Coast Plaza. These women are dynamic and so inspiring and passionate about what they do! Big shout-out to celeb photographer Ian Bailey for taking this photo.
The 18-course meal started with these tuna cigars, which are presented in actual cigar boxes. What a spectacle it was! As soon as the servers opened the box, a fragrant smokey aroma filled the air. It’s all very Vegas-esque in the best way possible. Along with tuna, the cigars are filled with macadamia nut, Vidalia onion and Tobiko caviar. This photo was taken by the talented Wonho Frank Lee because it does this dish so much more justice than the photos I took.
This is the karate salad made with kohlrabi, black truffle, crispy Kennebec potatoes and garlic blossom. Wow! Not only did I eat most of this, but I was able to sneak a few chopsticks-full of another salad across the table. So good!
Since I’m someone who eats tons of veggies, it’s disappointing when staples like eggplant are ill-prepared and end up mealy or boring. Not here! Even the meat-eaters were going crazy for this kung pao eggplant and it’s no wonder—the breaded spears of eggplant were perfectly crisp on the outside and held their structure on the inside. Plus, the seasoning was a full-on flavor bomb. Something so seemingly simple was simply mouth-watering.
I have never eaten bone marrow and I had no interest in trying this roasted bone marrow with Burgundy escargot (!!!), but I really couldn’t help but admire the presentation, specifically the peppered lime. I think it’s so pretty!
Food as art is a great way to describe the hearts of palm “crab cake” with spicy vegan aioli and vegan cream cheese. Presented on fanned plates against a wall of edible flowers, this rich and flavorful dish was my favorite of the evening and even the meat-eaters couldn’t get enough. (Although they were nice enough to let me enjoy an extra portion since I didn’t have any of the Wagyu stew or rib eye served on a sizzling Himalyan salt block!)
Another classic from Mama An’s secret kitchen: Garlic-roasted crab. I realize it’s not the most attractive photo, but it would be weird not to include a shot of this famous and perfectly prepared crustacean.
A huge thank-you to new chef Tony Nguyen, Helene “Mama” An and the entire Crustacean team for making sure that everyone who walks through the restaurant’s doors will have an unforgettable experience of fun and food! (Photo by Ian Bailey)
For more information, visit the official website for Crustacean Beverly Hills.