“I love the friendships that I have made throughout the years. We treat our customers like family and hope that our restaurants are considered their ‘home away from home.’”
It may sound like a movie plot – strong-willed women lose everything in their native country of Vietnam, barely escaping the Fall of Saigon aboard a C-41 military cargo plane. They settle in foreign America, only to build a successful culinary empire. This isn’t fiction; it really happened. Founded by grandmother Diana An, joined by daughter-in-law Helene An, followed by Helene’s daughters, and now, her granddaughter Bosilika An, the AN family culinary empire continues to expand.
Today, House of AN is comprised of a full catering division, a Los Angeles Times celebrated cookbook – AN TO EAT – and five unique restaurant concepts, the most famous being the flagship Crustacean Beverly Hills, featuring modern Asian cuisine, which recently reopened following a 10-month grand renovation.
“With the newly renovated Crustacean, we set out to have the best of both worlds,” says CEO Elizabeth An, daughter of Master Chef Helene An. “We kept all of our signature classics and incorporated cutting-edge whimsical dishes to the menu. From antique hand-carved Indochine sliding doors to modern architectural steel beams, new Crustacean is a homage to old meets new and is a salute to our different generations.”
The result is a glamourous indoor/ outdoor dining experience that centers around a carefully curated menu. For instance, the Tuna Cigar — toro tuna and avocado silk, rolled in feuille de brick, and topped with caviar to mimic a cigar – is served in a cigar box that emits a plume of hickory smoke. “Our modern Asian menu incorporates an interactive approach,” Elizabeth says.
Since first opening a modest delicatessen in the Bay Area in 1971, the AN Family has become synonymous with their legendary AN’s Famous Garlic Noodles™. The family matriarch, Master Chef Helene An, was the first to introduce Vietnamese cuisine to mainstream America, and also has been acknowledged as the “Mother of Fusion Cuisine,” as recognized with the prestigious 2019 Pioneer Award from the Smithsonian Museum.
Today, at the age of 75, Chef Helene still prepares her most closely guarded recipes in the enclosed Secret Kitchen™, which is off-limits to all but an inner circle of House of AN’s extended family members. Rumor has it that even Oprah was not allowed into the Secret Kitchen on her most recent visit.
“My mother’s culinary philosophy focuses on the Yin and Yang of cooking,” Elizabeth says. “Mom believes food should not only taste good, but must be good for you. She studied Eastern medicine. She understands how to use Asian herbs and spices in her cooking to create a well-balanced and flavorful menu that is also rich in antioxidants and immune enhancing.”
Crustacean is known for its power lunches, when time is limited but quality cannot be compromised. Celebrity guests have included Magic Johnson, Heidi Klum, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga, Anne Hathaway, Yao Ming and more. Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and Jamie Foxx have all spontaneously played the piano at Crustacean’s bar and lounge.
Coming in October of 2019, House of AN will introduce its newest concept, Đà Lạt Rose, above Crustacean Beverly Hills. In celebration of Chef Helene’s life and legacy as a pioneer in Vietnamese cuisine in America, Đà Lạt Rose will be the AN Family’s first Vietnamese tasting menu restaurant. This forty-seat haute dining concept seeks to redefine the limits of traditional Vietnamese cooking once more. Under the direction of Bosilika An, Elizabeth’s daughter, Đà Lạt Rose “will be a tribute to my grandmother and her amazing life,” Bosilika says.
When asked what’s next, Bosilika, Director of Development, says, “For over 25 years, our clientele has asked House of AN to open concepts overseas and we are pleased to announce that we are exploring locations abroad. Asia is of much interest.”