Dear Mr. Gold:
One of my co-workers asked me to ask you for a good place to get Vietnamese fried crab. I said I would try.
–Jim, South Pasadena
There is, of course, a Beverly Hills restaurant famous for just this dish, and a friend once remarked that its name must be the Vietnamese word for Red Lobster. But many a crab has been dispatched in the San Gabriel Valley, and a pretty good percentage of them have been sacrificed for this very reason, hacked into pieces and fried with chiles, ginger and herbs, served unbelievably hot. If you don't walk away from the experience with several small blisters on the roof of your mouth, you have been done a grave disservice.
The newly relocated Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant, which occupies a converted Marie Callender's, may be somewhat better known for its Vietnamese fried lobsters, many of which weigh in at more than five pounds, but its version of fried crab is pretty much as good. Supplement your crab with an order of the sweet, intricately spiced French beef cubes.
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant: 518 W Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel; (626) 289-5998.