Saturday, January 30, 2016

Off the Map: Oh No, Save Our Comrades

Garlic Noodles -- Crustacean, Beverly Hills, CA

"Do you need us to validate your parking?"  This appears to be the most common question posed in Los Angeles, which becomes all the more humiliating every time we are forced to answer, "No, we walked here."  While Crustacean is barely a quarter mile from our hotel, we soon discover getting there on our own is no easy feat, as we have to constantly hunt down a crosswalk as if we're on an archaeological dig.
The Land Where Every Car Wishes to Kill Us
"Walkin' in LA, walkin' in LA," Vodka repeats, pumping her arms like a shopping mall speed-walker as we cross our third multi-lane highway of the night.  Managing to make it to Crustacean unscathed, we position ourselves on two bar stools and prepare to order Duff Goldman's Best Thing I Ever Ate FILLED WITH ENVY dish, the garlic noodles, plus, of course, some all-important cocktails.
Our Favorite Travel Buddies
Discovering that we are still in the ideal happy hour window (thank you, LA, for agreeing with us that happy hour should essentially last all day), Ginger orders a gin concoction, and Vodka, a glass of cabernet.  From our perches at the corner of the bar, we gaze around the restaurant, noting the long trail of an oversized fish tank weaving underneath the floor, assorted giant fish swimming within it.
Nemo? Is That You?
"Well, that just seems awkward in a seafood restaurant," Vodka notes, though no one, including the fish, seem particularly offended by the project.  
Crustacean's Version of the Yellow Brick Road
As we sip (some would say "chug") our drinks, we realize one reason why, even if the food isn't something to write home about, we have generally enjoyed our experiences at LA restaurants: space.  With so much room to spread out, the establishments almost never have their patrons sitting on top of one another, and even the bar stools we're currently perched on are roomy and spread out.
And With No One Around Us to Watch, We Can Take Ridiculous Pictures and Not Be Judged
Luckily for us, it turns out that Crustacean actually is a place to write home about, as it only takes one bite of their famous garlic noodles to discover that we have, finally, found a true 5-star Best Thing I Ever Ate dish in LA.  
Only Took Us Seven Dishes, But Hey, Still Found One
Since the noodles are also on the happy hour menu, they arrive in a slightly smaller portion, and when a couple fall over the edge of the plate and tickle the bar, Vodka calls out, "Oh no, save our comrades!"  Indeed, losing a single bite of this dish would be a tragedy, as these are some of the most perfect noodles we have ever tasted.  
And That's Saying A Lot, Considering Pasta and Wine Are Pretty Much Our Main Food Groups
Please Note the Precariousness of the Dangling Noodle
Wrapped around our chopsticks in increasingly-large mounds, they are essentially lo mein-type noodles covered in an invisible sheen of Crustacean's secret garlic sauce.  Besides garlic, we're not exactly sure what we taste, but we do know it's pleasing enough to order a second plate.  
Barkeep, Bring Us Another Round
And despite our attempts to soak up our cocktails with double plates of noodles, by the time we're ready to leave Crustacean, we are growing increasingly close to being one too many sheets to the wind.  As Ginger attempts, for at least the seventh time today, to apply her new lipstick, and subsequently places it everywhere except on her actual lips, Vodka tells her, without any sense of irony, "I think your lipstick is too advanced for you," as if said lipstick was an AP Calculus course and not just a few too many shades of pink.
Ginger's Results Essentially Look Like She Put the Lipstick on During an Earthquake
"Just wait until La Scala gets a hold of us," Ginger says, regarding our next Best Thing I Ever Ate location.  And as we trudge out of the restaurant over the floor of trapped fish, how little we know just how prolific that statement would come to be....

Crustacean's Garlic Noodles: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

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