The Secret Kitchen

Many years ago, Tom and I were in Los Angeles for a convention. Something that you may not know about me is prior to traveling, I’ll research the area for new and interesting restaurants to tantalize my taste buds. Well, my second cousin twice removed from someone or another in my family told me about a famous Euro-Asian restaurant in Beverly Hills that I had to try. After hearing more about this restaurant, I decided yes, I will give it a try.

After we arrived in LA, I picked up the phone to make the reservation to this restaurant. The reservationist who answered carried a Beverly Hills “air” about her – not particularly rude, but not particularly friendly either. I made my reservation for three (our son was only 10 months old at the time and our daughter was more than a few dreams away). The reservationist proceeded to tell me their dress code: no sweatshirt, no jeans, no hat, no shorts…the list went on and on for what seemed like 15 minutes. After she was done, I asked her if this would be a good place to bring a 10-month-old. Dead silence. Let me repeat that…dead silence. “Excuse me?” she said. I asked again. “Uh…no.”, she replied. There’s that Beverly Hills air again. I thanked her and hung up. I waited about 20 minutes then dialed the phone again. The same reservationist answered. This time, however, I did not mention anything about a 10-month-old. Apparently, she didn’t recognize my voice as she went through the dress code again.

When we arrived at Crustacean with our son in tow, one of the first things I noticed was a walkway that winds from the front entrance, through the cocktail lounge towards the back. It wasn’t just any walkway, mind you. It was a glass walkway on top of a serpentine-style aquarium that was built into the floor and was occupied by multi-colored koi fish. That was the first thing I noticed. The second thing was the line up of highchairs leaning against the side wall. Apparently, no one told the reservationist that babies and toddlers were allowed in the restaurant.

After being seated (in the front of the restaurant as far away from the other diners as possible – probably because of our 10-month-old), I looked over the menu and asked the server for his recommendation. After hearing about the daily specials, I decided to try their famous roasted crab and garlic noodles. We found out from the server this particular item was one of the proprietor’s secret recipes and, therefore, prepared in a “secret kitchen.” Say what?

Ah, yes. The secret kitchen is a private kitchen completely enclosed within the main kitchen. This secret kitchen is off limits to all except for the family members. It is in this kitchen that the specialty dishes are created. They claim their secret recipes are well protected within this kitchen. (Little do they know that a caterer from the Midwest has recreated her own version of these delectables.)

At the end of the day, I enjoyed the food. I really did. Tom enjoyed the food. And our little guy? Well, he wasn’t old enough to enjoy the food, which was okay. Besides, he was too busy trying to “feed” the koi fish by throwing my noodles on to the glass walkway on the floor.