Father’s Office probably serves one of the best hamburgers that I’ve ever had. It is right up there with Shake Shack and In-n-Out which represent two of the most delicious yet accessible hamburger places I’ve frequented multiple times. After eating at the Culver City location, I have to say that the rest of the food served there was pretty good as well, and I’ve been wanting to go back and have the hamburger again.
I was admittedly quite curious when I heard that Sang Yoon, the mastermind behind Father’s Office, had opened up a new restaurant a couple doors down from Father’s Office in Culver City called Lukshon. The curiosity quickly turned to skepticism when I found out that the cuisine leaned heavily toward Southeast Asian flavors executed with modern Asian flair. I was worried it would be all jumbled especially considering Sang Yoon is Korean. Nevertheless, my sister had already eaten there and seemed to have some very positive things to say, so I ended up going with Smooth Obturator and Triple T. Pdho and Sdho were originally going to join us, but Sdho’s flight ended up getting delayed and Pdho had another dinner to attend…. so what was supposed to be a NuHo Fiesta turned out to just be a H.o.P. eating-fest.
Like Father’s Office, Lukshon takes advantage of So Cal’s warm weather and has a pretty spacious patio dining set up outside. It was actually a little on the cool side this evening, but the heating lamps which line the entire overhang were on, so they delivered a great deal of warmth to keep us comfortable throughout the meal. The inside of the restaurant has a very clean and modern look with a mix of stand alone tables and booths as well as community seating, some of which face directly into the open kitchen. The restaurant wasn’t too crowded for a Friday evening.
The Shrimp Toast here is very inappropriately named especially after just eating the Shrimp Toast from Son of a Gun yesterday. Whatever comes to mind when you think of shrimp toast should actually be thrown out the window, because what you actually eat is quite the opposite of what you expect. It’s a little more toast and a lot less shrimp. I could barely discern any shrimp flavor from the filling since there seemed to be a falefal-like breadiness to it. The tiny croutons coating the outer surface of the shrimp ball made it nicely crunchy, but one bite into the ball revealed a little too much oil oozing from the center. The sweet chili sauce served on the side gave the Shrimp Toast some much needed flavor.
The Spicy Chicken Pops had an interesting presentation. The meat on the drum sticks was kind of pealed of the bone and gathered at one end, like a lollipop. The sauce coating the Spicy Chicken Pops was a mix of garlic, kecap manis, and Sichuan salt, but it didn’t really taste all that spicy. I found the sauce a little too sweet which was probably due to the kecap manis. It is a sweet soy sauce commonly used in Indonesian cuisine, and the palm-sugar based sweetness and thick consistency lent itself largely to how the Chicken Pops turned out. They were okay, but I could have used some rice to balance out the overwhelming flavor of the sauce.
The Brussels Sprouts, a little smaller than usual, were sauteed with a chili garlic vinaigrette and sesame seeds. Like the Spicy Chicken Pops, I thought the sauce was a little too overpowering. It was a little bit on the salty side, so I think if I had some rice, it would have been enough to help balance out the flavor of the sprouts.
The X.O. Rice was stir-fried jasmine rice with egg and long beans. The X.O. sauce gave a stronger taste than I’m used to having with fried rice, but I liked that distinct seafood-y taste. It was salty in a very complex yet interesting way.
The “Yam Neua” was probably one of the better dishes of the evening. Considering the rib eye steak was larger than a bite-sized portion, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to easily eat the lettuce cup, but the steak turned out to be perfectly tender and quite easy to chew. It was nicely seasoned and the radish, carrots, tomatoes and lettuce added some nice crunch and freshness. Although the herb vinaigrette seemed to be based on some fish sauce, it surprisingly was a little too subtle. With this dish, I would have preferred a little stronger sour fishy taste as it would have only highlighted the entire lettuce cup.
The Short Rib Rendeng was probably the most decadently delicious dish in large part because the short rib meat just melted in your mouth. It really was that soft. I couldn’t tell if it was the rich marbling with fat inherent in the meat or the slow braising that made the meat taste to so tender, and unctuous. I’m sure it was probably a little of both. Triple T was not keen on the fatty texture of the meat, and although I felt quite guilty with each bite, I, along with my brother, managed to eat quite a bit of it. In spite of the very subtle coconut flavor in the rice cake, I really enjoyed the soft yet crispy texture of the rice cake. It really helped to balance the meatiness of the short ribs.
The dessert was actually complimentary and included in the meal. It was a Dessert Trio made of (from left to right) a Sweet Potato Cheesecake with a guava sorbet, a Black Sesame Shortbread with passion fruit ice cream and mini sesame cookies, and a Coconut Panna Cotta with mango sorbet and a white chocolate feulletine. I really liked all of them. They were similar in that all three were pretty light and fruity while not being too sweet. They also all had something crunchy to contrast the creaminess of the other components. However, each one highlighted a different tropical fruit and had a unique flavor combination. I don’t think I could pick out a favorite of the three, but I really liked the crispiness of the white chocolate feulletine. It kind of had a texture similar to a Nestle Crunch bar.
Overall, I did think the food was better than I expected it to be. In spite of my initial skepticism of Sang Yoon’s ability to execute on the modern Southeast Asian concept, it actually ended up tasting pretty good. The food and cuisine are thousands of miles (literally) from Father’s Office gastropub fare, but it shares a similar refined quality. Although some of the dishes had some really strong flavors or overwhelming bit of sauciness, a little side of plain jasmine rice (or some more of the crispy rice cakes) would have helped to balance it all out. I did think the desserts were quite tasty though. The flavor combinations, as a whole, were solid and the food tasted pretty good. The price is a little high than one is used to for Southeast Asian cuisine, but it would be worth checking out at least once.
3239 Helms Ave.
Culver City, CA 90034
PAFO Ratings for Lukshon:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars