The story of the House of An, the restaurant company that runs Crustacean in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, AnQi at South Coast Plaza and multiple other high-end dining and catering concepts, is well-known: refugee family who parlayed their Vietnamese heritage into great food, spectacular presentations, and a permanent place in American food history. A lot of the press rightfully went to Helene An, the House's head chef who created its legendary garlic noodles, and her ever-hustling daughters. But lesser publicized is the role of the An matriarch: Diana An, Helene's mother-in-law, who passed away yesterday of natural causes. She was in her 90s.
It was Diana, after all, who'd team up with Helene to host banquets and oversee staffs of chefs back in Vietnam. It was Diana who bought an Italian deli in San Francisco in the early 1970s as an excuse to visit San Francisco more often. And when the Ans had to flee Vietnam, their only possession became that Italian deli, which became the family's first restaurant, Thanh Long.
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If you know the An family at all, you know that they'll miss their matriarch dearly but celebrate her life well-lived. And the best way to celebrate Diana, of course, is to head over to AnQi and raise a drink or three in her honor. See you there!