Monday, August 29, 2011

An the Go - An's Famous Garlic Noodles

Several years ago I first experienced the infamous garlic noodles at Thanh Long, and since then it has been a frequent craving of mine. I enjoyed them so much that I even found a recipe for them and added that to my culinary repertoire. Fans of the An family's secret recipe no longer have to venture to one of their brick-and-mortar restaurants to enjoy these noodles because now An the Go serves them out of their bright red truck.

I can still remember that first dinner with friends at Thanh Long. After noshing our way through one order, we immediately ordered a second, and to this day I still remember the noodles more than their other famous dish, Drunken Crab. As the years passed I frequently commented to my husband about how we should go back, specifically for the noodles. In an attempt to satiate my noodle craving without actually going to the restaurant, I started cooking a mock version at home, inspired by a recipe here. While they were never as good as the original, I thought they were still pretty darn tasty, and family and friends seemed to approve.

The An Family owns several restaurants and have closely guarded their secret recipes for years. They have even erected a completely enclosed "Secret Kitchen" in each restaurant's kitchens, in which only members of their family are allowed. It is in these kitchens that their famous garlic noodles are prepared. Now that's protecting a family secret!

One bite of the garlic noodles from An The Go told me that my faux garlic noodles were a far cry from the original, perhaps tasty in their own right but still a distant second to the Thanh Long version I so fondly remember. But that's okay because now that their noodles are mobile, I have many more opportunities to enjoy the original! The noodles are the star of the menu, but they also offer various meat and fish skewers and other assorted treats to round out your meal.

The noodles are served in a deep round plastic container, packed full so that they practically explode when the cover is removed. The spaghetti-style pasta was coated with a light buttery sauce, enough so that each noodle glistened. The noodles were both soft and chewy but cooked with such skill that they were neither mushy nor al dente, just a great texture nestled somewhere between the two. The garlic flavor, while clearly detectable, is more of a subtlety than an imposing master, and it never crossed the line to where it was pungent. Overall the dish had a slightly sweet taste, and it appeared that it was tossed with a bit of cheese. My noodles were neither dry nor greasy, and none stuck together.

My son, who was munching on a bao of his own, kept asking me for more forkfuls of these tasty noodles. Even with sharing I could only finish a little over half of my large portion, leaving me satiated and happy to have a lunch portion for the future.

To make it a complete meal I added the deep-fried Coconut Crusted Prawns, which were an absolute hit. They were fairly large, with a crispy coconut coating to give it some crunch which worked really well as a textural contrast to the softer noodles. The prawns came with a sweet mango dipping sauce that was a little too sweet for my tastes, but when eaten with the noodles I found that the prawns didn't need it.

If you have had either Crustacean or Thanh Long then you already know how fantastic these noodles are. If you haven't, then you owe it to yourself to pay a visit to either An the Go or one of the family's brick and mortar establishments. While I have heard from some people that the $7.50 cost of the noodles is on the high side, I beg to differ. It's a large portion and less expensive than at any of the sit-down places, which makes perfect sense for a food truck.

Rating: 4/5 (ratings guide)

An the Go (@anthegosf) $7.50 for the noodles, $5 for the prawns

An the Go Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!

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