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AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Bar

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Bar

Queen of Vietnamese Fusion Paints OC with a Splash of Red

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle BarAnQi is a gourmet bistro and noodle bar from House of An, the culinary powerhouse that brought Crustacean to Beverly Hills.  CEO, Elizabeth An, is one of five daughters of Chef “Mama” Helene An, who is a legend for her famous and secret recipes.  Elizabeth’s vision for AnQi was to represent Vietnamese fusion cuisine using Asian herbs and spices while incorporating Chef Helene An’s French Colonial past.  While Crustacean is filled with an upscale and traditional crowd, AnQi dishes out the same high quality and creative cuisine, but with a different vibe that is vibrant and alive with red energy.  Elizabeth carefully chose the name AnQi because it is symbolic and holds great meaning.  An, being her family surname, was combined with Qi, which has a plethora of meanings in Asian languages, but also happens to be her Vietnamese nickname.  Chef Ron Lee leads the energy of AnQi in the kitchen as fusion entrees are exotic, creative, and prepared with the freshest and highest quality ingredients. 

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle BarAnQi is conveniently located in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California and a favorite lunch and dinner stop for shoppers and local businesses.  Divided into separate dining areas, AnQi is comprised of the main dining room, the bar dining area, their fabulous noodle bar, and a private dining room for groups or parties.  In this private dining room, parties can partake at the Chef’s Table as a frosted glass window overlooks the Secret Kitchen.  The Secret Kitchen is a completely concealed kitchen, off limits to all employees except the An Family.  Diners can get a peek of the Secret Kitchen by pressing a button, to which the chef will accept and the frosted glass clears.  For diners “on the go” or those looking for a quick yet satisfying meal, AnQi’s noodle bar is the place to be.  Reminiscent of Tokyo ramen shops, this elegant noodle bar serves a variety of savory noodle dishes like rich beef pho and shrimp dumplings.

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Bar Elizabeth “colored the AnQi dining experience red” because the bold and glamorous color can mean so many things from love, passion, strength, prosperity, and more.  That said, Elizabeth wants diners to “feel the AnQi red” as they dine among the warm, red vibrant hues of the restaurant.  The romantic and elegant atmosphere is inspired by architect Tadao Ando’s design portfolio as the restaurant reflects the principles of Feng Shui while being aesthetically Vietnamese and contemporary in ambience.  At AnQi, there is always something for everyone’s palate as they offer a wide range of sushi, cooked dishes, and vegetarian friendly options.  On any given night, the dining area is often diversely filled with large parties, intimate couples, friends, and families with kids.  AnQi is a family friendly restaurant as parents can bring their children to enjoy a memorable family meal. 

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle BarNo visit would be complete without trying AnQi’s signature cocktails.  Their most popular “molecular” cocktail which also doubles as eye-candy is the Pink Lotus, made with Finlandia grapefruit vodka, cointreau, pink cotton candy, pink grapefruit and orange, with muddle blackberry.  This concoction arrives in its pure form, a heap of AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Barpink cotton candy in a martini glass, which then magically melts into a fabulous cocktail as the shaker is poured.  A hint of sweetness without being sugary, this is one of those cocktails anyone could have a few of without even realizing it.  AnQi also spins the traditional mojito into their Viet-jito, a much lighter and more refreshing take made with Ketel One citron, muddle lime, Kinh Gioi herb, agave nectar, and topped with lemon foam.  Known as Vietnamese mint, Kinh Gioi leaves have a pleasant aroma, giving this light, airy drink a unique herb taste that is less intense than its mint counterpart, which balances nicely with the natural sweetness from the lime and agave nectar.

The dinner menu is organized and straightforward, starting off with Asian tapas divided by hot and cold.  Each item looks just as delicious as the next as their tapas have been carefully selected by Chef Lee and the An Kitchen using only the freshest ingredients.  For hot tapas, the Salt and Pepper Calamari was AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Barimpressive with its distinctive secret seasoning and use of diced scallions and red jalapenos.  The crispy fried batter enveloping the tender calamari was not soggy and was pleasantly complimented with a Thai basil aioli.  This AnQi signature dish is perfect for sharing with the table as it is a well-done spin on the classic starter.  Another signature dish that is just as fabulous is the Spicy Beef Tacos, a miniature fried wonton shell taco filled with grilled seasoned beef, pickled heirloom beets, avocado, and bean sprouts.  One could easily eat ten of these as they are that good!  The combination of the grilled beef with pickled beets and creaminess of the avocado inside the crispy wonton taco shell is superb.

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle BarAnQi offers a similar taco under their cold tapas made with fresh Ahi tuna.  The Tombo Tuna Poke Wontons feature diced Ahi tuna mixed with Asian pear, avocado, white truffle, topped with black tobiko inside a crispy wonton taco shell.  Sushi lovers will be pleased with this delicious appetizer as it delivers a satisfying crunch against the creamy, tender tuna mix.  For vegetarians, the Takuwan Maki Sushi is stellar as it is one of the best vegetarian sushi rolls we have encountered.  AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle BarEven non-vegetarians will be amazed at the complex flavors in this sushi roll filled with eggplant, asparagus, gobo root, avocado and topped with slivers of roasted beet and pickled daikon.  The roll is served upon a layer of golden curry, adding spice and richness to each bite.  From their molecular menu, the Luna Oyster Shooters are a fun and unique way to partake in the traditional oyster shots.  Fresh oysters immersed in a ponzu with granite, Japanese citrus, and pop rocks gives an explosive sensation.  Another molecular favorite is the Hiramasa Sashimi, with avocado silk, sweet and sour tangerine veil, jalapeno-cucumber emulsion, and frozen beet.

AnQi features imaginative meat and seafood large plates such Roasted Cornish Game Hen, Filet Mignon Confit, Furikake Vietnamese Catfish, and Char-Grilled Jumbo Prawns.  From sea, the Misoyaki Butterfish is one of our favorites as it was so beautifully seasoned and perfectly cooked.  The Dijon-misoyaki glaze drizzled atop the butterfish sitting upon a bed of Bhutanese red cargo rice with Thai herbs and AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Barbroccolini is simple yet gourmet.  Flaking apart at the touch, the butterfish is just slightly charred but stays moist, tender, and tastes rich like butter on the tongue.  But if you want something divine, the Mongolian BBQ Lamb Lollipops are a real treat.  Served on the bone, these meaty pops are easy to eat by simply holding the bone as a lollipop to enjoy the plump and juicy roast of tender lamb at the end.  Served atop piquillo peppers, broccolini, young potatoes, shitake mushrooms with golden curry butter, this is not your average meat and potatoes dish.

AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle BarWhether it is your first or tenth time dining at AnQi, An’s Famous Garlic Noodles are a necessary staple.  Made in the Secret An Kitchen from its guarded recipe, these thick cut egg noodles are tossed in a distinct garlic sauce with secret ingredients that keeps you coming back for more.  A secret recipe that only “Mama” Helene An knows, these noodles are soft and full but packed with immense garlic flavor and buttery texture.  These noodles can be ordered with sizzling filet mignon or a pan roasted full Maine Lobster atop.  But even ordered alone, these famous garlic noodles steal the spotlight and are downright unforgettable.  Ending on a high note, the desserts at AnQi are all very light and AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Bardelicate, satisfying your sweet tooth without weighing you down.  Exotic treats like Lychee Panna Cotta and Vietnamese Banana Fritter will catch your eye, but the Elderflower Parfait is served so beautifully that you will take a moment before digging in.  This sweet and soft dessert is made with pink rose meringue, pomegranate pearls, sweet and sour tangerine, and jasmine frozen yogurt.  The edible flower petals are a stunning touch to the fragrant and aromatic elderflower parfait, while the jasmine frozen yogurt is light as air.  

AnQi is one of the first restaurants in the county to feature Bistronomy, a combination of bistro with gastronomy where diners interested in their molecular gastronomy menu can inquire and schedule a reservation in advance.  For lunch, AnQi serves lighter fare such as dim sum, lettuce wraps, sushi, sandwiches, fresh salads, noodles, and stir-fry.  AnQi also has a fabulous happy hour, known as the Red Hour, with half-off cocktails and deals on favorite tapas Monday through Friday 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Be sure to inquire about their “Fashionably Late Fridays” event every Friday night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. featuring a DJ, Red Hour drink specials and late night bites.  For reservations, call (714) 557-5679 or visit online at anqibistro.com

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