“Ăn” means to “eat” in Vietnamese, and all those in attendance this past Monday at AnQi for a special lunch did just that. The occasion was the release of the House of An’s first cookbook, the stylish Ăn: to Eat: Recipes and Stories from a Vietnamese Family Kitchen. A live cooking demonstration highlighted just some of Helene An’s signature, pioneering fusion of modern, Vietnamese and French cuisine accompanied by the heartfelt tales of Helene’s daughter, Jacqueline, revealing the influence and history behind the recipes.
By: Cynthia Rebolledo
If making your own XO sauce isn’t quite your speed, you would do well to order it at one of the restaurants around L.A. that has it on the menu.
Crustacean’s ramen with XO — At Helene An’s Beverly Hills restaurant, most things run fancy. There are a thousand red paper cranes in place of a chandelier. There’s a koi pond under your feet as you walk in.
Chef Helene, Chef Tony Nguyen and Chef Ron Lee from AnQi, and my nephew Derek An (who is an up an coming chef in his own right) traveled to New York City as guest chefs at the James Beard House in May, 2015. Their menu included several dishes that I’ve featured in the cookbook, including beef tartare, French onion pho, and the vegetarian Tiato roll.
We were thrilled when Chef Helene’s French Onion Pho was chosen by the James Beard Editors as one of their favorite dishes served at the James Beard House in 2015! Read for yourself:
It should come as no surprise that the combination of two cultural comfort foods like French onion soup and pho would be a crowd-pleasing hit, yet before Helene An’s and Tony Nguyen’s Beard House dinner, I’d never encountered this intermingling of French and Vietnamese culinary traditions. Presented in an elegant, deconstructed format, the chefs asked diners to engage in the fusion of the components, including uncovering vermicelli noodles tucked into a blanched onion shell, and breaking open a petite packet of brisket wrapped delicately in dumpling skin. Once blended together, the marriage of pho’s earthy, marrow-based broth with the rich depth of the alliums of French onion soup led to a memorable, deeply flavored bite every time my spoon dipped into the bowl. —MB
Check out the Crustacean Beverly Hills Facebook page for more pictures of the wonderful evening had at the James Beard House.
Photo: © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com