I’ve had a love hate relationship with AnQi ever since it opened. Love the decor, don’t quite love the food. Through the years I’ve been back several times and each time, my thoughts and feelings have stayed pretty much the same …… that is, until now. I recently came for lunch with a bunch of friends and was surprised that I actually enjoyed my meal this time. We all took turns ordering something and the following was the meal we experienced. Surf & Turf Roll ($13) were sushi rolls with wagyu beef, spicy tuna, delta asparagus and chili aioli. On the menu it sounds messy, neither here nor there, but it definitely tasted rather good. Chicken Potsticker ($8) were good with scallion and a balsamic fig sauce. The wrapper wasn’t too thick and the filling was nicely seasoned. I wasn’t too keen on ordering pho here, but I didn’t say no. I’m partial to pho-ing in lil Saigon and anywhere else just doesn’t seem right. However, Traditional Vietnamese Pho ($9) — we ordered both chicken and beef — wasn’t half bad. The broth could have been deeper and richer, but it sufficed. The rice noodles were a tad overcooked resulting in them being soft, but the bean sprouts helped add some crunch to the bowl. Vietnamese Crepe Salad ($13) was one of my favorites. Banh Xeo as it is known in Vietnamese, this crepe is stuffed with chicken and pork ragout, bean sprouts and beech mushrooms and topped with quinzoi herb, sweet chili gastric, charred frisee, sliced okra, red and yellow peppers and beech mushrooms. The complexity of all the flavors combined together is quite impressive. I like how this dish includes other vegetables you wouldn’t find in traditional banh xeo such as frisee. The Misoyaki Butterfish ($23) was also absolutely delicious. The pairing of Bhutanese red cargo rice was genius. I love butterfish (black cod) and this was very well executed. Unfortunately, An’s Famous Garlic Noodles ($10) is still not one of my favorites, but everyone else seemed to like it. The bo luc lac, or Flamed Tossed Cubes of Filet ($19) was very flavorful, although not 100% authentic. Served with jasmine rice, the beef is tossed with broccoli, as well as white button mushrooms. I’m not ordinarily a dessert eater, but Vietnamese Banana Fritter ($9) was ordered for the table to share. Even with the blood orange caramel, it wasn’t overly sweet. Of course, I loved the home made vanilla bean ice cream served alongside.
This is my last giveaway of the year. Christopher Gialanella, Publisher of Riviera Magazine is offering one of my readers (plus a guest) the opportunity to lunch at AnQi with him (along with me), in 2014. The rules of this giveaway is: you must be following Christopher, Riviera and me on Twitter, leave a comment on this post with your Twitter handle, and you will be entered into the competition. Entries must be submitted no later than midnight on Dec 25th. Good Luck!!
AnQi by Crustacean
Costa Mesa, CA 92626