Went for the first time. Good meal at a reasonable price. Reminded me of the Slanted Door in overall feel, but not as good. Reminded me of WP 24 for food, but not as nice.
Tea leaf salad. Not bad, but a disappointment. They took the Burmese classic and toned it down with lots of shredded cabbage, but they added nothing to make it special or refined. For me, it was clearly inferior to the tea leaf salads at Yoma and Daw Yee.
Butter fish. Chunks of raw fish with cubes of solidified coconut cream. Good. Presented well.
Wok fried broccoli. Fine, nothing special.
Crab fried rice. I liked this. Pretty basic.
Crispy whole fish. Good. Outside crispy, inside moist. There was a mild green sauce on the side that did little for me, but the fish was good even without sauce. Sautéed cucumbers with Szechuan pepper flavor was a good accompaniment.
Warm banana toffee cake. Best dish of the night. The cake was moist and rich with banana flavor.
Coconut dark chocolate rocks. Did little for me. Average chocolate shell around okay passionfruit ice cream. But looked pretty cool.
Had only gone twice shortly after it opened. I thought it was great b/c it was Asian fusion done “right” (high quality ingredients w/ an “authentic” flavor profile in an upscale setting). There are more restaurants that provide this now, but I think it was kind of rare a few yrs ago…
Both restaurants seem equally, and quite, Westernized to me. And I suspect, as far as demographics go, that most of last night’s diners at Lukshon would have felt right at home at the Slanted Door, and vice versa.
My feeling is that the quality of both restaurants is about the same (Michelin bib gourmand level, if you will). It probably comes down to personal preferences. The Slanted Door has lots of dishes that are right up my alley–the yuba noodles, the caramelized shrimp, the uni spoon, the spring rolls. Lukshon doesn’t.
I would say, objectively, that the bartending and service at the Slanted Door are much better than at Lukshon. I love to sit at the bar at the Slanted Door and drink cocktails and munch on my favorites.
You say a good meal at a reasonable prices…but your descriptions of the food make it sound like a quite poor meal to me?
It seems, from your description that 5/7 dishes were bad, 1/7 was passable, and 1/7 was good (a dessert).
This is genuinely your standard for a “good” meal, or perhaps you had a nice time with friends so the memory was pleasant regardless of the bad to mediocre food?
Personally, I would not be happy to eat a meal where the majority of the dishes were misses; sometimes I wonder if our general experiences with friends we eat with color our reviews.
I’ve always enjoyed myself at Lukshon, haven’t been in a long while though, and definitely would never have thought to call it the 9th best restaurant in LA like J Gold. Was curious to see another report on it…sounds like it’s gotten worse rather than better though. Makes me really wonder how it got bumped up by Gold so significantly.
I liked my meal. All the dishes were pretty good. Even the tea leaf salad was pretty good. I would go back for sure.
If my review sounded negative, it may have been because i chose this restaurant because it ranked #9 on J. Gold’s list of best restaurants in LA. For me, this restaurant was not near the top ten restaurants in LA. But it’s unquestionably a good, well-run restaurant. It was a good choice for dinner with my Thai girl date. She liked it okay.
She’s too nice for me to discern what she really likes. I’m pretty sure she likes Isaan Station. I think she likes Jitlada and Ruen Pair. But I can’t say for sure. Oh, she did volunteer Hoy Ka as a place she likes. I’ve never been.
Is Gold right that you are missing the point by comparing these dishes to their “authentic” counterparts? Probably so as I ate at Yoma the day after Lukshon. Still, one can have a very pleasant time at Lukshon.
The Tea Leaf Salad is not really a tea leaf salad imo, not in the Burmese sense anyway. It references the concept, but the focus is not on the tea leaves in this variant, but rather on well-sourced incredibly fresh cabbage. The background of the usual dish is flipped into the foreground here, as in a conceptual art piece. It looks similar, but to anyone that has had the Burmese dish, the intellectual play is apparent. Does that mean that the butterflied prawn cooked perfectly that tops it is an abomination? Certainly not. In fact, the salad is quite delicious, simply accenting the “forgotten” elements of the original. But it leaves out the peppers and the tomatoes, and is far more subdued. It seems almost like something one might find at Gjusta as opposed to Yoma. Should you hate Lukshon for this appropriation? For doing a poor version of a tea leaf salad? Probably not. It’s ostensible that Yoon is using elemental dishes as a canvas for a type of modern art, even if the end result is kind of high-end comfort food.
The Hawaiin Butterfish is essentially another salad. The butterfish is quite toothsome, though tender. The contrast of snow and tofu with the fresh greens is really excellent. The bursts of lime spheres are pleasantly thrilling on the palate, even if you wish there were more of them. It is a soul-satisfying salad encased in modernist scaffolding.
Cold sesame ramen with beef tongue is an awesome dish. Noodles are cooked perfectly to a chewy bite. Noodles are only done this well in the handful of the very best ramen joints, or very high-end places I feel. Just really nice. For whatever reason I feel I don’t see cold ramen that often, and this is just a spectacular rendition. Very savory, tender beef tongue, great crunch from the peanuts, and nuttiness from all the sesame. Again, it seems deceptively simple, but every elements feels very well-executed with great ingredients, and it really had that “craveable” factor when all put together. A wonderful dish.
Finally, dessert…Alkie really undersold the dessert I would say. The toffee cake was probably the best dish of the night. There seems to be an almost absurd amount going on with the desserts in general. This one has bruleed bananas, a spectacular banana custard, five-spice caramel over the toffee cake, and beautiful black tea ice cream. The cake itself is moist, and delectable. All together this is one of the most exciting, well-executed, and satisfying desserts in all of LA. Really showing off all these kind of Asian touches in a dessert that I thought had become passe by now that livened it up in a new way. Fantastic.
Is Lukshon the 9th best restaurant in LA? That seems unlikely. Yet it remains consistent, artistic, and delicious. I am not sure why it is not more crowded. This places makes for a superb place for a quiet dinner without the need for reservations just about any night of the week. The food plumbs the depths of the Asian bounty in LA, giving distinctive highlighting of the basal elements more often than not, yet never forgetting to make things taste good as some intellectual chefs might. Portions are quite generous despite the prices, and the ingredients seem to be of very high quality.
The alcohol list is also nice. Well-executed cocktails, and a smart wine list. A dessert wine from Jura was of particular note. Though I am not an alcohol expert. I found the drinking experience elevated, smart, and pleasant with the food, as well as reasonably priced.
I think Lukshon will turn off anyone not looking for subtle intellectual takes on Asian dishes, or who spend the majority of their time eating in the SGV, but for those that are interested in taking a look at the architecture of Asian cooking in LA, or those who just want a fine Asian-influenced meal without going east of the 110, Lukshon seems like it can hardly be beat.
Cassia feels much less “intellectual” to me, ditto little Sister. They both seem like they are going for basically “baller versions of Asian dishes”.
Like the SGV Special Banh Mi at Little Sister vs. the Thit Nuong Banh Mi at Saigon Sandwiches & Bakery for example: the LS banh mi is fucking balls-to-the-wall richness, super intensely fatty pork, on top of pork, on top of pate, etc… for someone like me, that is awesome as shit compared to the still very tasty, but more restrained banh mi at Saigon Bakery. It’s like dialing up everything in the elemental sandwich to extreme levels. Hence it turns off some people, and turns on others. Ditto with the inclusion of pork belly in the banh xeo for example. Or like, the laksa at Cassia is just rich and hearty and soulful, a fucking perfect laksa, not necessarily an intellectual take on the dish.
I will say this, there are some misses at Cassia for me, even though in general I love it, whereas Lukshon seems to keep quality more consistent. However, I’ve not really ever had something as mind-blowingly awesome as the Laksa at Cassia at Lukshon, so there are issues with the restraint there.
Curious what menu items you found heavy-handed? I do recall chicken pops and coffee ribs in the past that I felt were heavy-handed at Lukshon. But I was thinking more about the underpinnings of the dishes being subtle rather than the actual flavors, if that makes any sense, like you need to think about the tea leaf salad, its origins, and what Yoon is trying to go for to fully enjoy it imo, even though you could still enjoy it on a more basic level, you would be missing a certain portion of the dish without that intellectual component. I imagine that will be too much for a lot of diners.
Lukshon is approximately 137x easier to get into than Cassia tho =P