July 15th, 2012, 10:58 am · · posted by GUEST
In fact, in an industry overrun with open kitchens, where diners can watch chefs perform their culinary wizardry, secret kitchens seem to buck the trend.
The House of An doesn’t really care about trends, and their customers are just fine with AnQi’s secret kitchen.
We’re not kidding; the restaurant on the Bloomingdale’s end of South Coast Plaza has a secret kitchen that it is off-limits to patrons and employees alike. Only members of the An family are allowed in the secret kitchen, which has a window that is usually fogged over to prevent anyone from finding out how they make their legendary garlic noodles or their spectacular roasted crab dish.
The garlic noodles are available every day, but that heavily seasoned, two-pound Dungeness crab ($48 in shell, and $52 out of shell) is on the Tuesday-night menu only. And trust me, if you don’t reserve a crab or two in advance, you will likely be shut out because they sell out every week. I met a couple who have had the crab dish at least 50 times, they told me, but forgot to reserve one on a recent Tuesday and were disappointed. They consoled themselves with their second-favorite dish – the filet mignon potstickers, and insisted afterward that they were completely satisfied. The couple said they have had the same crab dish at the AnQi’s sister restaurant in Beverly Hills (Crustacean), and said the Costa Mesa price tag is a bargain compared to the mother ship.
AnQi still has a lively and generous happy hour, which they call the “Red Hour,” and it extends from the regular Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m., hours to a late-night Red Hour on Fridays, from 9:30 p.m. until 2 a.m.
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