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Lukshon Culver City

b
bigelectriccat Feb 2, 2011 02:42 PM

Lukshon has officially opened and I will tell you all about it now.

Eating spicy foods gives you Technicolor dreams. Trust me I know from global experience.

West side fans of the San Gabriel Valley Chinese scene unite, no more worrying about traffic, we don't have to leave town anymore, our fix is in. Located in the Helms Bakery building 3239 Helms Avenue in Culver City.

Let's get to the food.

Duck Popiah, savory juicy tender duckling in a rice paper wrapper, country tenderness and herb speckled joy. Savory not sweet., thank you chef.

Scallops, A large portion of the freshest scallops you can get IF you have the right connections.
This is one of the best sushi sashimi crudo plates in town, spicy and delicious and beyond fresh.

The Pickled Mackerel, authentic...like "you can only get this in Cambodia at someone's mom's house in the country, never at a restaurant." type of authentic. Cured and tangy sour but super balanced. Upriver, Mekong River, fine dining.

Rendang Short Ribs, You'd never guess that a healthy spice rub followed by a two day water bath would do such wonders because you'd never think of it. Amazing reinvention of meat. Soft, rich and decadent. A must have any night.

Order the Yum Choy Sum for a healthy snappy side dish to accompany the short ribs. They go perfectly together. Add the XO Rice and you have the go to staple meal.

The curry noodle bowl was thick and rich. Yellow curry and lemongrass, pork belly with a large prawn on rice noodles. YUMMY. But rich so pair accordingly.

Black Rice and real good Chinese sausage topped w/ a perfectly fried egg. Amazing.

The chicken pops are ma-la szechuan, not only spicy, but numbing, spicy and fun, you could eat dozens, they're fantastic. Best Chicken Wings in the World. Ingeniously clean to eat and share.

The sound of the restaurant is gorgeous, you can hear the music, people talking all at correct levels, the gorgeous ceiling is also a sound dampener and Lukshon has the best sound of any restaurant I can remember. Feels like a French movie. Looks like a London Chinese restaurant, tres chic and simple.

On to more food.

Baby Squid with Chiang Mai Sausage are the tenderest little squid stuffed with a home-made sausage from northern thailand. Another perfectly balanced creation that could be a starter no matter what you plan on ordering after.

PEI Mussels have the best green sauce ever. If you had a baguette you'd be slurping and dipping until the bowl was dishwasher clean.

Dan Dan Mein, is again ma-la szechuan, and once you go ma-la you can't go back. Don't open with this...save until the later half of meal. Some of the best in town no doubt and for the Westside of Los Angeles there isn't even anything to discuss. Hands down the best. Full stop.

Just know that once you eat a bowl of the Dan Dan you will have trouble tasting anything else you eat unless you get yourself a nice grand cru gewurztraminer. From there it's onward and upward.

The free dessert is a very nice touch. It's just the thing to help you smile as you get up to go.

Lukshon is not Sawtelle and Olympic food. This is real deal, San Gabriel Valley and beyond (like get on a plane) fine dining.

Thank the wine guru for choosing fun zingy stuff like the riesling and the grand cru gewurztraminer because it is exactly what you will want and need with this meal. Or have a beer. Or on second thought have a Gimlet followed by a riesling followed by the gewurztraminer and maybe finish with a tea.

Party, party, party.

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Lukshon
3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

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  1. Servorg Feb 2, 2011 03:54 PM

    Sang Yoon strikes again...Will the FO haters give this place an unbiased try? It will be interesting to see. Thanks for the very complete review.

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    Lukshon
    3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

    1. wienermobile Feb 2, 2011 04:01 PM

      My son would like to dine with me, do you have to be over 21 like at Father's Office?

      1 Reply
      1. re: wienermobile
        b
        bigelectriccat Feb 2, 2011 06:51 PM

        No Age Limit that I could discern. It is not a bar so a booth or a table on the patio would probably be great.

      2. b
        bruinike Feb 2, 2011 04:45 PM

        Thanks for the report! How was the pricing at the restaurant? Hope to try it next week!

        1 Reply
        1. re: bruinike
          b
          bigelectriccat Feb 2, 2011 06:49 PM

          Smaller dishes in the $10-15 range and main courses in the $20-35 range. Dinner for three (8 dishes, two $45 bottles of wine, 2 cocktails and a beer) came out to just over $200.

        2. J.L. Feb 2, 2011 04:50 PM

          Let me get this straight... You unequivocally liked every single dish? Not even a single "meh"?!

          1. b
            bigelectriccat Feb 2, 2011 07:18 PM

            TO J.L.,

            I've gotten a few emails from you but cannot reply to you directly and your question is not appearing here on the board.

            The food I had was in fact all good. There was nothing "meh". I'm not a home teamer and am not a family member and am trying to give an honest assessment of my meal. Someone will pick on something for sure but the menu is fun and the food was exceptional.

            To each his own though so see what you think by going in without a res and sit at the bar and order a drink and an appetizer to have your own opinion.

            Hope you like it as well.

            1. m
              maudies5 Feb 2, 2011 08:13 PM

              'Lukshon is not Sawtelle and Olympic food. This is real deal,'

              I believe that a lot of the food on Sawtelle is the "real deal."

              1 Reply
              1. re: maudies5
                b
                bigelectriccat Feb 2, 2011 08:43 PM

                My apologies.

                I meant to say that it was different than the ramen and sushi found in and around the S&O area.

                "Real Deal" was a misnomer.

              2. j
                joshekg Feb 3, 2011 11:27 AM

                OK, I went here last night and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The pacing of the food was a bit off and there were a few issues with some of the dishes, but overall a good experience.

                I had the following:

                Beef Tartare, this was beef tartare with some spices served on top of pickled cucumber slices. It was very good, but difficult to pickup so we just ended up using our hands.

                Chicken Pops, nice spicy and sweet chicken drumsticks. These would be good for superbowl sunday.

                Lamb Sausage Roti Canai - Nice crispy roti topped with lamb sausage. The lamb sausage was lukewarm on ours, but still was a good dish. Tasted great dipped in the green curry from the mussels.

                Curry Noodles - a bowl of curry noodles with pork belly and 1 prawn. The prawn in this dish came completely cold and I thought there should have been two as it is difficult to share a prawn with somebody. In addition, there was not enough curry for the noodles. I prefer the curry noodles at indo cafe.

                Mussels in Green Curry - this was probably the best dish of the night. Nice tender mussels in a very well balanced green curry. The servers kept wanting to take the bowl away since the mussels were done, but we kept it at the table so that we could use the curry on some rice and dip the roti in it.

                Beef Rendang - sous vide cooked short ribs with a little bit of rendang sauce served with some glutinous rice cakes. I didn't think the meat took on enough 'rendang' flavor. I'd take the beef rendang from indo cafe mixed with these rice cakes to make a better dish.

                Yu Chan with Virginia Ham, this was a good vegetable side that was good for cutting through some of the richness of the other dishes. The ham tasted like Benton's to me, though that would make it TN ham not Virginia.

                The drinks were good and the servers were friendly, but the pacing and order of the dishes was off. Our dishes came out in this order, some with a long wait in between:

                Beef Tartare
                Mussels in Green Curry
                Chicken Pops
                Curry Noodles
                Roti Canai
                Steamed Rice
                Yu Chan
                Beef Rendang

                I definitely will go back - I just hope the pacing issues get worked out over the next few weeks.

                1 Reply
                1. re: joshekg
                  b
                  bulavinaka Feb 5, 2011 12:24 PM

                  I don't know if Sang Yoon is aware of pacing being an issue in general. I've found this to be the same at FO. Granted, it's technically are bar, but still - a great bar that serves wonderful food that is unwonderfully paced. :) Hopefully enough diners will address this at his real actual restaurant, where, IMHO, it should be an issue that is relevant.

                  I'm initially drawn by the menu items being inspired by if not taken directly from SE Asia, but it seems you've referred more than once that you prefer Indo Cafe's version. So can I for now assume that the number of SE Asian food places is still relatively thin?

                  -----
                  Indo Cafe
                  10430 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                2. b
                  bsquared2 Feb 4, 2011 08:19 PM

                  Jeez, I couldn't believe this place. Had probably one of the rudest experiences I've ever had at a restaurant.

                  Wanted to take the family there to celebrate Lunar New Year. I've always liked Father's Office and I was curious. Made reservations for 6pm because I figured it wouldn't be crowded. When we arrived they looked happy to see me, when they saw we had a child, their smiles turned to frowns. Even though we had made reservations days in advance, they told us we needed to sit out on the patio even though the inside was empty. When I pointed out that it was around 50 degrees and windy outside, they went inside and said it was OK if we wanted to leave.

                  The person who was seating us said "we don't have high chairs, we don't have booster seats, we don't have a kid's menu. This is not a 'kid-friendly' restaurant". My jaw was on the floor. I wasn't expecting Chuck E Cheese, but I've never had a restaurant basically turn away my business. Right after we left, they sent me an email canceling my reservation. They didn't waste any time.

                  If this place doesn't like kids, maybe they should say that on the website. A notice like "kids not welcome" or something like that. Even though I think the food looked interesting, I couldn't believe the attitude I received. It was embarrassing to be belittled like that.

                  Wish I could report on the food. Can't say I will be going there anytime soon. Even if we get a babysitter :) Anybody else had an experience like that?

                  -----
                  Father's Office Bar
                  1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: bsquared2
                    o
                    odub Feb 5, 2011 09:46 AM

                    Astounding. And in Culver, no less. Well, we went to A-Frame with a six year old and there was no kids menu there either but they had no such attitude towards kids and several folks eating there all had kids with them.

                    Ha, someone should organize an all families outing to Lukshon, just to make a point. I think it's cool to NOT have high chairs and boosters but alienate your local demographic at your own peril.

                    Price-wise, if I read the OP's math right, without alcohol, it was more like $100 for the food? Not bad for 8 dishes.

                    -----
                    A-Frame
                    12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA

                    1. re: bsquared2
                      z
                      ZoeZ Feb 5, 2011 11:58 AM

                      This person who dealt out the 'we don't have high chairs' etc is discriminating and should be smacked or at least made aware of the fact they this is a public restaurant and such discrimination is not warranted and possibly illegal. What about getting a phone book for the kid to sit on. Nasty incident and feel bad for you bsquared2

                      1. re: ZoeZ
                        Servorg Feb 5, 2011 12:02 PM

                        I don't think they can be said to be discriminating against anyone unless they are providing one family with a high chair and refusing it to another family with the same need (even though they have another high chair available). Not having high chairs for anyone's child is treating all families equally.

                        1. re: Servorg
                          c
                          cls Feb 5, 2011 05:55 PM

                          equality and discrimination are two different things.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            a
                            AAQjr Feb 5, 2011 11:02 PM

                            Reminds me of Charlie Trotter's book 'Lessons in Excellence' where he talks about doing just this sort of thing purposefully. I believe he calls it 'firing your customers' or something like that.

                        2. re: bsquared2
                          b
                          bulavinaka Feb 5, 2011 12:25 PM

                          Sorry to hear about your experience. We always take our kids (11 and eight) - do you think this would still be an issue?

                          1. re: bsquared2
                            soniabegonia Feb 5, 2011 10:17 PM

                            Went to Lukshon tonight for an early dinner. I found it ironic that there were 3 families there w/ kids - ranging from about 6-10 yrs. This was particularly curious after having read this post and the fact that I generally don't see too many kids in these types of establishments. I didn't see even a hint of attitude towards any of the kids or their adults. Perhaps someone in charge there read this post and the staff got a talking to.

                            We got impeccable service and the food was overall very good. There were some things that were meh, others that were quite nice. The mackerel was just ok - thought the flavor of the fish got lost in the strong marinade. Also the portion was a bit small for the price - I think it was $12. Basically 1 smallish Spanish mackerel sliced into about 6-7 pieces and topped w/ a medley of very finely julienned veggies. The pork ribs were fabulous and tender with a punchy, vinegary, spicy sauce. The XO rice ok - nothing to get excited about. Dan Dan noodles were definitely a winner.. pleasant tingly and the ground meat saucy thing had a pleasant, almost creamy, bolognese-like consistency. I just wish it had come w/ just a bit more noodles. We were left w/ a lot of extra meat sauce so we topped the rice w/ it. Stuffed baby squids were complex and came w/ a tasty fresh pesto-like sauce (albeit too much of it). The only real loser of the evening was the yu choy sum - it was way salty and the ham just didn't work for me with the fish sauce.

                            As we were leaving, I noticed that the patio was nice & toasty from the ultra-modern overhead heaters so being seated there probably wouldn't have been the worst thing. There were plenty of people dining out there.

                            -----
                            Lukshon
                            3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

                            1. re: soniabegonia
                              J.L. Feb 5, 2011 11:56 PM

                              I, too, suspect someone on the Choi team saw bsquared2's post and promptly righted some wrongs...

                              The power of Chowhound is not to be underestimated.

                              1. re: J.L.
                                wienermobile Feb 6, 2011 08:17 AM

                                Don't you mean Chef Sang Yoon's team? Chef Choi is from A-Frame, Checo and Kogi.

                                -----
                                Kogi
                                Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

                                A-Frame
                                12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA

                                1. re: wienermobile
                                  J.L. Feb 6, 2011 08:59 AM

                                  D'oh! Brain fart! Just got back from Overland, so I had Chego on my mind.

                                  Yes, correct to Team Yoon... Thanks for pointing that out.

                                  -----
                                  Chego
                                  3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    b
                                    bulavinaka Feb 6, 2011 09:07 AM

                                    Totally understand the Freudian slip. I read your post and thought, "Choi? Maybe Senor J.L.-san meant Yoon - They're both stored in the same general portion of my memory banks - chefs with Asian roots, breaking new trails, setting their own rules, just in different ways."

                                2. re: J.L.
                                  b
                                  bsquared2 Feb 6, 2011 08:19 PM

                                  Well, I hope somebody from Lukshon read the post. I've been a F.O. fan and have been telling people about Lukshon for weeks before it opened. Maybe they were 'firing their customers', but in this economy, can anybody afford to do that.

                                  I wish I would have thought of A-Frame. If they are being a little more sensitive about people with kids, I would like to support them.

                                  I have to say, this experience really bummed me out. I've never had a restaurant treat us like that before. We made reservations and went early so we figured it wouldn't be crowded. Maybe they will change their attitude if enough people mention it.

                                  -----
                                  A-Frame
                                  12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA

                                  Lukshon
                                  3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

                                  1. re: bsquared2
                                    b
                                    bulavinaka Feb 6, 2011 09:20 PM

                                    We've been a number of times with our kids to A-Frame. Kids are allowed seating anywhere except at the bar. Our kids really like the outdoor benches - particularly by the fire pit. The staff has always been very upbeat and kind to our kids.

                                    -----
                                    A-Frame
                                    12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA

                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                      o
                                      odub Feb 7, 2011 08:53 AM

                                      Yes, fire pit = big hit with kids. Albeit, kind of anxiety-inducing too.

                                3. re: soniabegonia
                                  b
                                  bsquared2 Feb 6, 2011 08:13 PM

                                  Normally, the patio would have been fine. It did seem to have a very modern set of heaters. It is important to note that it was really cold that night and the wind was blowing. It was just too cold to sit outside. Also, the inside was empty. That was the rub.

                                  1. re: soniabegonia
                                    Ciao Bob Feb 7, 2011 07:09 AM

                                    It is funny you mention a bolognese comparison with the dan dan mein. I kept calling the curry noodle dish "Curry Carbonara." They are both great...easily the best asian noodle dishes on the Westside. Loving Lukshon alot so far.

                                    -----
                                    Lukshon
                                    3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                      soniabegonia Feb 7, 2011 09:54 AM

                                      I should emphasize that it was the consistency of a really well-made, simmered-in-milk-and-and-wine-for-a-really-long-time-until-creamy kind of bolognese. Not the quick-made, chunky & rough ground meat kind. I'll have to try that curry noodle dish next time.

                                    2. re: soniabegonia
                                      peppermonkey Feb 8, 2011 01:20 PM

                                      I also really enjoyed the beef rendang but was less impressed by the spanish mackeral and really did not enjoy the dan dan noodles which had too much schezuan pepper to the point where I thought I was at the dentist. The seat in front of the kitchen was very interesting since the chefs were literally an arms length away. The free desserts were also a nice touch

                                    3. re: bsquared2
                                      h
                                      hungryLAmommy Mar 12, 2011 02:01 PM

                                      I agree with bsquared2's review about rudeness. We were very excited about our first time at Lukshon and made an online reservation a week before our arrival. First, I will say that we were 15 minutes late because it was raining and we were held up in traffic. We walked in, were asked if we had a res (which we did) and then were told we would have to wait. There were only 2 parties in the dining room. We said that we had a res but the hostess (thin, blonde, short hair) said there was a couple ahead of us, we would have to wait, she didn't want to back up her kitchen staff, and we could go to the bar. Well, I don't drink so we just stood there and waited. Our arrival was not welcomed in any way and the hostess could care less that it was raining. Our food was excellent and our server was nice but the welcome was very off-putting. The whole steamed fish was very flavorful but you have to fend for yourself, which is not for everyone. The spanish mackerel was super yummy. I would not order the shrimp toast again - it was ok and reminded us of shrimp balls. The chang mai curry noodles were very good but we would have liked to find two shrimp (instead of one) as we shared this dish. Our advice on the complimentary dessert - tell them you are allergic to bananas and get two of the coffee desserts. The oversharp sauce for the banana ice cream did not compliment the ice cream in any way, shape or form. I am giving 4 stars for the food, 4 stars for the service, 0 stars for the rude and unwelcoming hostess.

                                      -----
                                      Lukshon
                                      3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034

                                      1. re: hungryLAmommy
                                        a
                                        AAQjr Mar 13, 2011 03:10 AM

                                        really?! I HATE Bannana's and I liked that dish.. IIRC it is a banana sorbet not ice cream and the sauce is tamarind based with a peanut butter crunchy pastry flakes

                                        1. re: hungryLAmommy
                                          i
                                          ilysla Mar 13, 2011 11:44 AM

                                          We had a similar problem, too (and I think we had the some hostess). 3 of our 4-person party were at the restaurant on-time. One was about 15 min late (coming from work in the South Bay). We had a wait a little bit after our 4th person arrived to be seated and the hostess specifically told us to delay our orders so that the kitchen wouldn't be backed up. We had no problem w/ doing that, but she was incredibly surly, curt, condescending about it.

                                          We were ready to hate the restaurant, but the food and waitstaff were fortunately excellent (we had the oysters, the roti canai, the coconut rice cakes, and a noodle dish.... think it had pork belly in it). I also really liked the banana dessert.

                                          They just need to tell the hostess to change her attitude. =P But I'd definitely would go back....

                                      2. Muhlyssa Feb 7, 2011 08:48 PM

                                        Gorgeous on every level. Baby Squid with Chiang Mai Sausage was delish. Had a Singapore Sling which was tasty but my companion adored the hot and spicy cocktail. Pretty quiet on a Monday night.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Muhlyssa
                                          lil mikey Feb 8, 2011 07:34 AM

                                          I also had the Singapore Sling, and its sweetness was a perfect accompaniment to the varied spices.

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