Lukshon

LA seems to be infected with “yellow fever” for Asian food, or some interpretation of it.  With WP24, A-FrameRed Medicine, Aburiya Torinako, Spice Table, and now Lukshon, the LA scene is blowing up with all that is deliciously eastern in flavors and foods.

The restaurant is wonderfully sleek and modern.  The menu is not meant for vegetarians.  It’s full of meat and seafood starting off with a selection of raw and hot small plates.  Since Soprano Man is adverse to anything uncooked, we stuck with mostly cooked appetizers.  Our waiter suggested 2-3 selections from the “big” or entree sized category and then we supplemented with some rice, noodles, and vegetable sides.  I think we, or rather I, did a good job at ordering for our group of 5.  We found our meal quite balanced and everyone was full, but not ripping at the seams, at the end of the night.

Shrimp Toast rock shrimp, cilantro, chilies, tiny croutons

I would say our table is full of critics as tough, if not tougher, than the judges of Top Chef.  Unfortunately, we are definitely lacking anyone as hot as Padma in a bikini.  As soon as these lovely fried balls arrived to our table, some declared that these were not in fact toasts.  Ball or toast, nothing would prevent any of us from shoving these into our hungry pie holes.  The Attending (aka Tofu) did not appreciate much shrimp-iness.  This is true, the balls did feel like loosely composed shrimp plus extra fillers.  I still enjoyed the crispiness, overall flavor, and spicy tangy dipping sauce and would still order them again.

Beef Tartare pickled cucumbers, chiles, onions, herbs, aromatic rice powder

This reminded of the flavors found in larb, which is a dish of ground chicken, herbs, lime, chili, fish sauce, and rice powder.  The seasoning was much more subtle and refined.  Each bite was perfectly composed.  Soprano Man really missed out on this one.

Baby Monterey Squid chiang mai sausage, candlenut, rau ram

Everyone enjoyed Lukshon’s version of stuffed squid.  The legs were fried to a golden crisp, the bodies were stuffed with a nice Thai sausage, and all of this was sitting in a deliciously herbaceous sauce.  I highly recommend this one.

Spicy Chicken Pops shelton farms’ drumettes, garlic, kecap manis, spicy sichuan salt

These were some finger lickin’ good chicken pops!  Teety (aka WonTuan), Soprano Man, and The Attending complained that they were jipping us because the chicken legs frenched down to just a little nubbin of meat in the fashion of a lollipop.  We were all happy to get more than just one pop each.  The flavors were bold, spicy, and perfectly complemented but a few sprigs of mint and cilantro to brighten up the chicken.  I highly recommend this dish.

Lamb Sausage Roti Canai chana dal, cumin, mint, pickled cauliflower

I felt like I was eating a Southeast Asian version of a pizza.  While the roti canai was a bit greasy for the pizza dough, it served as a nice palate to build upon with the spicy lamb sausage and the more Indian flavors of the chana dal and cumin.  Teety kept buzzing in our ears like a nagging grandmother about how easy this would be to make at home and how very pedestrian the dish was.  I would agree that the dish was pretty simple, but it was still innovative.

X.O. Rice jasmine rice, house-made x.o. sauce, long beans, egg

The addition of x.o. sauce to the fried rice really gave it a punch of flavor which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The crunch of the long beans added great texture.

Whole Steamed Fish (sea bream) taiwan spinach, black bean ghee, sambal ijo

The fish was fresh and plentiful.  I hate when you order fish and you get some sad fish that’s more bones than meat.  The meat was tender and juicy, and the black bean ghee was delectably salty.  I tasted a generous use of butter in the sauce at the bottom of the plate which I didn’t think was appropriate for an Asian-style steamed fish.  Again, Teety, Soprano Man, and The Attending had to point out that the fish wasn’t anything too different than what you might get elsewhere.  They are just like rainbows and sunshine, those guys.  

Brussel Sprouts

The Pouter had to have her sprouts.  It’s a good thing she did because these were far tastier than the yu choy sum I ordered.  Soprano Man and I loved the wok hei on the sprouts.  I wondered what the secret was to getting such a nice roast or char on the sprouts without having them be mushy.  These were just as tasty, but maybe less fishy, than the version I had at Red Medicine.  This is a must side dish if you like brussel sprouts.

Yu Choy Sum aged ham, shoxing wine, garlic

Soprano Man kept insisting that this was Chinese broccoli but I kept denying him the pleasure of being right.  I don’t know what vegetable it was exactly, but I was pretty certain it wasn’t that just because the texture of the vegetable had less of a woody firm quality to the cooked stems.  In any case, it was a totally unremarkable stir fry of vegetables with ham.

Sonoma Lamb Chops market spices, herb butter

I liked the savory taste of spices and salt on the exterior of the chops.  I don’t think I appreciated the herb butter, but the meat was well cooked to a nice medium rare.  It didn’t have a very strong gamey taste for the non lamb eaters.  Each chop was pretty sizeable compared to other lamb chops I’ve had.  I think I still prefer the chops I had at A-Frame.  These were tasty, but I didn’t get a strong Southeast Asian influence in them, maybe because I didn’t get a chance to eat the herbs.

Short Rib Rendang malay spices, red chile lemongrass rempah, coconut cream

Everyone was going gaga for these.  The meat was sooo freaking tender, melting in your mouth without tons of fat.  The rendang sauce had a savory deep peanutty taste, it was truly special.  Those little hashbrown looking things were actually pan fried sticky rice laced with coconut flavor.  I’m not quite sure if they went together that well but both were tasty.  You have to get this dish for sure.

Heirloom Black Rice lap cheong, onion, roasted garlic, fried egg

It doesn’t seem like you can ever go wrong with the addition of a fried egg to anything.  The runny yolk, when broken and mixed through with the black fried rice made for a really moist luscious bowl of rice.  The rice itself definitely had more bite and texture than the previous rice dish, similar to brown rice.  There were whole cloves of roasted garlic that added such rich flavor.  Some of the cloves were a lot softer than others.  Beware of bad breath from this one!  I found the X.O. rice more flavorful.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles yellow curry, lemongrass, porkbelly, prawn, rice noodles

This was a tough dish to divvy up, but I did my best.  The noodles tasted fresh and the broth had the spiciness of curry, the creaminess from coconut, and a sourness from the lemongrass.  It was very interesting and everyone seemed to enjoy these noodles.  The prawn was too difficult to split so I ate by myself and it was pretty tasty and not overcooked.  I didn’t care for the crunchy noodles.

Dandan Noodles kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, sichuan peppercorns, peanuts

Everyone seemed disappointed with these noodles.  They had a heaviness to them without compensating with strong flavors like salt or spice.  I mean there was the ground peppercorns which added a grittiness to each bite like sand.  It also gave a subtle tingle to your mouth but I would not go so far as to say these noodles totally obliterated any feeling on my tongue.  The noodles could have been a little more al dente too.

Almond Cake

White Chocolate Mouse

Mango Lassi with Boba

Sorry for the lack of descriptors, but the dessert is complimentary and therefore not on the menu.  Teety was quite impressed by the free dessert.  Not because it was tasty, but because it was free.  The mango lassi reminded me of the Mighty Mango flavored Naked Juice smoothie with small tapioca balls, hardly boba.  The white chocolate mouse was pretty creamy, almost had a subtle cheese taste?  The almond cake was pretty good but there wasn’t enough to go around.  For being free, I thought they did a good job with dessert.

Lukshon by far outshines Red Medicine.  The food here is a lot more accessible and most importantly, filling, since portion size isn’t as dainty here.  The food is certainly heartier and more successful in its attempt to fuse the different Asian flavors in Southeast Asia.  I’m not as familiar with Malaysian and Indonesian flavor profiles as I am with Vietnamese so I may be wrong.  It’s hard to compare A-Frame in this mix since it comes at a much lower price point and the cuisine is a lot more casual and accessible.  The Attending and Soprano Man said they probably wouldn’t come back.  Although they liked the food, they didn’t think it was special enough to warrant another visit.  I would come back to bring other people to try out the restaurant.  I got too many other restaurants on my list to try!  But two thumbs up for bold exotic flavors executed successfully!

Lukshon

3239 Helms Ave

Culver City, CA 90232

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