Edit: review updated on 5/27/11
Last night, we tried the newly opened Lukshon (as of Feb 1) in the Helms Bakery complex in Culver City. Lukshon is the creation of owner chef, Sang Yoon, of Father's Office fame. I believe it's his first venture outside of the two Father's Office locations in Los Angeles, and his first formal full service restaurant. I've been excited about this opening for awhile; I love the burgers and interesting side dishes at Father's Office, so I've been interested to see what Sang Yoon would do with a more expanded menu, especially with an Asian focus, given that he is Korean, after all. Few, if any, of the Father's Office menu items have any Asian influence to them, so it's definitely a very different direction for the chef. He is particularly meticulous with his cooking, carefully selecting and balancing every ingredient, as evidenced by his notorious refusal for any substitions or add-ins to his dishes (ie ketchup for burgers). Many people refuse to go to Father's Office for this reason; luckily I like his food as is.
The space is gorgeous; cleanly modern and cool with high ceilings, lots of smooth woods, cool lighting, textured glass, leather seating, gleaming white marble floors, a long bar with backlit wine bottles, semi-covered patio with open fire place and lucite chairs, and my favorite part, a soaring white open kitchen with white tiled walls and a white bar where diners can eat facing the kitchen. It looks like quite an expensive build-out. It's not a very big restaurant; the patio seats about as many people as the main dining area which are mainly booths, and then there are additional bar height seats at the bar, kitchen bar, and communal table in the bar area. We were initially seated outdoors. Despite plenty of overhead heat lamps, I still found it cold when the wind blew so I requested to be moved indoors, where we sat at the communal table in the middle of the bar, which was much better. It was also nice to be able to see all the action, which I find particularly interesting at a newly opened restaurant.
My only regret is that it was only the two of us, so we didn't get to try everything that we wanted off the menu. I think we ordered very well though, because I loved everything:
|Duck Popiah with hoisin|
|Chicken dumpling soup with 63 degree egg and fresh pea sprouts|
|Roti Canai with lamb sausage, corn, mint and pickled cauliflower|
|Okra and potato side with sambal|
|Dan Dan Noodles with Kurobuta pork and szechuan peppercorns|
|Ice cream in pineapple soup, salted chocolate, fortune cookie|
Service was pretty good; nothing to complain about. Each dish came out one at a time, served family style. All in all, the bill wasn't that bad, probably because we didn't order any real entrees, at $100 including tax and tip for the two of us. I enjoyed it more than the first incarnation of the now notorious Red Medicine at Test Kitchen (see here for the story, I think it makes the restaurant look dumb) I just found the flavors to be even more exciting and everything to be cooked a little better, much more consistent. I'm really looking forward to returning to Lukshon and trying more menu items.
Lukshon (reservations can be made on the website)
3239 Helms Avenue
Culver City, CA