Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fancy Fusion

For several years now, we have enjoyed both the food and the drinks at chef Sang Yoon's gastropub Father's Office.

Earlier this year, the chef opened a new restaurant, just a few doors away from the Culver City branch of Father's Office.

Lukshon is more sohpisticated place, stylish and sleek, serving Asian-inspired re-imagined small plates. Old favorites of Asian cuisine and even street food are updated, turned inside-out, or re-invented.

The menu items are painstakingly described, with a list of ingredients that include things I've never heard of. Even the cocktails are made with specialized teas and herbs and garnished with exotic pickled delicacies.

There were three of us, and by the meal's end we shared eight plates. It was the perfect amount for variety, yet we felt we had dined well without being stuffed full.

The hostess recommended the tea leaf salad for a start, and this was a knockout. Here cabbage is tossed with nuts and crispy lentils in a dressing subtly flavored with tea. Only two prawns were served on top, though, and I let my guys have them.

This was followed by two protein dishes - the spicy chicken pops that have earned mass praise from Yelpsters to Jonathan Gold, and sweetbreads done "orange chicken style,"  which I haven't seen a single reviewer mention.
Spicy chicken pops
The pops are chicken wings formed into lollipops and glazed with a dark, sweet, salty sauce.

The sweetbreads are battered and fried just like the crispy little nuggets you buy at Panda Express, and served with orange slices. The treatment is perfect, as you crunch through the batter and release the creamy, savory flavor of the sweetbreads inside. I've never had sweetbreads before, and this was a wonderful introduction to them.

Next came perfect, tender brussels sprouts braised in garlic, chile and sesame vinaigrette - and if these don't make you rediscover brussels sprouts you're a lost cause.

Lamb belly roti canai
This was followed by another meat course - lamb belly roti canai. This sent me to wikipedia this morning, where I learned that roti canai is a Malaysian style flatbread influenced by Indian cuisine. Here, it was more like a crispy short-pastry, with the tender lamb arrayed on top along with chana dal, herbs and dollops of raita. A little dish of tiny pickled cauliflower florets was served alongside.

After these, we were still hungry enough to order a few more dishes.

Pork ribs
Kurobuta pork ribs were barbecued in a chicory coffee sauce, and served with a cabbagey-cucumber sesame flavored slaw. The sauce had a peculiar grit to it - surely it wasn't coffee grounds, was it?

Chunks of chinese eggplant and fennel were topped with crispy fried curls of more eggplant and cilantro.

Papaya salad
The only dish we got that resembled versions served in more conventional restaurants was Chef Yoon's take on Thai papaya salad - a long favorite of mine. Here the thin slivers of green papaya was served with peanuts and cherry tomatoes, just like at our favorite Thai restaurant in Malibu. It was fiercely spicy, though, a little too much for me.

As a nice trick at the end of the meal, the waiter tipped boiling water over three pill-shaped disks on a tray that turned into warm finger-towels for our sticky saucy hands. Cute!

Tiny complimentary desserts are served at the end of the meal - there's no mention of them on the menu, so I can't tell you exactly what they were but one was a mini pineapple upside-down cake, one was a mango-y custard, and the other was a delectable complexity topped with black sesame ice cream.

One thing I really appreciated about the service was the pacing. Although we initially ordered five dishes, the staff chose which order they arrived in, and how quickly - and it worked perfectly.

As we assessed the meal, we all agreed that the best dishes of the night were the lamb, the tea-leaf salad and the sweetbreads - with the sweetbreads being the real knock-out.

A crisp fruity riesling was the perfect accompaniment to such an array of spicy tastes.

The restaurant is very stylish, and provides seating options depending on your mood and interest. A side room holds comfy booths and two-top tables, while the main room has high-topped communal tables and a bar where you can watch the kitchen work. There's also a pretty outdoor patio for fair weather dining.

I'm a little sorry we didn't try some of the specialty rice dishes, or the noodles. But now I see that Lukshon is open for lunch, during the week, there will be plenty more opportunities to explore the menu.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

if these don't make you rediscover brussels sprouts

I preach the gospel of brussels sprouts to the S,N! crowd alla time.

But do they listen?!?!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I love sweetbreads... they kinda taste like marrow. You can usually get them at Argentine restaurants, quickly grilled, and served with chimichurri.

patti said...

Yum, oh yum. Except for the protein, I like vegetables.