Restaurant: Crustacean Beverly Hills
Location: 468 N Bedford Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 205-8990
Date: May 3, 2019
Cuisine: Vietnamese Fusion
Rating: Still great
A couple months ago while at OOToro my Hedonist group dined with Catherine An of Crustacean and she invited us to come to her place to experience it Hedonist style.
I haven’t been to Crustacean in maybe 10 years — not exactly sure why — other than maybe that it’s pricey, as I do love Vietnamese food. So it’s about high time I get back there and give it a good testing and write up.
We had (most) of the private room. Technically Crustacean had a big remodel since I was here last, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember how it was before. It’s upscale attractive now — still sort of late 90s high end restaurant in vibe, which is way less industrial than most newer places.
Our special giant tasting menu.
2004 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. VM 97. The 2004 Brut Cristal has put on quite a bit of weight since I first tasted it earlier this year. It is a powerful, structured Cristal layered with considerable fruit. Chardonnay seems to play the leading role in 2004, at least today. Cristal is often accessible young, but that is far from the case here. This is a serious, painfully young Cristal that will require considerable patience. Readers who are willing to spend some time with the wine today will find a super-impressive, complete Cristal.
2004 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 97. A wine of nuance, precision and understatement, the 2004 remains all grace. Time has softened some of the contours, but the flavors remain fresh and vibrant. Medium in body, the 2004 can be enjoyed now or cellared for several decades. This is a gorgeous showing from the 2004, a wine that has been captivatingly beautiful from the first time I tasted it years ago. There is something effortless about the 2004 that is hard to capture with words. The 2004 doesn’t quite have the obvious breeding of the 2008 and 2002, nor the obvious power of the 2003 or 2006, and yet it is harmonious, sublime and totally sensual.
2008 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 98+. The 2008 Dom Pérignon is fabulous, but quite remarkably, it was even more open when I tasted it a year ago. Bright, focused and crystalline in its precision, the 2008 is going to need a number of years before it is at its best. Lemon peel, white flowers, mint and white pepper give the 2008 its chiseled, bright profile. Several recent bottles have all been magnificent. What I admire most about the 2008 is the way it shows all the focus, translucence and energy that is such a signature of the year, and yet it is also remarkably deep and vertical. In other words, the 2008 is a Champagne that plays in three dimensions.
2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 96. A wonderfully layered and nuanced nose features an intense yeasty character to the maturing fruit that displays interesting phenolic characters, in particular petrol, along with aromas of apple, pear and soft citrus hints. In contrast to the nascent maturity expressed by the nose the flavor profile is still tight and backward with a genuinely gorgeous texture, all wrapped in a strikingly persistent and highly complex finish. For my taste the 2000 Brut is at an inflection point as the nose does offer enough maturity so that it’s really quite pretty whereas the palate impression is substantially younger. As such it really just depends on how you prefer your Champagne because I suspect that the nose will be very mature by the time the still very youthful flavors attain their majority. For my taste preferences it would be no vinous crime to begin enjoying this now but be aware that this will age for a very long time. The best approach is probably to buy 6, or even 12, bottles and enjoy them over a longer period of time.
Champagne caviar flute. There is a bit of buttery toast for scooping it up.
The “it” is a creamy stuff with caviar and foam. Delicious.
Tuna Cigars. Instant Smoke, Feuille De Brick, Avocado Silk, Vidalia Onion, Tobiko Caviar.
They were packed with dry ice.
These were really delicious. A bit like the classic Wolfgang Puck tuna cone. Complex salty/sweet flavors. Yum!
From my cellar: 1993 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 92. A fully mature and expressive nose of elegant secondary fruit and floral aromas introduces intensely mineral-driven, pure and beautifully well-detailed middle weight flavors that possess excellent depth and fine length. This is drinking perfectly now and should continue to do so without effort for at least another decade. Tasted only once recently.
2012 Faiveley Montrachet Le Montrachet. 95 points. Actually guessed both the vineyard and the producer here (the wine was served by the importer); proud was I. Surprisingly advanced wine, very rich, smooth, layered, long with notes of honey, butter and some confit d’orange. Great wine, rich – and too young, I think.
This wine needed TIME! But was amazing.
Surf and Turf Sashimi. A-5 Wagyu, Crispy Garlic, Purple Potato, Tabasco Chili Ponzu.
Crispy Garlic, Purple Potato.
A-5 Wagyu, Tabasco Chili Ponzu. Yummy bits of succulent beef.
2004 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. BH 93. A mildly reduced nose features honeysuckle and acacia blossom notes introduces sweet, rich and beautifully complex flavors of impressive purity and vibrancy with brilliant length. A terrific effort that has the hallmark softness of Pucelles while retaining a firm and tangy, indeed almost linear finish that displays more minerality than usual.
Braised Lamb Dumpling. Tom yum jus, galangal, Japanese Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Puffed Rice.
With the jus — which was basically the broth from Tom Yum soup — delicious.
Marcassin — I can’t read the vintage.
2014 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes. BH 94-97. There is enough wood to notice along with a hint of menthol on the markedly earthy red and dark berry fruit aromas where background hints of spice and floral elements are in evidence. The overtly powerful and concentrated broad-shouldered flavors display almost painful intensity before culminating in an explosively long and very firmly structured finish where once again a hint of bitter cherry appears. This is an interesting wine of contrasts as the mid-palate, even with all of its intensity, possesses a caressing palate feel yet the finish is bold, robust and unyielding. As the description confirms, this is going to require a long snooze in a cool cellar.
agavin: NOTE that the start drinking date on this wine is 2031!
From the “Secret Kitchen”:
AN’s Famous Garlic Roasted Dungeness Crab with AN’s Famous Garlic Noodles. This was a special personal version of the crab and noodles. I remember when I first came here that you had to pay an extra few dollars for them to crack it! But now that’s included if you like. We didn’t have to crack it at all. The meat was delicious and so were the noodles.
So good. Great by themselves, and even better with the crab.
1978 Gaja Barbaresco. VM 92. Dark red. Gaja’s 1978 Barbaresco is a study in contrasts. The nose suggests a mature wine, with aromas of leather and cocoa dominating, although on the palate the wine shows generous amounts of dark fruit in a concentrated style with much persistence, length and the structure of the vintage. My impression is of a beautiful wine that lacks the balance to be a truly great wine.
2005 Château Pape Clément. VM 97. The 2005 Pape Clément is a fabulous contrast to the Haut-Brion. The former represents modernism at its best, while the latter is one of the archetypes of classicism. Both are striking. Compelling and seductive from the outset, the 2005 Pape Clément races out of the glass with notable opulence and ripeness. Soft contours and heady aromatics make the 2005 a real joy to taste today. Just beginning to show the first signs of aromatic complexity, the 2005 Pape Clément looks like it won’t be as long-lived as some of the other wines in this tasting, but it is extraordinarily beautiful today. The style is unapologetically flamboyant, yet all the elements are in the right place. When it comes to pure hedonistic pleasure, it’s hard to match the 2005 Pape Clément.
2006 David Arthur Cabernet Sauvignon Elevation 1147. VM 91. Bright ruby-red. Very ripe and aromatic nose combines cassis, blueberry and complex soil tones. Lush and pliant in the mouth, with a restrained sweetness to the nuanced flavors of dark berries, mocha, chocolate and earth. Tactile and broad wine with very good inner-palate energy. Finishes long, with a positive medicinal quality.
More Marcassin I can’t identify.
“Cha Ca” Broiled Red Snapper Banh Mi. Spicy Aioli, Traditional Banh Mi Pickles. A slightly fancy looking version of the very traditional Vietnamese fish with herb salad. I had this in Vietnam, at the very old school Phong Dinh, and recently even in somewhat different form at fusion Khong Ten. It was good in all cases, and certainly delicious here! I really like the turmeric thing.
2013 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. 91 points. I don’t pay much attention to these Cabs.
2014 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain. VM 92. Graphite, smoke, incense, lavender, plum and sweet French oak hit the palate in La Jota’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Chris Carpenter has done a tremendous job in crafting a Cabernet that is both deeply expressive of Howell Mountain, but with enough sweetness in the tannins and overall juiciness to drink well with minimal cellaring.
Landing spot for the next course.
Himalayan Salt Block Ribeye. Horseradish Crema. Great steak.
‘XO’ Garlic Fried Rice. Poached Egg, Pork Belly XO. So good!
We had to get more XO!
Kungpao Eggplants. Thai Basil, Thai red chili gastrique. Not as good as a great Szechuan version, but still enjoyable.
Steamed garlic broccoli.
Let the good times keep on rolling.
Oh boy — Calvados!
Coconut sorbet with blackberry. Not made by me. Intense coconut flavor. No dairy, so not super creamy.
Yarom with Catherine and a friend.
And Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos.
A trio of crazy gelatti I made:
Reimagining an old flavor Cocoa Samoa Gelato — Coconut dairy base, new super delicious formulation, house-made caramel and Valrhona chocolate ganache, with Girl Scout Samoas — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Crazy Choco Caramel Nostalgic Goodness! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #coconut #caramel #samoas #girlscoutcookies
Chocolate Orange Pistachio Gelato — my classic 63% Valrhona chocolate base but with orange infused milk, and laced with house-made Bronte Pistachio Valrhona Gananche — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Just say it again: Bronte Pistachio Valrhona Ganache — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #pistachio #orange #chocolate
Moscow Mule Sorbetto — new highly technical sorbetto made with lime, cucumber, ginger beer, and Stoli Vodka — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — yeah, there is actually a lot of vodka in here — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #MoscowMule #lime #cucumber #GingerBeer #Stoli #vodka
Coconut Dream. Fresh Coconut Flakes, Rum Syrup, Creme Chantilly, Vanilla Creme Anglaise. This was a dream — loved it.
Warm Beignets. Vietnamese Coffee Creme Anglaise. Also great.
Chef Helene’s Classic Banana a La Mode. Turbinado Brulee, Baileys, Caramel, Tahitian Bean Ice Cream.
Pineapple Financier. Brown Butter, Oat Honey Streusel, Creme Fraiche Cremeux, Dole-Whip.
Warm Chocolate Cake, Raspberry, Vanilla Wafer which then
gets this made up:
Signature Table-Side Ice Cream. Nitro vanilla ice cream.
Passion Fruit Pavlova. Pavlova, Tropical Fruit, Strawberry Gel, Coconut Sorbet.
And the crazy wine lineup.
Overall, this was a kingly evening. Boy did the Ans treat us right and we had an incredible menu, amazing service, and great wines.
Discussing the food analytically. Very good, and most dishes varied from good to great. Best being the fish, crab, and cigars (plus some of the desserts). The Vietnamese influence is far more subtle, less heavy handed, then at most newer fusion places like Little Sister / LXSO or the more contemporary small plates style Khong Ten. Definitely more roughly 2000 in formal fine dining style — which I don’t mind at all. In some ways it feels like a millennium event fine dining place with Vietnamese — and to a lesser extent Thai and Chinese — notes. It’s a pretty fancy place, and priced accordingly — but they do knock it out of the park.