This is most peoples' train of thought:
Sang Yoon --> Father's Office --> BURGER.
now we can add on --> Lukshon, because it is not only next door to Father's Office, but also a Sang Yoon establishment.
Ironically, I had my first Father's Office burger after my visit to Lukshon, so I really had no prior expectations of Sang Yoon. I just knew I was a lucky girl to be one of the first to try out his newest venture during a "friends and family" dinner. After much speculation that Lukshon would be a noodle bar, it turns out that it is actually a modern southeast Asian restaurant. Before the dinner, I'd heard everything from "Sang Yoon is very handsome" to "Sang Yoon is the David Chang of the west coast...maybe even a better chef."
Still, I had no idea I would be in for such a treat that night. Our table of six literally got a taste of almost every single dish on a menu. I didn't get pictures of everything we ate, but trust me, I've never experienced so many positive dishes on a single menu.
3239 Helms Ave.
Culver City, CA 90232
I tend to enjoy "girly" cocktails, but unfortunately, those tend to usually be on the sweet side. I started the meal with this singapore sling, and it was actually very well balanced. It was still girly and fruity with the pineapple juice, but not too sweet at all.
coconute vinegar, jalapeno, lemongrass, green papaya
Tasted exactly as it looked. I really appreciated how thinly sliced the green papaya strands were. It had all the typical flavors of a green papaya salad (which really went well with the fishiness of the mackerel), but the way the vegetables were prepped made it more delicate.
pickled cucumber, chiles, onion, herbs, aromatic rice powder
Loved that the tartar was served on little rounds of pickled cucumber, although they were a little difficult to pick up. Fantastic texture on the beef--not mushy at all. This was the first time I've ever had beef tartar with Asian flavors and I'll say it works!
rock shrimp, cilantro, chiles, tiny croutons
I'm always a fan of shrimp toast and these arrived in the unconventional shape of a ball. The sweet rock shrimp paste was rolled in tiny croutons before being deep fried. Tasty little balls.
baby monterey squid
chiang mai pork sausage, candlenut, mint, rau ram
The sausage stuffed inside the baby squid was such a nice surprise. Juicy and slightly sweet, the pork sausage was really the star of this dish, although the squid did provide a nice tender vessel for the meat. The tentacles are always my favorite part of any calamari dish, so I loved that the tentacles were fried and piled on top.
cilantro stems, pickled jicama, house-made hoisin chile sauce
The skin on these reminded me of the thin pancakes you get with Peking duck. Actually I guess the entire thing was kind of reminiscent of that, with the duck meat and hoisin sauce and all, but the pickled jicama added a nice crunchy texture.
spicy chicken pops
shelton farms' drumettes, garlic, kecap manis, spicy sichuan salt
These little frenched drumettes are the perfect thing to share family style, but you won't want to! The meat is gathered into a juicy ball at the end of the bone while the tangy sweet glaze and the dusting of spicy sichuan salt made these little flavor bombs tongue-numbing, yet addictive. I'm not sure why I'm so obsessed with these. I thought the flavors were great, and I could just barely handle the heat level, but really, it must just be because they were also so adorable!
kurobuta pork ribs
spicy chicory coffee bbq sauce
These were really nicely cooked ribs and the sauce was good--not too sweet or sticky. They just weren't the most exciting dish on the menu.
lamb sausage roti canai
chana dal, cumin, mint, pickled cauliflower
Too greasy. But tasty enough for me to want some again.
foie gras ganache
carob, ceylon cinnamon, tamarind gastrique, almond, puffed rice
This is one of the only dishes on the menu I'd say "PASS" to. It really nothing special. It looked and tasted like a cube of mildly flavored foie gras mousse. I know it's hard to say no to foie gras, but this just wasn't worth the stomach space.
prince edward island mussels
green chile rempah, coconut, tapioca, thai basil, lime
Some of the best mussels and best green curry I've ever had. There were surprisingly little pearls of tapioca (the kind you would usually find in Asian desserts) in the broth that were an interesting addition, and the mussels were fat and tender. I could've mopped up that curry with bread, rice, noodles, you name it. Heck, I would drink it straight, but I'm a lady.
sonoma lamb chops
market spices, herb butter
Really well-spiced, well-cooked lamb. You can't tell in this picture, but underneath that nicely charred surface is a bright pink and tender flesh. It's the most expensive entrée on the menu but if you love lamb, it's worth it.
short rib rendang
malay spices, red chile lemongrass rempah, coconut cream
That brown smear of sauce on the plate is amazing! I have no idea what is in it or what is it, but it really made the dish. The next best thing on the plate were the little crispy rice cakes. They look like hash browns, but they're really fried rice cakes! The crispy exterior had a texture that was just like McDonald's breakfast hash browns (which I LOVE) but the interior was soft, slightly sticky rice kernels formed into a square patty. I know the meat was probably supposed to be the star of the dish (and it was a meltingly tender, well-marbled piece of meat), but I just could not get over the rice cakes.
garlic pork belly
do ban jian, rice cakes, cabbage, garlic chives
I would say this is the entrée to get if you're only picking one. The pork belly wasn't too fatty, and the do ban jian was so flavorful it was kind of ridiculous. The rice cakes on their own were a little bland (which they usually are), but with the rest of the dish, it was a nice balance. It reminded me of the Shanghainese dish chao nian gao, but so much better!
wok charred baby eggplant
panch puran, tomato sambal, mint
We tried all of the sides on the menu, but my favorite was actually the eggplant, and I don't usually like eggplant. It wasn't cooked to mush and actually retained a nice firm texture. Although I'll be honest, I was so full by the point the sides came out, I was no longer sure of what I was putting in my mouth.
chiang mai curry noodles
yellow curry, lemongrass, pork belly, prawn, rice noodles
Based on its appearance, I wasn't expecting too much of this noodle dish. However, it ended up being one of my favorite dishes of the night. Sang Yoon must know his curries, because this yellow curry was also fantastic. I didn't get any of that giant prawn laying on top, but I didn't really need it. The noodles by themselves with the curry sauce was already delicious. The little crispy bits of shallots on top were also a nice textural addition.
kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, sichuan peppercorns, peanuts
If you're a bit of a spice wimp, STAY AWAY from the noodles! I'm still having nightmares about this dish. Supposedly the sichuan peppercorns are a mild numbing heat, rather than a straight up burning heat, but what I felt was more like a trip to the dentist. I felt like someone gave me a syringe full of local anesthesia on my tongue. It was tingling, and everything tasted weird after I had a bite of these noodles. Thankfully, it was the last dish we had. I've had plenty of dandan noodles, but I have never experienced such a peculiar sensation before. Having said that, the noodles were actually a very nice texture. I can't say much about the flavor because my tongue gave up on me after a few bites.
Eduardo, the sommelier, provided us with some fantastic Riesling pairings throughout the meal (and all the girls at the table were practically swooning over his charming manner and good looks). My family often pairs Rieslings with Chinese food, but the bottle of 2002 von Hövel Riesling Kabinett that Eduardo brought out was unbelievable. I might be in love...with the wine of course ;) It smelled of faintly of petroleum but tasted of sweet, ripe pineapple. However, he gave up on pairing a wine with the dandan noodles because of the spices and did a beer pairing instead. The beer was nice on its own, but it only aggravated my tongue more after my bite of dandan death. Yes, it was that bad for me.
Dessert is always complimentary and always random at Lukshon. That night, we got a kiwi jasmine soup with chunks of pineapple and a coconut pandan panna cotta with a sesame rice crisp. Both were refreshing and much needed after a meal of heavy flavors.
I really loved Lukshon. I really hated the dandan noodles, in fact, I might be scared of them. But really, it's the best pan-Asian, Asian-inspired, Asian-influenced, Asian fusion, straight-up Asian restaurant I've been to in a long time. It's rare for me to eat at a restaurant and then still be thinking about it days afterwards. All the flavors were really flavors that I just crave. I can't get that dou ban jian sauce out of my head, and I just want to pop chicken pops in my mouth all night. If you couldn't tell, I can't wait to go back.