Michael Pennick and Courtney Olson sit at the open kitchen bar at Lukshon… (Bret Hartman, For The Times )
The buzz has been so relentless about the new place by Father's Office founder Sang Yoon that, by the time he finally got the doors of his latest Culver City restaurant open, it was almost an anticlimax.
With blogs, Twitter, Facebook and print media all joining in, we've followed along as he found a space, refined the concept, hired a designer and put his first menu out there. What a difference from when he quietly took over an existing Santa Monica bar called Father's Office and launched the burger that set off a burger explosion in L.A.
FOR THE RECORD:
Lukshon restaurant: An article in the Feb. 25 Calendar section about the restaurant Lukshon in Culver City identified chef Sang Yoon as the founder of the bar Father's Office. The bar existed long before he took it over in 2002. Additionally, Yoon's last name was given in one reference as Yang. —
Walk by Father's Office 2.0 at the Helms complex in Culver City and, even on a rainy night, the outdoor terrace is packed with fans who have trekked all the way from the Valley or downtown and further afield to dig into that famous burger (no ketchup allowed).
Meanwhile, just up the street at Lukshon, Yang's nod to Southeast Asian and Chinese cuisines, it's quieter and decidedly more upscale, a grown-up restaurant for adventurers. Here, there are tables outside too, under big umbrellas. And there's a fire pit to warm diners before the chile-heat starts coming.
Inside, the room is chic and comfortable with cozy booths and tables on one side. On the other: the open kitchen and a communal table where you can drop in without a reservation to get a drink and maybe an order of the irresistible spicy chicken pops — sticky and delicious chicken wings with a ball of the spicy meat at the end of the bone.
It was hard work deciding what to order only because we all wanted everything. Yang has worked on the menu for a long time and it shows. Shrimp toasts are round, delectable bites to pop in the mouth and maybe enjoy with an Austrian or Slovenian white. Ask the engaging sommelier for advice.
I loved the Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with coconut milk, tapioca, Thai basil, chile and lime. Chiang Mai rice noodles are perfumed with curry and lemongrass and embellished with prawns and pig lovers' favorite ingredient, pork belly. Rice with house-made XO sauce disappeared in about two seconds, it was such a favorite at our table. So was the whole steamed fish cooked in black bean ghee.
At Lukshon, Sang Yoon steps out of the burger box and offers up a shining new restaurant steeped in the flavors of Southeast Asia. Be there.