February 04, 2011

Go Now: Lukshon - Culver City, CA

I'm not usually one to get to a place early on and try to write about it - generally restaurants take a little while to get into the rhythm of things, perhaps a few weeks, maybe a month or so, before the kitchen and service staff are syncing well. I just couldn't help sneaking over to Lukshon (pronounced luck-shawn), which is Sang Yoon's new pan-Asian concept right next to his Culver City Father's Office location in the Helms Bakery concept.

First off, the space is amazing. The high ceilings, the clean modern design, the sturdy and fresh bar furniture, and open kitchen, the sleek wine bar, even the open patio. Overall a great place for some dining - and we're talking real food done well at (I'd say) reasonable prices.

I know I'm going to be back here fairly often, if only to sample some of Sang Yoon's cooking. I never had the chance to try his cuisine when he was the chef de cuisine at Michael's in Santa Monica, but from what I've heard, when Sang is behind the stove, the cooking can be unparalleled. Of course I'm personally interested in Sang Yoon's success as a chef because he's one of the top Korean American chefs in the country, along with David Chang in New York, Corey Lee in the Bay Area, Bill Kim in Chicago, and Roy Choi here in L.A.

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I started out with a quick cocktail (called the Fujian Cure) of 8-year old Isle of Skye scotch and black tea with a piece of candied ginger as garnish, a refreshing way to start the meal. The raw scallop with a perfect brunoise of crunchy water chestnuts and cucumber had just the right acidic, spice, and textural balance to the slippery tender scallop.

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I'm just enamored by the spicy chicken pops, which are essentially an elegant of spicy-sweet glazed chicken wings. It's kind of great to see Sang's riff off nouvelle cuisine (chicken lollipops or Loiseau's frog-leg pops) with what is basically Korean-Chinese fried chicken wings. These are the chicken wings I grew up eating at places like The Dragon in Koreatown, and I would venture to guess that they're the inspiration for these chicken pops. The texture is magnificent, with a slightly firm outside and a toothsome bite that's full of flavor (if perhaps a tad salty). They're addictive and fun to eat, and perfectly shareable.

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We also got to try a bit of the sausage roti from our neighbors at the communal table - it's pretty good though I'd probably save stomach space for the noodles.

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The yellow curry noodles arrived first. The curry was rich and layered in flavors, comforting and smooth without too much sweetness that plagues other Thai curries. A whole shrimp was nicely displayed though the meat was a little tough - they probably cooked it beforehand and heated it a la minute, though I sort of wish they threw it onto the bottom of the broth and let the residual heat barely cook it, yielding a tender, slippery flesh. Either way, the noodles were terrific and the dish a great deal at around $11. There was even leftover curry so we asked for some steamed white rice ($3) that we used to mop it up - amazing.

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The dan dan mien was another revelation. I've had dan dan noodles a number of times in San Gabriel, but I've never had a version as good as this one. The sichuan heat is vibrant, almost overpowering, though it tapers off enough without blinding the palate too much. The noodles have a great bite while the rest of the sauce just marries all the flavors together. I could eat this bowl fairly regularly with its modest price (considering the location, quality of ingredients, and ambiance).

Two final notes about service and ambiance. Lukshon was designed by Ana Henton of MASS Architecture, the Eastside standout that's designed places like Silver Lake Wine and Intelligentsia Pasadena. This might be one of my favorite designs - slick, modern, dark, yet filled with small details that delight the diner. The space is just stunning, all the way from the bar to the open kitchen to the patio. In addition the service was about was present as one could ask for without being distracting. The whole staff worked cohesively as a team, an impressive feat considering it was just the first week or so.

I hope to return often, if only to try more of Chef Sang Yoon's main entrees and desserts. We did get a complimentary dessert of mango panna cotta and a banana cake with caramel ice cream - both were stellar.

Lukshon
Dinner Monday-Saturday
5:30PM - 10:30PM
310-202-6808

16 comments:

food je t'aime said...

If you eat those dandan noodles on a regular basis, I'm afraid you might lose some of your tastebuds. Your tongue would hate you.

mattatouille said...

I really wouldn't want to inspire hatred from my tongue. never a good idea.

Mika Takeuchi / Food Fashionista said...

Nice review & photos. I will be going in tomorrow and can't wait to try the dan dan mien. Cheers!

mattatouille said...

Mika,

Thanks for the comment. Hope you enjoy the meal tomorrow.

Matt

Burp and Slurp~! said...

Hell yes!!! I've been waiting and waiting for this place to open. I LOVE that my reporting class assigned me to Culver City. I MUST find a way to work this into my assignments.

rojiecheekz said...

I must add to my places to go when I'm in LA next week! :) I'll try to stop by Scoops Westside too and give you a shout!

the actor's diet said...

i can't wait to eat here!!!

mattatouille said...

sophia: thanks. culver city has a new gem that's worth seeking.

mattatouille said...

rose, definitely worth trying and then comparing to David Chang's fare. Perhaps not quite as inventive as momofuku though still very polished. Not sure which one I'd prefer at this point but I'm a hometown kinda guy. let me know when you stop by scoops! I think I still have your number

Dawei Cheng said...

why your food pictures are all over cook .... LOMO ? Unhappy ?

streetgourmetla said...

Oh, yeah, that's more like it. Thanks for the visual, I'd heard about the place, and now I'm for sure--IN!

Joshua Lurie said...

Looks like a very good start to an interesting restaurant. It's kind of amazing that we haven't had many cutting edge Asian concepts before given the demographics of the city.

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

i can't wait to try this place! those scallops look so good and banana caramel cake sold!

Evelina said...

I NEED to try this place. Thanks for a great write up and pictures!

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Matt- thanks for this, cannot wait to try. Also looking forward to trying Bill' Kim's cuisine when in Chicago next month, thanks for the tip, I have fallen for hansik and hansik fusion, hard.
LL

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