At the southeast corner of Bedford and Santa Monica Blvd., just two streets west of Rodeo Drive, is a luxurious slice of Asian elegance known as Crustacean. It's not surprising that the place has been attracting celebs: it's a spectacular restaurant, right in the middle of Beverly Hills' "Golden Triangle".
Entering the restaurant, you walk atop a (glassed over) stream which winds through the restaurant, filled with black & gold koi fish, over a wooden bridge, past a floor-to-ceiling aquarium, a waterfall, and a copper-topped bar... all leading to the impressive two-story dining room itself, which features marble floors, skylights, a bamboo grove, hand-carved furniture and Asian murals.
And there's an interesting story to match the beautiful decor.
Crustacean's owner, Helene An, a wealthy member of the former royal family of Vietnam, escaped her native country during the fall of Saigon. At Crustacean, she has attempted to recreate the old-world elegance of her great-grandfather's estate in French colonial Vietnam, where she spent her childhood.
Her daughter Elizabeth, manages the restaurant, while Helene prepares six “sacred dishes” out of sight of prying eyes, in the privacy of a special kitchen.
So just who has been there?
Well, for starters, there's Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, Warren Beatty & Annette Benning, Wesley Snipes, Sly Stallone, Whitney Houston, Sharon Stone, Courtney Cox, Nancy Reagan, Jane Fonda, Oliver Stone, Cindy Crawford, Arsenio Hall, Marlee Matlin, Mickey Rourke, Catherine Zeta Jones, Debbie Allen, James Coburn, Hugh Hefner, Jeff Bridges, Mike Tyson, Arsenio Hall, Kimberly Williams, Tony Curtis and Vice President Al Gore. Laila Ali, daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali, got engaged there. Anna Nicole Smith was seen with the son of the late Shah of Iran. Tennis great Pete Sampras was reportedly asked to leave because he was wearing shorts.
As for the cuisine, expect Vietnamese seafood with a Euro touch. The specialties are Dungeness crab, Chilean sea bass (which Mel Gibson likes), huge royal tiger prawns with garlic noodles (a favorite of Will Smith), and lobster in tamarind sauce (which is Leonardo's choice).
The restaurant has a private upstairs room for publicity-shy celebs. They even have a side entrance - via an alley. But not everyone opts for that sort of thing. Harrison Ford and Oliver Stone were both seen enjoying themselves in the main dining room downstairs.
Crustacean serves lunch on weekdays, and dinner every day except Sunday. Prices can be steep. There's live jazz every night. (They prefer jackets here, but the dress code only prohibits jeans, tennis shoes and baseball caps.)
You'll want to make reservations in advance.
Crustacean is located on the south side of Little Santa Monica Blvd
(just south of the main Santa Monica Blvd.), at the southeast corner of
Bedford Avenue. From Rodeo Drive, turn left (southwest) on Santa Monica
Blvd., and go just two short blocks to Crustacean, which will be on your
left side, just before Bedford.
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