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Feb 22, 2007 04:10 AM

Vietnamese Garlic Roast Crab History Question

Am I remembering correctly that the dish was invented by Thanh Long, at least as it's served in S.F.? If not, does anybody have the real scoop?

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  1. Did you eat there?

    The recipes for roast crab and garlic noodles are supposedly family secrets kept secret by preparing them in windowless kitchens within the kitchens of Thanh Long and its spinoffs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I went to PPQ last Saturday, and I used to go to the defunct Jasmine House with friends who live in that neighborhood. I've never been to Thanh Long or Crustacean.

      The photo is from PPQ

      1. re: Peter Cherches

        I enjoyed PPQ's version. Not nearly as long of a wait as Thanh Long's.

    2. I have a hard time believing the An family "invented" roast crab. Nobody else ever roasted crab and tossed it in garlic before 1971, really?

      It seems more like they have a good publicity machine 'cause its not like they invented something completely new like sliced bread or "foam".

      6 Replies
      1. re: larochelle

        That specific dish and the similar tiger prawns had a buttery flavor I haven't had elsewhere.

        Those dishes were really good, shame they went downhill. I guess there's always hope that they'll improve but I haven't heard a positive report in a long time.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I know what you mean. In the '80s I had some friends that lived nearby and we used to go there regularly. And its was a New Year's Day tradition for a group of about 30 of us to eat there (and get our free Thanh Long calendar). We loved it.

          But then they tarted the place up, raised the prices significantly and well, the food just isn't what it used to be -- I don't think I've eaten there in years.

          1. re: larochelle

            The decor and prices wouldn't bother me if the crab hadn't gone downhill.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Many cooks will puree the crab "butter" into the garlic/butter sauce for a unique, rich flavor.

            1. re: OldTimer

              I'm familiar with that, and the An "secret recipe" was something else.

              I suspect they used a lot of clarified butter.

          3. re: larochelle

            Word. Nothing like a good publicity machine. The same concept fueled the early popularity of In'N Outs (i.e. secret menu).

            I've been to Thang Long. Their crab is so full of MSG that it took me days to get the after taste out of my mouth.

          4. Regardless of whether they invented, it seems pretty clear that the An family popularized it and inspired other places to do it, I guess.