Crustacean-inspired Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab Recipes
June 08th, 2008 119 Comments

Crustacean-inspired Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab Recipes

Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab
Garlic Noodles and Roasted Crab pictures (4 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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119 comments... read them below or add one

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  3. Vic says:

    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!

  4. BRae says:

    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.

  5. Lee says:

    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!

  6. mae says:

    This noodle recipe is excellent! I made it following the instructions exactly and everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Danny says:

    I followed this reciepe to the T …it was thee best I made 6 crabs and the noodles..
    Jus wanted to say thank u..

  8. Nick Freeman says:

    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?

    • Hi Nick, I am not sure. Could it be that your noodles are too wet with too much water clinging to it? Mine turned out just like the way you see in the pictures.

      • Mike says:

        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 says:

      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.

  9. Heaven says:

    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!!!

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  12. allison says:

    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.

  13. mary says:

    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?

  14. Molly says:

    Trying this recipe tonight. Cant wait! Im making 3 crabs so should I triple the crab ingredients?

  15. Irene says:

    CAn i use regular crab? Seems like we dont have dungeness crab in indonesia

  16. Marion Tom says:

    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

  17. Megan says:

    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.

  18. John says:

    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,

  19. Anne Nguyen says:

    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.

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  21. darren says:

    is it possible to use spaghetti instead of fresh noodles?

  22. zakif says:

    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….

  23. dlazzarini says:

    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.

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  25. jacklyn says:

    Can you used cooked crab? I can only find fresh cooked crab at my grocery store. :(

  26. Diane says:

    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.

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  28. garlic noodle lover says:

    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.

  29. fliz says:

    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 .

  30. AW says:

    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?

  31. Karen says:

    May I ask which yellow noodles you recommend?

  32. samiaingram says:

    What is Maggi seasoing sauce? And where can I find it

  33. Kelly V. says:

    Can I substitute lobster claws for the crab? Using the process/recipe above? Thanks in advance!

  34. Susan says:

    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.

  35. Susan says:

    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

  36. Mela says:

    Hi, can you email me the original recipe you had for the crab and noodles. I prefer it better than this current one thanks

  37. Chun Wong says:

    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 says:

      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.

  38. Elizabeth says:

    What is Maggi seasoning? is that soy sauce?

  39. bob says:

    can you use regular bowtie pasta?

  40. kikukat says:

    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.

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