99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Lukshon

photo by Anne Fishbein

The modern Asian restaurant has been done so badly so often that it’s beyond refreshing to see it done well — in fact, it’s almost a revelation. Indeed, with Lukshon, chef/owner Sang Yoon has basically perfected the concept, as long as you’re willing to buy into his vision wholeheartedly. Located in the Helms Bakery complex next to his beer bar, Father’s Office, and across the way from his coming food hall/bakery project with Sherry Yard, Lukshon is one man’s singular vision of what a restaurant should be, and that man doesn’t really care if you concur or not. Thankfully, we fully concur. It’s hard to get in a visit without succumbing to longtime favorite dishes like the outstanding dan dan noodles, which sizzle with Sichuan peppercorns and pack a savory wallop of sesame and peanuts; or the gooey Chinese eggplant, slathered with fennel raita and tomato sambal. Raw fish dishes, such as fluke sashimi with black sesame oil, spicy avocado and pickled orange, or the gorgeous, glossy Hawaiian butterfish, cannot be oversold. The food is highly flavored, there are no substitutions or modifications, children are discouraged, and the wine list is built for food, not name recognition (it’s actually one of the best lists in the city if you’re willing to give yourself over to it, and incredibly well-priced to boot). Timid palates and sticklers for the customer-is-always-right mantra probably ought to stay away. That’s all right. More room for the rest of us.

-- Besha Rodell