Location: 468 N Bedford Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 205-8990
Date: Spring 2021
Cuisine: Vietnamese Fusion
Rating: Return after long hiatus
For one of my first post-lockdown post-vaccination ventures out went to Crustacean, both an LA landmark and owned and operated by our friends the Ans.
We’ve had a couple awesome meals here in the last couple of years.
For extra caution in these uncertain times we ate on one of their fabulous patios.
Our special menu.
From my cellar: 2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. VM 99. The 2008 Cristal is one of the most complete, most dazzling Champagnes I have ever tasted. A stunning wine from any and all perspectives, the 2008 simply has it all. Spherical in construction, with superb persistence. The 2008 takes hold of all the senses and never gives up. One of the many things that makes the 2008 special is a combination of ripe fruit and bright, piercing acidity. Marzipan, lemon confit, dried flowers and orchard fruit all build into the explosive, resonant finish. “We learned from the mistakes of 1996, when we picked more on acid than ripeness, as was the norm in Champagne back then” Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon told me recently. “In 1996, the best fruit turned out to be the last picks, where the fruit was physiologically ripe. Today, we aim to pick all our fruit with that criteria.” (Drink between 2020-2050)
Blinis & Caviar. Tomato “Salmon” topped with meyer lemon vegan aioli, “vegan caviar”, fresh dill sprig, 2k gold. Nice contrast of flavors and textures, particularly for vegan.
2007 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 96. Taittinger’s 2007 Comtes de Champagne will be nearly impossible to resist upon release. Soaring aromatics, mid-weight structure and soft contours give the 2007 its alluring personality. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint, chamomile and green pear add brightness and freshness throughout, with a persistent, clean finish that makes it impossible to resist a second taste. Today, the 2007 comes across as a slightly more open version of the 2004, with freshness that makes that wine so appealing, and a touch of textural richness that recalls the 2002. Although the 2007 does not have the explosive energy or verticality of the profound 2006, it will drink better earlier. The 2007 has been positively brilliant on the three occasions I have tasted it so far. (Drink between 2018-2047)
Tempura Tiato. Tombo Tuna and Fresh Lime. Very tasty, hint of a spicy finish.
2008 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. BH 96. Here too the elegance of the nose is simply stunning with a layered and perfumed aromatic profile trimmed in an almost invisible touch of oak that allows it to ooze Chablis character and in particular, a fine minerality that continues onto the impressively concentrated and palate staining flavors that possess striking precision on the explosively long and bone dry finish. This is a great Les Clos that will make old bones. (Drink starting 2015)
Spicy Pacific Yellowtail Sashimi. Drip Calibrasian Chili Sauce, Snow Pea. A bit like the Nobu Classic yellowtail with Jalapeño.
2008 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé La Grande Dame. 96 points. Very refined expressive nose displaying subtle red and yellow fruit, raspberry, pomegranate soda, light caramel, cooper, a hint of cedar, rose, perfume and oyster shell. Already showing beautifully integrated sophisticate palate, finely layered subtle pale red fruit, very fine generous mousse, precise and beautifully detailed, bright acidity, strong seashell mineral, and a seamless long pale red and yellow fruit driven finish with caramel and oyster shell at the end.
Tempura Chicken Oyster. Kafir Lime Salt. Amazing soft and tasty bite of fry.
From my cellar: 2002 Gros Frère et Sœur Grands-Echezeaux. BH 90-93. While not really intrusive, the oak treatment is still visible on the otherwise expressive nose of spice, earth and black fruit aromas that are still completely primary in character. The big-bodied and muscular flavors are not particularly elegant though there is good size and weight to them, all wrapped in a reasonably long finish where wood tannins can also be discerned on the mouth coating backend. In sum, this is a good but not great Grands Ech. Tasted twice recently with consistent notes. (Drink starting 2014)
2012 Domaine Maume-Marchand-Tawse Mazis-Chambertin. BH 91-94. Here there is a much better wood versus fruit trade off that allows the black cherry liqueur, lavender and plum aromas to shine. The opulent and beautifully concentrated broad-shouldered flavors brim with dry extract on the intense and mineral-inflected finish that exhibits superb length where the wood resurfaces. This serious old school effort should be excellent in time though note that plenty of cellar time will be required.
Shaken Filet Mignon Skewer. Grilled over Binchotan Charcoal with House Pickles. Lollipop version of the French Vietnamese classic.
The big guy with the most senior An.
1982 Château La Lagune. JG 94. Though La Lagune is listed as a wine from the Haut Médoc, I have always thought of it as really a wine from Margaux, as it lies just outside of the communal boundary there and stylistically, shares much with the wines of Margaux. The 1982 vintage of La Lagune remains the very finest year I have ever tasted from this consistently outstanding property. Today the wine is drinking at its apogee, but still has decades and decades of life ahead of it, with the superb bouquet offering up scents of black cherries, cassis, French roast, cigar ash, some gently roasted fruit elements, dark soil and a touch of toasty new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and absolutely velvety on the attack, with a sappy core, lovely focus and grip and a long, meltingly tannic and opulent finish.
1989 Château Margaux. 94 points. Beautiful rich cherry and red fruit, plush nose; rich, plush, elegant red fruit, plum and espresso; long finish.
1996 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. VM 94+. Bright medium ruby. Deep, superripe aromas of dark berries, black cherry and bitter chocolate; slightly exotic crystallized fruit aspect. Dense, sweet and wonderfully rich; a lovely combination of palate-caressing chocolatey fruit and firm underlying structure. Finishes with excellent grip and great palate-saturating sweetness. Another outstanding 1996 Medoc wine in the making.
Array ready to be finished.
A5 Wagyu Pho. Aromatic broth, ginger, scallion. Very very subtle and lovely.
From my cellar: 1996 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. 94 points. A lovely Perrières that is gracefully straddling the fence of freshness and maturity. A trace of fruit is joined by nutty, mushroomy tertiary notes. A real delight.
Alaskan King Crab with An’s Famous Garlic Noodles. These are so good. The noodles are simple, but to die for.
2003 Colgin Syrah IX Estate. VM 93. Good medium red. Aromas of black fruits, violet, licorice and bacon fat complicated by pepper and herbs; one can sense the heat of the vintage. Juicy, tightly wound and rather powerful, with its salty, penetrating dark berry and licorice flavors showing good energy and a serious tannic edge but still evolving. (Winemaker Tauziet referred to the wine’s “hot/cool aromas and flavors.”) Production in 2003 jumped to 250 cases from 2002’s 100 cases, but the estate nonetheless dropped a lot of crop in ’03.
2011 Colgin Syrah IX Estate. VM 93+. Bright dark ruby. Reticent aromas of black fruits, peppercorn, fennel and licorice showcase the coolest vintage to date here. Offers lovely density of flavor and texture if less sweetness than most of these vintages. A distinctly salty, backward Syrah with hints of menthol, maple syrup, beef and pepper. Strong natural acidity accentuates the wine’s impression of dryness. This very young wine went into a shell in my glass and will need at least three or four more years in bottle to harmonize. According to winemaker Allison Tauziet, almost all of the Syrah fruit was harvested before the rains started on October 4, and the latest-picked block was eliminated from the blend. A very Old World style with a light touch–and a complex, strong wine from this cool, late vintage. (Drink between 2021-2030)
2001 Marquis Philips Shiraz Integrity. 94 points. jammy dark fruit and a hint of chocolate mint with a long smooth finish. This is surprisingly good for its age.
2016 Moone-Tsai Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Black List XXI. 97 points.
Prime Rib and Mongolian Lamb. Yarom clearly had an influence on this dish. But super tender and delicious.
XO Garlic Fried Rice with Poached Egg and Pork Belly. This is pretty insanely good.
2018 Château de Rayne-Vigneau. VM 92+. The 2018 Château de Rayne-Vigneau is just missing a little intensity on the nose compared to its peers; even leaving it aside to open, it remains recalcitrant. The palate is much more expressive, offering orange pith, apricot, mango and a touch of wild honey. Nicely proportioned on the finish, although it needs 3–4 years to subsume the oak and for the aromatics to get their act together. (Drink between 2024-2048)
This is a signature Sweet Milk flavor — Italian Lemon Cookie Meringue Pie — Limoncello Zabaione base with lemon cookie flavor mixed with Italian Lemon Creme Cookies and Sicilian Candied Lemon and topped with house-made toasted Meringue — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #lemon #LemonCookie #cookie #Sorento #Limoncello #Meringue #LemonMeringuePie
Heavenly Coconut. Coconut Cake and Vegan Coconut Sorbet. Very lovely. Lots of good coconut flavors.
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. 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.