AnQi by Crustacean at South Coast Plaza launched a new concept series yesterday entitled “GourMondays”. On the first Monday of every month, the restaurant will present a pop-up dinner offering a lavish menu with wine pairings. A different theme will be featured each month.
AnQi’s CEO, Elizabeth An, is not only fashion and style savvy, but philanthropy is near and dear to her heart as well. She says OC has over 4000 non-profits, most are grass-roots organizations and those need exposure and support. She sees GourMondays as a “cause and cuisine” campaign and at the same time, drawing in the intense, no-holds barred foodie who is open to a unique dining experience.
To kick off the GourMonday series, Elizabeth will donate 100% of the gross sales from the first GourMonday, last night, to benefit SPIN (Serving People in Need). That means, ALL of it! Thereafter, every GourMonday will support a different OC non-profit with 20% donated to the organization.
The inaugural dinner, held in AnQi’s private room (photo courtesy of AnQi) is aptly named “Pure Indulgence”, and the 9-course menu was exactly that — a culinary journey of decadence and extravagance.
Tatinger Brut Reserve Champagne NV
I was immediately transported back about 20 years ago the minute I took the first bite of this delicate concoction of soft boiled egg topped with citrus cream and Osetra caviar. My first memory of a similar dish was presented to me by Chef Alain Verzeroli, a student of Joel Robuchon’s, who now heads Joel Robuchon Tokyo. When Alain served Robuchon’s version to me at Petrus restaurant in Hong Kong, he told me it was a Robuchon classic, and it is something I have never forgotten. Melisse in Santa Monica does one, and AnQi’s is stellar in comparison. Silky, smooth and sublime on the tongue.
Kobe Vietnamese Tartare
Gunderlock Jean Baptiste, Riesling Kabinett, Rheinhessen, Germany 2001
The second course is a true reflection of what AnQi stands for, bringing forth a perfect fusion dish. The tartare is seasoned with miso egg sauce and chimichurri, but what makes it unique is the hint of fish sauce in the tartare. It enhances the flavor without the pungency normally associated with the condiment. Traditionally, bánh tráng (Vietnamese sesame cracker) is used as a vehicle to scoop up salads while adding a textural component to dishes. Here, the more familiar prawn cracker sits in its place.
Toast with Love
Hugel et Fils, Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France 2009
This course was something I was definitely looking forward to. Comprising soy bean-cured foie gras torchon (don’t ask, don’t tell), a round of truffle brioche, a quenelle of 5-spice squash and micro vegetables, it was undoubtedly a favorite. The only sounds I heard were the muffled ooos and ahhs escaping from many mouths around me. There are no words needed.
Matsutake Garlic Soup
Kenzo Estate “Yui” Rose, Napa Valley 2013
Not simply a soup, this dish was beautiful, but to me, one of the most perfect creations of the evening. Bringing together various flavors and textures in one bite, it was one of the most tantalizing sensations in my mouth. The prawn is wrapped in noodles and deep fried — resembling a bird’s nest. Served with garlic soup infused with one of the most sought-after mushrooms in the world, we enjoyed the crispy prawn on its own, then dipped it into the luscious soup for a different experience.
Hand Rolled Noodles
Four Graces Pinot Noir, Dundee Hill, Oregon, 2011
There is no better example of fusion cuisine than this dish. One of my favorite Cantonese sauces — XO sauce — envelops tender morsels of lobster. XO sauce is a luxurious condiment, one I will often eat with a bowl of steaming hot rice. Here, a small bundle of hand-made fettucine in a rich, silky buttery sauce accompanies. Eat them separately, then together. You wouldn’t think the Cantonese dish would work with the Italian flavors, but the two meld together in perfect harmony.
La Doucette, “Baron de L” Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly Fumé, France 2009
Unfortunately, my photo does not do this dish justice. The scallop is accompanied with sunchoke puree and curry cauliflower. I was afraid the curry might overpower the delicate scallop, but it did not. The curry was mild and flavored the cauliflower without overwhelming the mollusk.
Lemongrass Wagyu Ribeye
Delas Châteauneuf du Pape, Southern Rhone, France 2010
Our final savory dish is perfectly executed at medium rare. Bone marrow adds another level of unctuousness to the meat, should you choose to enjoy them together. I was afraid that the black bean demi glace would overwhelm the steak, but it did not. An elegant plate with very refined balance of Asian and Western ingredients.
A Vietnamese snow cone, if you will, is our first dessert course. Essentially a granita with refreshing fruit and hints of mint, it is so refreshing and a perfect palate cleanser after all that we’ve eaten.
Fire and Ice
Chateau Rumieu-Lacoste, Sauternes, France 2010
Our final dessert of the evening is one we all enjoyed. Traditional banana Foster and cà phê sữa đá ice cream are prepared tableside for the finale.
The Vietnamese coffee ice cream is luscious and I devoured it quickly, wishing I had more.
This Pure Indulgence experience featured 9-courses with wine pairings at $198++ per person. Tax and tip not included. Each GourMonday will be priced differently depending on the number of courses, ingredients and wines selected.
The next GourMonday will be “China Poblano”, to be held November 3rd, and will feature a menu of Asian and Latin flavors. For more information, or to secure a seat at the table, please call AnQi by Crustacean directly at 714-557-5670.
AnQi by Crustacean
3333 S Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626