Nestled in Culver City, Calif. in the Helms Bakery District lies a hybrid, gastronomic treasure.
On Helms Avenue, next to the already renowned gastropub Father’s Office, Lukshon stands as the district’s newest and most intriguing addition.
Upon entering Lukshon, you are immediately drawn to the dimly lit, inventive interior, highlighted by wooden wall panels and Southeast Asian designs.
Once inside, customers have four dining options: outside, on a cozy porch with a sleek fire pit; inside, at the kitchen counter; in the dining room, the most intimate section of the restaurant, with booths and small one-on-one tables; or in the foyer area, in the middle of the restaurant.
Created by Yang Soon, the same mastermind behind Father’s Office, Lukshon presents traditional Southeast Asian flavors in conjunction with a modern culinary approach.
Soon’s menu incorporates a diverse litany of gourmet creations that have Dutch, French and Portuguese influences, making the dishes nonpareil experiences.
The menu is broken up into “teas,” “raw,” “small,” “big,” “noodles,” “rice” and “sides,” cursory sub-menus with promising constituents.
It is separated into specific areas, but the chef is the one who decides the sequence of the customer’s order, making Lukshon’s clientele submit to the whims of the cook’s creative process. One might think of this as a bit of a gamble, but at Lukshon this twist adds to the excitement of the dining experience.
Just with the teas, you can discern Lukshon’s overall creative flavors. The dragon pearl jasmine supreme stands out with its alluring jasmine fragrance and a peculiar taste that obfuscates the senses, since the tea tastes exactly how it smells.
Moving on to the heavier fare, the beef tartare trumps the list of raw dish options with its moist texture and its fresh, herbal tang.
Presented on a delicately sliced cucumber that adds a brisk, watery kick, the beef tartare is an appealing dish to kick off the Lukshon experience.
The “small” options also pack satisfying punches, especially the shrimp toast and spicy chicken pops.
The shrimp toast is a modified recipe, as the formula calls for shrimp and croutons deep-fried together with a spice sauce drizzled atop.
This creates an initially atypical flavor not associated with a shrimp dish, but one that is surprisingly attractive.
Brought to the table like a platter of lollipops, the spicy chicken pops are an intriguing appetizer.
The minute cutlets of chicken crunch like candy, with a hint of sweetness too, but overwhelm the taste buds with an acute spiciness.
Next up is Lukshon’s diverse array of entrees, which brings compelling options to the table, like the short rib rendang and the garlic pork belly.
The former comes accompanied with square, coconut rice cakes, pea tendrils and cilantro.
The short rib slices almost melt in your mouth, and have a deceivingly milky texture.
The meat lacks genuine taste, however, and is quite boring, failing to match the rousing qualities of Lukshon’s other selections.
The garlic pork belly, though, is a stunning surprise. The garlic is not too strong, and the meat works in conjunction with greens and cylindrical rice cakes to produce an uncanny combination.
To top this, Lukshon presents arguably its most notorious dish: the dan dan noodles.
The waiters and waitresses issue caveats with regard to this dish — once you eat it, you will not be able to taste anything for the rest of the meal.
At first, the nefarious noodles tingle the tongue and resonate throughout the mouth with a subtle zest.
After several bites, though, the tongue becomes numb and the insides of the mouth rage with what feels like a merciless inferno.
The dining experience comes to an end with two complimentary, shot-size desserts: a kiwi soup and a mango panna cotta.
Both desserts contain rushing waves of fruity flavor, the former a little too much, and the latter more on the lighter side.
And as a dessert encore, Lukshon offers coffee.
One of Lukshon’s coffees is an iced Vietnamese blend chilled for 18 hours that could hold its own against coffee drinks from Intelligentsia.
The iced Vietnamese coffee strikes fiercely with a strong oak taste, but it is addictive, and as soon as the first sip comes, the last sip is soon to follow.
Lukshon, Yang Soon’s inventive brainchild, is a masterpiece of a restaurant, offering complimentary services, sundry gourmet dishes and creative cooks, not to mention cordial employees and an appealing, lustrous vibe and design.
Lukshon is located on 3239 Helms Ave., Culver City. It is open for dinner Monday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.