1475 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 | 415.776.2722 | website | facebook Last week I was invited to a welcome dinner at Crustacean Restaurant as the local area chief for a new online service and community called Chowzter, which is dedicated to finding the 7 best Fast Feasts for every city on the planet. A worthy cause indeed and if you have any suggestions to include for the Bay Area, please send them my way! They were in town for the 2013 North America’s Tastiest Feast Awards where they counted down the 50 tastiest items and revealed their picks for the top 7 of them all. I was able to meet some of the staff, as well as a number of North American area chiefs and most importantly, attend the kickoff dinner which fortuitously allowed me to consume large amounts of the signature roasted garlic crab and garlic noodles that the restaurant is known for. You know I just tried to make the garlic crab last week which you can read about here. I’m off to an exciting start to our local crab season! We began at the bar with some drinks and enjoyed a feast of asian fusian appetizers while we mingled and talked shop, which for everyone is our collective obsession with food. Here are fried shrimp chips, each one was topped with elegantly thin slices of Norwegian salmon and garnished with sundried tomato, capers and garlic aioli ($9.95). Seared Ahi Tuna ($11.95), was crusted with coriander dust and served with a bit of arugula salad and an attractive arrangement of the classic Vietnamese condiments hoisin and chili (sriracha) dipping sauces. The textural interplay of the cool, raw interior flesh that melts in your mouth surrounded by the seared exterior which obtains a tender meaty and charred feel was quite good. Vietnamese Carpaccio ($10.95) thinly sliced raw beef with a spicy lemon vinaigrette, asian basil, sliced red onions and peanuts. A vibrant Asian take on a classic european dish. Classic old school pupu platter fare: Crab Puffs, ($10.95) minced dungeness crab marinated with cream cheese sauce wrapped up in a wonton shell then deep fried. Served with a creamy peanut-mustard sauce Once we were seated, people continued to order appetizers! Helene’s Ravioli ($19.95), shrimp minced garlic and fennel wrapped inside delicate rice crepes in a soy and sesame beurre blanc emulsion. It reminded me of the dimsum dish of shrimp rolled up in rice paper sheets, but then served in a very rich and decadent sauce. Lobster roll ($10.95) in crispy phyllo wrapper accompanied with strawberry and kiwi vinaigrette. The fried phyllo wrapper had a nice crispy crunch, although I couldn’t really discern a strong lobster flavor, it was delicious rolled up in the accompanying lettuce leaves with fresh herbs along with pickled vegetables and dipped in the pungent sweet and salty fish sauce. The Crustacean Shrimp Toast ($10.95) were fresh from the broiler, minced shrimp forms a savory paste on slices of french baguette. Before the stars of the evening showed up, we were given plastic bibs and then and we each received our own Roasted Crab ($50)! Big burly dungeness crabs roasted with the An’s garlic sauce and secret spices. They included the tops with the best parts left intact for those who enjoy scraping the rich innards from the shell. The wide shallow bowl was filled with at least a quarter inch of the buttery sauce, that I liberally dragged all of the cracked crab through before placing in my mouth… a mandatory step I tell you. The An family is super secretive about their recipes, particularly the noodles, which are cooked in a concealed kitchen within the main kitchen, that is off limits to all employees except the An Family and their most trusted chefs. The secret kitchen dishes come out of a pass-through window to the wait staff. Along the table were platters of An’s Garlic Noodles, egg noodles infused with An’s famous garlic sauce ($9.95). The noodles are remarkable, sweet and savory, a bit nutty, the lightly aldente noodles taste rich and decadent with just a light coating of the complex garlicky sauce. We each got a nut cracker that was a vital tool to break the shells apart so you can extract the delectable chunks of crab. It was very a messy affair, requiring numerous paper towels and I admit that I found myself eating with my hands as it was too hard to keep wiping my hands clean so that I could use the fork to pickup all of the crabmeat that I had extricated. Fortunately, we received steaming hot towels to clean up with at the end of the meal. I’m still dreaming of this view… Thanks Chowzter for a fabulous start to an epic weekend!