Sunday, March 6, 2011

LA's "Haute" Asian Cuisine? Lukshon vs WP24 vs Red Medicine, Part 1: Lukshon

While high-end Asian restaurants are nothing new, they seem to be popping up even more than usual in Los Angeles lately. Some of them are branching out towards the Southeast Asian cuisine, as well. The openings of WP24, Red Medicine, and Lukshon in the past year were some of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in town. LAist's samkimsamkim suggested I do a post about all of them. Well, I guess I should, so here's a look at these three restaurants.

First, Lukshon. Sang Yoon gained his fame after opening Father's Office, and there was much excitement surrounding Lukshon, which recently opened two doors down from the 2nd FO in Culver City. Reservations fill up quickly, and don't bother walking in when it rains as they lose 1/3 of their seating area.

My meal started out strong with the Baby Monterey squid, chiang mai pork sausage, candlenut, mint, rau ram ($15)

Sausage-Stuffed Squid
Tender yet chewy squid, stuffed to the gills with spicy and juicy sausage, and topped with small pieces of fried calamari. This one's a must-try.

Foie Gras ganache, carob, ceylon cinnamon, tamarind gastrique, almond, puffed rice ($16)
I liked the tamarind here, but it's pretty hard to enjoy once the gastrique is gone - granted my companion would only eat half of a cube. I felt like I needed some toast.

Chicken lemongrass dumpling soup, superior broth, pea sprouts, 63' egg ($12)
Dumpling SoupGranted this was a very good dumpling soup, it wasn't special enough to warrant the difference between 3 (yes, there were only 3) dumplings for $12 instead of 12 dumplings for $3. I also found the egg yolk distracting from the rest of the flavors.

Kurobuta pork ribs, spicy chicory coffee bbq sauce ($19)
A full rack of fall-off-the-bone ribs, covered in a great bbq sauce. This one's a good value that you need to try.

Short Rib Rendang, malay spices, red chile lemongrass rempah, coconut cream ($32)
I ordered this after seeing JGold and the likes rave about how succulent this was, and succulent it was indeed. The short rib was incredibly tender and juicy (although I still can't justify paying $32 for a relatively inexpensive cut of meat). The "rendang" part, however, wasn't rendang. And it isn't just that it wasn't a stew, the flavors of the thick curry reminded me more of a japanese curry rather than rendang. That's not to say it wasn't good, because it still was.

Some sides:
X.O. Rice| jasmine rice, house-made xo sauce, long beans, egg ($10)

I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed this rice, both during the dinner and as my leftover lunch. It may seem like such a simple dish, but it was executed very well.

Wok charred baby eggplant, panch puran, tomato sambal, mint ($9)
Looks beautiful, but was forgettable.

On the plus side, your meals at Lukshon will always come with complimentary dessert (on the other hand, with my sweet tooth, I'd want to be able to pay for a bigger portion).
Desserts at Lukshon
Milk tea boba and Beijing yogurt
To sum up: the food here is very good. It is interesting and done well, and yes, to elevate asian food with good products is something to be excited about. On the other hand, the pricing is a hit-and-miss, especially when the service is absent. The $19 ribs are a good deal, but at over $3 per dumpling for the dumpling soup, I wouldn't be ordering it again. The $32 short rib I'll have to mull over as it was both very good and yet very expensive for the cut.

I'm glad I went, I'll probably go back, but it won't be very often.

3239 Helms Avenue
Culver City, CA 90034
(310) 202-6808
Lukshon on Urbanspoon

Next up: WP24 ...


The Thirsty Pig

Did you get a chance to try the dandan noodles? My friends didn't like the mouth numbing feel. .but I really liked it. . . .

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