Keeping up with the An’s. This family run business is far from your average mom and pop shop. Taking the family name to new heights in the culinary bubble of Orange County, AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Bar in Costa Mesa is more than another noodle house. Yes, it is more on the classy side of mall eateries. Yes, you could shell out a couple hundred on tapas style dining. Yes, you will leave extremely satisfied. Being a mom and pop shop with an upscale twist, the restaurant employees are seen more like children to Mama An, according to our server. This isn’t child’s play. AnQi takes noodles very seriously as every menu detail is scrutinized. Not too shabby for mall food.
Our tapas style dining began with a “too pretty to eat” appetizer of Eel. On a bed of avocado mousse, this tower of eel sauce, tofu, eel, and rice are wrapped in seaweed. With a sesame cracker on the side, appetizer number one was spicy from the mousse, but the crunchy cracker added a nice balance to the sushi roll. Really all we needed were some tortilla chips to finish off the fancy guacamole.
First course continued with AnQi’s favorite Garlic Noodles and Steamed Black Mussels. The buttery noodles with the slight and never overpowering taste of garlic are the reason people name this their favorite side dish. I thoroughly enjoyed the coconut broth of the mussels. I couldn’t help but double dip my mussels in the coconut, chili, and lime leaf broth.
Not going to lie, tapas style can get difficult when the dish only serves enough for three and it is a party of four. It’s so hard to share and play nice when food is up for the taking. Yes, mall food is mall food, but who doesn’t love hand crafted tacos on a bed of arugula with radishes and beets to top it off. The Beef Tacos were a spicy and crunchy start to another equally scrumptious treat that was a little closer to home. The Kalbi Hanger Steak is just a fancier name for medium rare Korean B.B.Q.. With the pickled kimchi, the handmade wraps were delicious with the ginger scallion sauce. Did I mention I love the Furikake topping on my sticky rice? AnQi is very generous with their Furikake and I love the crunchy rice in the personalized Asian wrap.
It has been non-stop eating with all this food for the party of four and I’m surprised myself that we had a conversation with all this food in front of us. Luckily, they were distracted as I continued to devour on AnQi’s larger plate option of Filet Mignon Confit. This “dainty fillet” is not so dainty as a fairly good cut of tenderloin is on a burnt carrot, shitaki mushroom demi-glaze with wasabi tator tots. The smoky paste with the crunchy cabbage changed an ordinary Filet Mignon to an Asian inspired masterpiece. Honestly, I would order this plate just to have the wasabi tator tots. If there’s one deadly frozen food that I love more than life, it would be tator tots. Fried to crispy perfection, this tots were a kick to the nasal congestion with the hint of wasabi.
Such a tease for shrimp to claim jumbo size, but they drastically shrink after cooked. Luckily, we have jumbo prawns. Still in the family of shrimp, these massive creatures are caught or farmed for human consumption. And they are not kidding with the size of these bad boys. Grilled and basted in a mango sauce, the Jumbo Prawns are a meal on its own. Deveined and cleaned, these mammoths aren’t exactly finger food. A little watercress to top it off and you have mouthwatering candy of the ocean.
Even after all of this, dessert is a must here. You will leave happy after having Vietnamese Banana Fritters. Our last dish at AnQi was a home run with a spoon of the fried banana, ice cream, whip cream, and caramel. The crunchy exterior makes the banana melt in your mouth with every bite. Eating with the people you enjoy to be with is the key to a successful tapas styling dinner. There will be no fighting over the odd number servings. Everyone goes home happy and most importantly, full.