SFReview

Every night, Thanh Long draws in crowds from all over the Bay. They’re mainly here for two things: to crack open phenomenal pepper-coated roast crabs and shovel down platefuls of butter-coated garlic noodles (invented here in the '70s). Do either of those things sounds like enjoyable things to do? Then get to this Sunset institution—it’s a seafood and garlic-centric party. 

Inside the large, pastel-colored dining room you’ll likely see cakes in honor of 1st and 75th birthdays, friends participating in going away send-offs involving multiple rounds of lychee martinis, and coworkers posing for pictures in plastic bibs. You’re also taken care of all night. The staff are quick to bring you hot towels and make sure your wine glass stays full. And if you want your evening to have a bit more VIP energy, request the big booth with the curved, high back.

The menu of Vietnamese starters, large plates, and sides is mostly seafood. We like to start off with the juicy broiled shrimp toast and tender shaken beef. But like everyone else in the room, you’re here for the original roast crab loaded with butter, garlic, and a secret blend of spices (there’s also roast crab simmered in chardonnay and another in tamarind). Once it lands on the table, crack open the legs, dig out perfectly cooked meat, and drizzle on even more butter before licking it off your fingers. You’ll also want to get multiple orders of the Genius Grant-worthy garlic noodles, which are made in a top-secret kitchen within the main kitchen. Like Viola Davis and an emotionally charged monologue, these garlic noodles are the crab’s perfect pairing.

At $80 per crab (at the time of writing), you might not be coming to Thanh Long every week. But you can make a trip here a yearly tradition, or reserve this spot for graduation dinners, birthdays, and last meals in the city with 10 of your closest friends. And if you’ve never experienced dinner at this iconic spot—or are past due for that yearly visit—use this review as a sign and get here now.

Food Rundown

Roast Crab

Simply gorgeous, buttery whole-roast crabs seasoned with “secret spices” are on every table. That should be a good enough indicator that leaving here without ordering one is blasphemous. If you need it spelled out for you: Order. This.

Garlic Noodles

We’re all for the Krabby Patty-levels of secrecy Thanh Long has going on with these noodles, since whatever they’re doing to them is clearly working. The springy noodles are evenly coated in a mystery blend of butter, garlic, and sorcery. Each bowl serves about two people, so consider multiple orders if you're with a group.

Shrimp Toast

A nice two-biter. The shrimp pâté stays juicy even after the toast is broiled. This is a great way to start the meal off. Three per order.

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