Many restaurants in Los Angeles come up with gimmicks to set them apart from the others. Crustacean has a secret kitchen, where family recipes are kept hidden from the other chefs. The Bazaar deconstructs and rebuilds foods into unrecognizable versions of themselves.
I don't mind a good gimmick. I like to try new things. Lukshon, a new hotspot in the ever-gentrifying Culver City features prickly ash in some of their dishes. Prickly ash, also known as Sichuan peppercorn, once scared the bejesus out of me. I frequent Asian grocery stores, and once bought a packet of (delicious!) spicy peanuts. After a handful, my tongue went numb. I thought I was overdosing from MSG. And I kept on thinking that until I read Yelp reviews of Lukshon. People freaked out when their mouths went numb while eating their Chinese food. A light bulb went off. Prickly ash was the culprit mentioned in the reviews, and upon a Google Image search, it matched the spices in my peanut pack. MSG is my friend again. (I know, I know. Actually I don't. Why are we supposed to hate MSG again?)
As long as you know the numbness is coming, you can embrace and enjoy it. I like prickly ash. It's citrusy and spicy. Our server says that the medicinal qualities that numb the tongue also cleanse your palate, enabling the other spices in the dish to be appreciated on a deeper level.
It was a lovely dinner. Made even lovelier by my dining companion, the illustrious Caroline Giegerich of the Daily Marauder. My recommendation? The Dan Dan Noodles, Spicy Eggplant and Spicy Chicken pops. Bon appetit.