I started my dining experience at Lukshon in Culver City by arriving a few minutes earlier to try the cocktails. I ordered The Lukshon Sour, because it seemed like the safest cocktail on the bar menu. I love this type of “Long Island Iced tea” knowing that it isn’t a tea, but a tantalizing concoction of whiskey, tangy tamarind, and the tarty calamansi (a citrus from the Philippines). Then, the rude awakening came after I took a few sips of Yokohama Romance from a friend. It’s sweet yet surprisingly potent. The biggest shocker was a sip of the Fujian Cure. This mind blowing cocktail tasted like a smoked maple bacon to me. As soon as we were seated, our table conversation was endless about being single and dating. Of course, it’s always the #1 topic when a group of single women dine together. One woman’s dating successes in Los Angeles is another woman’s frustration. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I personally wanted to talk about baseball which is my favorite topic since it’s baseball season now. I was just as curious to know what everyone’s opinion on the negotiations to move the Sacramento Basketball team to Anaheim, California. It’s the biggest buzz talk in sports right now. The LA area already has the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Now, a possible third team? Screw the third basketball team talk! Let’s focus on bringing back football to the Los Angeles area instead! BRING BACK FOOTBALL! BRING BACK FOOTBALL! BRING BACK FOOTBALL IN LA!
“We gotta get the Chicken Pops; otherwise, I’m happy with whatever else we get,” said one person. “I’m happy with whatever we order, but so as long as we get one seafood dish,” said another. "Actually, I would be happy with everything too, but I would like to try the Short Rib Rendang,“ another gal added. I wanted to order the whole tilapia, but the Chiang Mai Noodles was the most intriguing dish to order on the menu. Besides, I love a coconut-based curry. Southeast Asian curries are the better tasting curries than the sour Thai curries, the sweet curries of Japan, and spicy heat Indian curries. Also, my curiosity in ordering this particular dish is to experience Chef Sang Yoon’s knowledge of curries. What does this dude know about curries anyway?
Our server was instantly bombarded with questions about the dishes. I was disappointed that the tilapia was not available, because I saw that it was the most ordered dish to come out of the kitchen. Eight dishes seemed fitting for a table of four and it would leave us with just enough room to order dessert. We also placed another round of cocktails and a pot of hot barley tea to warm us up. This time I ordered the Hot & Sour Gimlet, a cocktail made with chili, lime, and Thai Basil. I was glad that I ordered it, because I it turned out to be the best drink that paired well with the Asian flavors in our meal. The Hot & Sour Gimlet is like the Asian version of a mojito, but with a little spicy herbal kick to it. The Barley tea, on the other hand, was bottomless and soothing.
Out came the dishes from the kitchen, one by one.The timing was pretty good, the food was piping hot, and our server still looks like actor Taye Diggs’s younger brother. The Spicy Chicken Pops were quite good; they had hints of heat and lots of sweet dark soy sauce. I especially liked that the chicken wing drumettes were frenched, which is a butchering technique that exposes the bone from the meat. We always see technique with lamb chops, but what a ingenious way to try it on chicken to give it a “lollipop-look”. Very cool!
The last time I had an excellent Asian-style squid dish was at The Slanted Door in San Francisco, California. I’m thrilled that we have Lukshon here in the Los Angeles area, because I really enjoyed dining on the Baby Monterey Squid; a half and half of grilled and fried squid. Lukshon’s Baby Monterey Squid is divine. The sauce, which added a brightness, was made with a Vietnamese Corriander called Rau Ram. I never would have known that the squid was stuffed with sausage until our Server reminded us that it was. Chef Sang Yoon succeeded in bringing Asian elegance with this dish.
The Chiang Mai Curry Noodles was my all-time favorite dish of the evening. The last time I dined on the delectable large prawn was at well-known tapas bar called Cal Pep in Barcelona, Spain. “Oh my G**!” I blurted when I saw the bowl of Chiang Mai Curry Noodles touchdown at our dinner table. The prawn was bathing in a sea of creamy yellow coconut curry. No one else at our dinner table seemed to have a deeper understanding of what this combo was going to taste like. I imagined it a hundred time over in my head before taking a bite. “Damn, this is going to taste freakin’ good,” I said to myself. In fact, my dining companions seems a little too intimidated to touch the dish. I reckon that peeling and eating was just not their thing. Their loss and my gain. Yeah Baby, the prawn was going to be mine! I served my single gal pals more curry and noodles in their bowls so I could subtly emphasize my desire for the curry soaked prawn. I politely asked if anyone wanted it. Their shy replies said, “No”. So, I grabbed it, yanked the the head from the torso, and transcended into my own foodie world. So delicious! The prawn was perfectly steamed. There was plenty of meat, juice, and guts to dip and double dip into the bowl of creamy curry. Eating this was exactly how I imagined it. What a dreamy dish! I love it.
The Prince Edward Island Mussels is a dish that was just as illuminating as the Chiang Mai Curry Noodle dish. The lemongrass permeated the sauce, but it was the sweet starchy tapioca pearls that added the heavenly depth. The mussels were a goner in split seconds. I love this dish too, but I would have been fantastic if we had slices of toasted French baguette slices so we could soak up the sauce and eat it. It’s just one of those dishes that needed the bread. We laughed out loud when one of the gals demonstrated how she would devour this dish if she ate it by herself at home. To be honest, I think all singles dine that way at home.
3239 Helms Avenue
Culver City, CA 90232
Dinner reservations through www.opentable.com