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Crustacean-inspired Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab Recipes

Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab
Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab pictures (8 of 8)

If you live in the Bay Area or the Greater Los Angeles Area, I am sure you have heard of–and most likely dined in–the famed Thanh Long Restaurant and its better known sister property Crustacean. Their signature garlic noodles and roasted crab not only won over food critics, foodies, and aficionados alike, they also help launched a multi-million restaurant empire (counting 3 and growing!) for the An’s family who hailed from Vietnam. The legacy lies in the “Secret Kitchen”–a completely enclosed kitchen within the main kitchen, off limits to all employees, where the family members churn out the legendary garlic noodles and roasted crab, using secret recipes that were passed down for three generations.

I had dined at Thanh Long in San Francisco many years ago and really enjoyed the garlic noodles and roasted crab, but it’s not until this week that I reacquainted myself with them. This time, the location was Crustacean Beverly Hills; the dishes ordered were roasted crab, grilled tiger prawns with garlic noodles, and Maine lobster with garlic noodles.

Crustacean-inspired Garlic Noodles and Roasted CrabThe taste of the garlic noodles was exactly what I remember. In my honest opinion, their roasted crab was too dry for my taste (I think the crab was boiled and then roasted in the oven hence it lost all its juicyness). The lobster garlic noodles was good, but not spectacular. The best dish was definitely grilled tiger prawns with garlic noodles. The sweetness of the grilled prawns complemented the garlic noodles perfectly. Everything ordered that night was also a tad too salty. Anyway, I was still smitten by their foods, and most importantly, intrigued by their “Secret Kitchen” and secret family recipes.

I resolved to figure out the secret recipes, using none other than my taste buds and keen eyes. I examined the remains of the roasted crab dish–cracked black peppers, check; coarsely chopped garlic, check; butter, check; exotic spices, maybe but I couldn’t find any evidence. I also packed a box of garlic noodles to go, for further examination at home.

I think I’ve got most things figured out. Maybe.

So, I spent hours in the kitchen yesterday, perfecting my version of Crustacean’s garlic noodles and roasted crab. I added the seasonings little by little, trying to get as close to the original taste as possible. I have no doubt that my recipes and techniques are somewhat different from the secret recipes, but there are really not that many “secret” ways to prepare garlic noodles and roasted crab. I think my garlic noodles and roasted crab are as good as they get compared to the originals at Crustacean, at a fraction of the cost/price! (One order of garlic noodles cost US$11.50 and the roasted crab is US$41.95.)

As to the myth of “Secret Kitchen,” I will say that it’s more for smart marketing than its practicality.

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123 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Kenny Mah // Life for Beginners

    What an incredible combination… I’m now imagining all sorts of new combos with the garlic noodles… simple enough even for me to manage! ;)

  2. Julian Hsu

    Oooh, I’m looking forward to this! I also tried to make the garlic noodles, but I lack keen eyes and tastebuds.

    My result was not something I’d blog about. :P

  3. Manggy

    Ooh, good-lookin’ crab there :) (Sorry about your dry crab experience!! I feel so bad just reading about it!) Can’t wait for the recipe! :)

  4. didally

    Wow, roasted crabs, it’s the first I heard of, really. I love crabs! And to pair it with garlic noodles, i think it’s fantastic.

  5. worldwindows

    Dry or disintegrating crab meat is terrible. The reason is what you have mentioned or crabs that were defrosted.

    In Ho Chi Minh City there are many shops serving excellent crab claw noodles. You can have it with ‘bun’, vermicelli etc. The claw is from the male crab. It’s engorged and juicy. It is the best part of the crab and I was told it’s cholesterol free! Not sure on this but want to believe it.

    As for the garlic the best for stir-frying and garnishing would be the small and tiny ones. It can be found in Thailand and Vietnam. The fragrance and taste is out of the world.

  6. Christine

    B –

    This looks amazing and perfect! I might do this using regular smaller crabs since my budget seems to get tighter every day. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Annie & Nate

    Bee, we love garlic noodles. We dream about the roasted crab from Thanh Long that we had a long time back. It’s so expensive. Thanks for doing the hard work and working out the recipe.

    Can’t wait to try it when crabs are back in season.

    • Slavaska

      Chicken bouillon comes in cubes or powder. It is a dried version of stock, you dissolve it in water. If you can’t find powder, use cubes. Maggi makes bouillon cubes.

  8. Joy

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the garlic noodles at Crustacean. Just Amazing. Your dish looks equally as delicious! You’ve got my mouth watering and I think I want to call Crustacean to make reservations right now!

  9. "Joe" who is constantly craving

    i love all things garlic..definitely will throw in more garlic n olive oil in my pasta now!

  10. Nguyen Family Circus

    OMG….i can’t wait to try your recipe. It looks sooooo yummy!

    What is the name of that fresh noodle do you recall?

  11. mtan

    I used to go to the Daly City branch of Thanh Long to devour a crab and soak the rice with the sauce… all that garlic and pepper mixed with the crabby fat flavor. Will have to make those garlic noodles soon!

  12. diana

    Crustascean restaurant garlicky noodle I think consists of Maggi sauce, garlic, and French butter- Frentel- Demi-Sel ( in red can, in dry aisle shelve & available in any Asian supermarkets). Try it and see if this version also closely match to their.

  13. [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    Garlic noodles!

    Pray tell, what genre of noodles were used for the garlic noodle dish?

    Egg or wheat?

  14. Vern

    I have tried this receipe a couple times and it is ‘Good’ actually ‘Very good’. Only issue is it is too ‘salty’. Most likely from the chicken bouillon (which I will cut in half next time). Also, you can buy garlic olive oil so you don’t have to blend it yourself. Makes it less sticky.

  15. Anonymous

    I’ve tried this dish and have to say it’s pretty darn close to the real deal. In fact, my guests and I prefer this recipe over Crustaceans. However, the noodles didn’t come out to what we expected; cooks fault most likely. This recipe was quick and easy for a relatively amateur cook. Thanks for the recipe.

  16. Anonymous

    The crab was just as good, if not better than the restaurant. I have been there many times, and when this came out of the oven…I swore I was at one of the restaurants. This is stuff you actually have dreams about.
    On the other hand, the noodles were far from the original. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. Very good. But not Crustacean good. When someone gets a recipe that is as close…please email me. I would love it.

  17. dennis

    As a former employee of Crustacean (SF), I can tell you that the “secret kitchen” consists of a bank of microwave ovens, vats of margarine, lots of MSG, and frozen crab. Ask around, you’ll hear the same from others. It tastes good, but don’t eat too much of it.

    • Loren

      Thank you for the verification Dennis…I knew most of this however, I envisioned them throwing live crab in the Microwave…your versions better….

  18. Anonymous

    Thanh Long Restaurant in Sydney, Australia is actually one of my favourite pho restaurants located in Bankstown. Seems the restaurants who are named ‘Thanh Long’ serve very delicious foods.

    The crab garlich noodle looks very insteresting and it makes me drool just by looking at it!

  19. Anonymous

    I tried this recipe over the weekend. Turned out great! But, help! I can’t get the crab smell out of my house! What to do??

  20. Anonymous

    Thank you soooo much! Because of this post, I believe I have perfected the Garlic Roasted Crab! The technique is to steam the crab just until the shell becomes pink. Then chop it up into smaller pieces and do everything else. But you’re right, if you leave it in the oven for too long or boil it too long, then it loses its juicyness. As far as the noodles, I have yet to find a good brand b/c fresh noodles is hard to find. Anybody have any suggestions?!

  21. naomi

    i’ve seen other recipes that attempt to replicate the noodles that call for a touch of brown sugar and a dash of fish sauce, fyi.

  22. Paula

    Just found your website last week and haven’t stop browsing since. awesome pictures and recipes….just wondering what kind of noodles did you use for the garlic noodles.
    thank you!

  23. YunaC

    Thank you so much, you are a goddess! I have been searching all over the internet for this recipe! I tried to imitate the garlic noodles a few months back and used a more “italian” approach. I cant thank you enough for your creativeness! I made your garlic noodles for a potluck last weekend and it was a hit!!! Everyone was asking for the recipe! Thank you!!!! Will enjoy this for life!

    • I am so happy 1 more reader converted to this Crustacean-inspired garlic noodles and roasted crab. This is an absolute delicious recipe and best shared with loads of friends :0 Did you tell your friends to come to Rasa Malaysia for the recipe? ;P

  24. Mesha

    I made this recipe last night for my family and it was perfect. It was a right on for the crab and the noodles. I was so surprised because I am not the best cook and my meal tasted just like Crustacean’s. I was so amazed and so was my family. Thank you so much for this. WOW!!!!!!

  25. Cheryl

    OMG I’ve read everyone inquiring about “what type of noodle to use” but I still haven’t seen a response. YES I LOVE the CRAB!! Thank you for the receipe, it came out 99% like Crustaceans overly priced crab!!! BUT the noodles were too garlicy and a bit on the mushy side… HELP!! I voluneteered to make this for Xmas dinner .. any suggestions on the noodles and where to get it????


  26. gaard

    This crab recipe is SPOT ON! Well, not quite…it’s actually BETTER than Crustacean’s! I’ve made it several times now and prefer the Knorr brand of bouillion so far. But watch out for Knorr’s many varieties of bouillion, several of which are only “chicken flavored.” But how can we make the noodles hot? And not mushy? I’ve been using the egg noodles found in the grocery store (the ones in the produce section next to the tofu and wonton wrappers). Is that the wrong kind of noodle, maybe? Looking forward to the possible update with brown sugar and fish sauce.

    • Jason

      I tried this recipe last night and it was very, very close. A great substitute from having to fly from OC to SF for a yummy dinner. I took the advice and added a bit of fish sauce and brown sugar. About 1/8 tsp. of fish sauce and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. It adds an extra depth of flavor and brings out the sweetness in the garlic.

      Noodles – I used store bought dried chow mein noodles. I followed the directions, but left them very al dente since there would be the residual cooking after drained due to the warmth of the noodles. After draining, I added a bit of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking while sitting.

      If you start the sauce as soon as you put the noodles in boiling water, you can have a warm version, which I prefer. I didn’t let the sauce cool before tossing and it came out divine!!

      Thanks for the recipe!! :)

  27. Richard

    Ok I believe I have found it: “Crustaceans Garlic Noodles” Recipe. Tastes GREAT!
    Serves/Makes: 4
    1 pound Asian style egg noodles (FRESH, not dried)
    4 tablespoons butter
    6 cloves garlic smashed
    2 tablespoons oyster sauce
    2 teaspoons fish sauce
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese

    Cook noodles as directed in package*** and set aside. Melt butter in a pan over medium low heat then add smashed garlic and saute for 5 minutes. You want to infuse the butter with garlic but do not want to brown them as it will be bitter. Adjust heat if you need.

    Discard garlic. Add fish sauce and oyster sauce to the butter, stir and mix. Add cooked noodles and Parmesan cheese and toss.

    ***I personally like Japanese Yakisoba noodles that comes in three small pouches in one bag. Boil 3/4 cups of water for all three pouches, add noodles and cook until all the water is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes

    Crustacean Restaurant, San Francisco

  28. earl farnsworth

    I always put the crab guts (not the brain) in with the sauce ingredients. PPQ Island, Thanh’s rival, Has a more liquid sauce for their roasted crab, which is also delicious and starts may arguments over rankings…

  29. Christine J

    Hi, I went to Thanh long and Crustacean and I love their Roasted Garlic Crab.. I’m very happy that I can find the recipe here and I can’t wait to try it out..

    However, I feel a bit nervous to cook a crab as I never cooked a crab before. I was wondering if you could make a video of it? I think it will surely help many people who would like to try making it as well.

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I’d also like to thank you in advance if you decide to make a video of it…


  30. ardora

    Thank you for the recipe, I have my sister eating crab and she didn’t even like crab before this, it came out perfect, so perfect I’m gonna cook some more crab tonight

  31. Vic

    Many SF Bay Area grocers are having a $2.99/lb dungeness crab sales this weekend (12/4/2010). Prepared our haul of crabs using the recipe, along with the garlic noodles dish and the entire meal was fabulously delicious!

    Thanks for dissecting and sharing the Crustacean recipe!

  32. BRae

    I used to work at Crusteceans in SF years ago and fell in love with the crab.It’s true there is a secret kitchen with little sliding wood doors. I feel we should share all good things, so thank you for the recipe. However, I did roast an entire bulb of garlic instead of fresh. It tasted better than Crustecean’s. Best meal in a long time.

  33. I came across your recipe and was so excited!! I tried once before to replicate Thanh Long’s flavors, but failed miserably!! Here I am several years later, and I can’t help imagine that you posted this just a few months after I last tried! Anyway, I made this combo last night and it blew me and my fiance away! We love Thanh Long, but can’t stand the prices! Can you try and replicate their beef medallions?

    For those of you who don’t know how to cook crab, just search “Cook live crab” on YouTube, there are excellent videos!

  34. Nick Freeman

    we tried the crustacean noodles, but the sauce curdled and sparated into oil and spooge components.
    we used all the ingredients exactly as specified- my wife thought it might have been the oystwr sauce.

    we even put the results into a fodd processor to attempt to homogenize the mess, but it refused to get togwther…

    any suggestions?

      • Mike

        I had the same problem (curdling and separating into oil and spooge components) making the sauce “prior” to adding it to the noodles. The ingredients did not mix well or dissolve. Could the heat be too low?

        Do you know the exact name or brand of noodles that you used? I did find some fresh noodles at my local asian market, but I may have over cooked it because it was all stuck together.

    • Chun

      I know what the problem is. This happened to me when I was making a very large batch (11x recipe) for a party. I started to panic but luckily, my husband is a very good cook and saved the day. We increased the heat and kept cooking, stirring to be sure it didn’t burn. It finally started to caramelize and everything melded together. WHEW! My husband said the problem was that it just needed to cook more.

  35. Heaven

    Hi! The garlic noodle is an amazing recipe!! Im from the Bay area and tried different types of garlic noodles from top restaurants but this is the BEST!! Tasty & garlicy! Im not a chef but i pulled this off really good, i guess its the recipe itself makes the difference. I still have to try the crabs, i must admit im a little bit intimidated when it comes to cooking crabs but can wait to try it out with your recipe!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  36. allison

    Yum!!! Can’t wait to try the roasted crab. I’ve been making garlic noodles at home for years and it is pretty close to your recipe except I use Golden Mountain seasoning sauce (which is a Thai soy sauce) instead of the oyster sauce and boullion. If Nick is reading this, save some of the pasta water when you drain the noodles. After you saute everything, carefully add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup pasta water, bring to a boil for 30 seconds, then toss with the noodles. The starch in the water thickens the sauce so it holds together and coats the noodles.

  37. mary

    Thanks for your recipe for the Garlic Crab and Noodles. We had the biggest crab fest on New Years Eve and my family loved it. We have all eaten at the San Francisco location and we all agree that you have cracked the secret recipe. I also used fresh noodles but I would prefer to find a better one, they didn’t taste the same. What brand did you use?

  38. Marion Tom

    I’ve tried numerous restaurants with garlic noodles and I’ve come up with my own. I hope you like it.

    1-lb. package of Chinese egg noodles (in refrigerated section in Asian markets)
    3 Tbsp. of smashed garlic (to infused with olive oil)
    ¼ cup olive oil
    ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese

    1 Tbsp. fish sauce
    2 Tbsp. soy sauce
    2 Tbsp. sugar
    1 Tbsp. oyster sauce

    1. Mix sauce in small bowl; set aside. Re-stir each time as sugar will settle.
    2. Bring pot of water to “rolling” boil; open package of noodles and separate by hand (sometimes I cut noodles in half; I’ve also heard some recipes call for rinsing under cold water before boiling).
    3. Add noodles to boiling water; return to boil and cook for 3-5 mins.
    4. Drain noodles but don’t rinse — quickly lay noodles in “single layer” on cookie sheet to dry for 30-mins. (use tongs as it will be hot).
    5. While noodles are cooking, add smashed garlic and olive oil in small pot to cook gently for 8-10 mins. over low heat (do not burn or it will be bitter – watch carefully). As soon as garlic turns pale (but not brown), remove from heat. Set aside. Discard garlic pieces when ready to use in frying noodles.
    6. When noodles are cooled (sticky), lightly fry in small batches over medium-high heat with 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil for 3-5 mins. each side (or extra crispy if that’s what you like). Add more butter as necessary to brown to your liking.
    7. When second side is being fried and almost done, add 1 tsp. of sauce into noodles. Blend well into noodles.
    8. Transfer noodles to clean pot; sprinkle 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese to mix.
    9. Continue frying in small batches, and repeat nos. 5-7 above.
    10. When done, incorporate remaining sauce into noodles (if any left).
    11. Transfer onto serving platter and garnish with fried shallots.

    Tip: If you prefer extra garlicky flavor, sprinkle garlic powder over noodles when frying.

    Marion-South San Francisco

  39. Megan

    I think you need to add fish sauce to get Crustatean taste. There are 3 main ingredients I tasted in their garlic noodles: butter, garlic, and fish sauce.

  40. John

    Great recipe! Thanks for posting it to share to all who desire to eat great. I have tried your recipe with tiger praws, lobster tails, and Canadian crab. All turned out great! I actually like the homemade version of your recipe better than Crustacean’s. I like a lot of seafood meat and garlic, so I am better able to control it with your wonderful recipe.
    God bless,

  41. Anne Nguyen

    Thank you for sharing lots of great recipes. I would like to know what kind of noodles and the brand that you use for the garlic noodles, it sounds delicious. I would like to make the roasted crab and the garlic for my family. By the way I go into your website everyday before go to bed it relax me looking at recipes and read what you wrote for each recipes.

  42. zakif

    I tried the garlic noodle recipe, instead of oyster sauce used fish sauce.. it went fine, but not so garlicy… maybe i should have sauted garlic and olive oil longer… when is a good indication to remove the garlic from olive oil? i bought the fresh egg noodles from asian store, does anyone know where to buy thinner fresh noodles within bay area? thanks for sharing this recipe….

  43. dlazzarini

    Thank You so much Rasa.
    I’ve been fortunate enough to eat the roast crab and garlic noodles at Crustaceans in San Francisco 3 times. I tried your recipe last night. The garlic noodles are spot on. I would’nt change a thing. In my opinion, they were identical. I still need to work on the roast crab part. Dont get me wrong, the crab was great. It’s hard to screw up dungeoness crab. Do you use live crab for the recipe? I was close, but no cigar.

  44. Diane

    Yum!!! My husband and I are big fans of Thanh Long/Crustacean’s garlic noodles. This recipe is spot on! Thank you so much for sharing. My 6 yo son loved it too.

  45. garlic noodle lover

    This recipe was amazing, im from england and havent eaten at crustaceans yet, but it sure wet my appetite for doing so. Instead of the crab i used shrimp which was still a hit.

  46. fliz

    my friend and i went to eat last wednesday and we ordered the garlic noodles, garlic rice and the crabs out of the shell , thank you , i want to cook this at home for my husband as i could not afford to go back there again .

  47. AW

    I have never tasted fish sauce in their noodles, EVER! I want to try your recipe because I’ve tried all the rest and there amazing, but I’m almost positive they don’t have that in them! I live in sf and always eat at the restaurant but never order their crab anymore cause it frozen just the noodles so I’m wondering is it the crab that gave you the fishy taste?

  48. Susan

    Love your site. Can you please send me a picture of the package of noodles you use to make this dish
    Also where do you buy your noodles from. Thank you. This is one of my fav. Dishes. I cannot wait to make it.

  49. Susan

    I live in NorCal so I am hoping I can pick these up at Ranch 99, unless you have another suggestion. Thanks for your prompt reply

  50. Chun Wong

    Hi. I made your garlic noodles for a crab feed last year and it was amazing, so I’m going to make it again for a large party this weekend and was wondering how many servings your recipe serves. We will be having several items on the menu including fried rice, so I’m thinking that 1 recipe will go a long way. We are expecting about 50 people, so I am thinking that I’ll need approx. 11x your recipe (14 lbs. of noodles). Does that sound reasonable? Also, can I just multiply the recipe by 11 and make one big batch, or should I make smaller batches? Can I make the sauce in advance and just mix it into the noodles when I am ready to serve? Thanks for your help.

    • Chun

      I ended up using just 6 lbs of noodles because we had so much food. 1 lb served approx 8 people as a side dish. I used the exact noodles recommended and it turned out great. I think the type of noodles used makes a big difference. I’ve made this recipe 3 times. The second time, I used fresh egg noodles and somehow, the results were not as good as I remembered. I happened to use the recommended noodles the first time, and this time, I made sure to get the same noodles. BTW, we did not wait for the noodles to come to a boil because they would have gotten too soft and gooey. We just put in boiling water and waited a short time (less than 2 minutes) for the noodles to just heat through. Thanks, Rasa Malaysia! This now my go-to garlic noodle recipe.

  51. When did you change your recipe for garlic noodles? I don’t recall the recipe you first posted had Maggi seasoning. I will need to try this new recipe, but it will be hard to beat the original one.

  52. alicia

    I used this recipe….. Delicious. We will never eat this anywhere but home again. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  53. Slavaska

    The noodles sound so good— but I’m skeptical about the cheese. I’ve never had the original (since I don’t live in LA and I don’t eat meat anyway), but I think it would be good anyway without the cheese. Or is there something else I can substitute for it? I might try using nutritional yeast powder instead, it has a similar flavor without that “funkiness” that I don’t really like about the cheese.

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