"Crustacean outdid themselves," Ferguson says. "Everything was so gorgeous and delicious."
Jesse Tyler Ferguson at Crustacean
Credit: Ian Bailey

Hollywood celebrities enjoy all kinds of jealousy-inducing perks, and here's one that really gave us FOMO: Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson has already gotten to taste dishes from the new Crustacean Beverly Hills, even though the restaurant is still months away from opening.

The setting was a birthday dinner Ferguson arranged for his husband Justin Mikita at their Los Angeles home last weekend. Crustacean chef/proprietor Helene An was on-site with executive chef Tony Nguyen to feed the party of 25 and offer a preview of her forthcoming restaurant.

"Crustacean outdid themselves," Ferguson says. "Everything was so gorgeous and delicious."

Passed appetizers included Detroit-style Coney dogs topped with a miso-cured foie gras torchon; chicken meatballs with a Korean glaze; tuna-poke cigars with ash made from tobiko; and spring rolls with a 26-ingredient sauce. Expect to see some of these items on Crustacean's bar menu.

Dumplings at Crustacean
Credit: Ian Bailey

Then it was for a procession of over-the-top new dishes that showcased An and Nguyen's playfulness and their love of Asian flavors and luxurious ingredients.

A royal ossetra caviar tin was served with caulifower panna cotta, petite English muffins and blinis. Sashimi surf-and-turf featured wagyu and wild salmon with yuzu-kosho ponzu, crispy garlic in oil and little potato chips. A vegan "crab cake" was made with hearts of palm. The "karate salad" consisted of kohlrabi and crispy potatoes marinated in truffles and ponzu.

And given that the original incarnation of Crustacean was a pioneering fusion restaurant, we were most jealous to hear that there were pho soup dumplings.


"Pho is a classic Vietnamese favorite and, to many, the essential Vietnamese dish," Nguyen says. "Xiao long baos are one of our favorite dumplings to eat and make. We like to combine them to make an explosive pop of flavor as you bite into the dumpling."

Another crowd-pleaser at this exclusive dinner was the Himalayan salt-block steak. Salt blocks were heated to 500 degrees and used to cook ultra-premium Japanese beef, which sizzled when it came to the table. The steak was paired with XO rice.

For dessert, there was a dairy-free coconut sorbet inside of a chocolate shell that resembled a coconut shell.

The original Crustacean closed in June after dazzling diners for more than two decades. Since then, An has been working to transform her space into two new restaurants. The first, still named Crustacean, is expected to open in December. Then there's a "mystery" restaurant on the second floor that is slated to debut March 2018.

"When I opened my first restaurant Thanh Long more than 40 years ago in San Francisco, I wasn't a classically trained chef and learned to apply my knowledge of Vietnamese cooking to a new world in a different country," An says. "I would have never imagined the place where I am today, celebrating 20 years at Crustacean Beverly Hills. Crustacean marked the beginning of my personal interpretation of Vietnamese cooking."

And now it's time for a new chapter.

"As Crustacean Beverly Hills reopens in December, I am excited to unveil a new menu that will take modern Vietnamese cuisine to the next level for the next 20 years," An says.

Crustacean, 9646 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-205-8990