02 February 2011

Lukshon = Happy

High Hopes Realized
Last night I was initiated into the world of opening night restaurant dining. I had high hopes for Lukshon, a modern Southeast Asian restaurant from Sang Yoon of Father's Office, and I wasn't disappointed. The restaurant was lively, the staff friendly and knowledgeable, the decor interesting and the food and drinks exciting. After the meal I found myself lulled into an extreme state of calm as I washed my hands in the restroom (the soap smelled SO good!) and the bathroom towels were soft and thick. These are just a couple of the noteworthy finishing touches on an already outstanding experience. It's all in the details, and at Lukshon nothing was overlooked.

Lukshon delivered everything I look for in a restaurant and I left with a smile that's still going strong. The restaurant now occupies the place in my brain that that stores feelings of contentment and elation. For me Lukshon is now a happy equivalent. Don't be surprised if I start asking if you're feeling Lukshon this morning, or reminding you that a little chocolate might make you feel Lukshon, or even suggesting that if you're feeling blue, you might just head to Lukshon. In short, Lukshon = Happy.

I'll detail the process of this transformation with a summary of my night at Lukshon, but to start, I'll share the mathematical process that leads to Lukshon = Happy.

Lukshon = Happy
Bathroom soap smells amazing, lulls me into a state of extreme relaxation + Bathroom towels soft and thick + Free still or sparkling water + Complimentary dessert
Interesting design by Ana Henton of Mass Architecture & Design (Intelligentsia Venice) + Patio has a firepit+ Upbeat but soothing music +Free parking on street or in lot + Lively but not too loud
Food and Drink
Delicious, creative food + Fantastic cocktails, balanced flavors and in the land of $19 cocktails, $11 feels really fair (oh, and by the way, I've never had a better cocktail) + Interesting, well-edited wine list with fair mark-up on wines
Friendly, knowledgeable staff + Promptly seated

A Night at Lukshon
We were greeted with a warm welcome and were quickly led to our table on the patio where we were offered still or sparkling house water, a nice touch.


The menus were simple, clean, concise. We were tempted by everything -- beers, wines "on tap", cocktails that use fresh Southeast Asian-inspired ingredients, a selection of interesting liquors and mixers, teas, and dishes categorized as raw, small, large, noodles, rice, sides -- but after a difficult process finally selected two cocktails, a raw dish, two small plates, a noodle entree and a rice bowl.

Left to right: Lukshon Sour and Yokohama Romance

We ordered the first two cocktails on the list: Lukshon Sour, $11 and Yokohama Romance, $11. Both are amazing drinks, but the Yokohama Romance was my favorite. It was flavorful and perfectly balanced with a hint of sweetness. Lukshon Sour, made with Michter's rye, lemon, tamarind and palm sugar, was tart with a hint of saltiness and a fresh citrus aroma.

 Spanish Mackerel
We started with an appetizer of raw Spanish Mackerel, coconut vinegar, jalapeno, lemongrass, and green papaya, $14.  This dish offered balanced textures (crisp vegetables, softer fish), colors (reds and greens) and flavors (with equal weight given to the mackerel's fishiness, vinegar's acidity, papaya's green fruit and jalapeno's spice).

Foie Gras Ganache

Next we treated ourselves to the Foie Gras Ganache dusted in carob, Ceylon cinnamon, puffed rice, almond, and a pinch of salt on a tamarind gastrique, $16. If you like foie gras, you have to try this dish. Simultaneously light and rich, the foie gras ganache's smooth texture was balanced with crisp rice and crunchy almonds. This is one of the best foie gras preparations I've tried.

2006 Charles Schleret Cuvee Reserve Sylvaner

We hadn't planned to have wine, but the foie gras begged to be paired with an acidic white. The wine list is well-edited and presents a strong selection of Alsatian and German whites -- some of my favorites and perfect for the cuisine -- in a nice range of price points. The 2006 Charles Schleret Cuvee Reserve Sylvaner provided excellent value at $35. It was refreshing to actually enjoy a wine at this price point! It boasted neutral fruit and minerality that paired perfectly with our next dish.

X.O. Rice and Lamb Sausage Roti Canai

Our next two dishes were X.O. Rice, a fried rice made with jasmine rice and house-made X.O. sauce, $9, and Lamb Sausage Roti Canai with cumin and mint, and a side of pickled cauliflower, $14. The lamb was flavorful and the bread was buttery, flaky and thick. The dish was rich, but not overly so, and paired perfectly with our Alsatian Sylvaner.

Dan Dan Noodles
Our final savory plate was the Dan Dan Noodles with kurobuta pork, sesame, Sichuan peppercorns, preserved mustard greens, and peanuts, $12. This dish was a more approachable version of a Sichuan dish I tried in San Gabriel Valley. The peppercorn isn't hot, but creates an unusual mouth-numbing sensation. My husband enjoyed the way the wine flooded his mouth after being cleansed of sensation from the peppercorns, but I found this dish difficult with the wine.

Kiwi Soup

The coda to our meal was a small, refreshing kiwi soup with frozen, sweet, thick, tart yogurt, compliments of the house. This was the perfect way to end the meal: a bite of something sweet but not too rich.

I enjoyed everything I tried, but I'll return for the Yokohama Romance, Foie Gras Ganache and Lamb Roti Canai. The food, drinks, people and atmosphere worked in conjunction to create a fun and unforgettable evening. Try it yourself and watch your brain reevaluate the meaning of happiness where Happy = Lukshon.

Adapted from The Franklin Institute

3239 Helms Avenue
Culver City, CA 90034

1 comment:

  1. I want to go! I like their menu design; simple and stylish. Sounds like they put extra effort into their bathrooms too, nice, nothing turns me off more than going into a nice restaurant's bathroom and it looks like a McDonalds' stall! :)