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Food

Delicious Spree LA to Z...B is for Beacon

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LAist is going on a delicious spree around LA from A to Z. This week, the buzz is about the letter B. We visit Beacon in Culver City today.

The lunch menu at Beacon is smartly organized, but it hints at an identity crisis because there are so many categories: small plates, large plates, soups, salads and sandwiches, noodles, sushi and sashimi. Though it is an asian cafe, some of the dishes are purely asian, some are fusion, and some are downright burgers. You can’t go to Ruth’s Chris and order a roast chicken, and you can’t go to Beacon, "an asian cafe" and order a burger and fries. We wasn't at all turned on by the noodles or sushi, and wondered if anyone would come to Beacon over say, a ramen house or a sushi bar.

We started with the green bean and smoked tofu salad, which was a little too tart, especially since we were expecting a sweet, creamy dressing. Perhaps it was the banyuls of the banyuls-sesame dressing. We wouldn’t order it again. However, though they weren’t sensational, the crispy vegetable springrolls we would order again. They were screaming hot, straight to the table from the fryer, so the paper thin skins were still flaky crisp. The filling was a little squishy for our taste, but perhaps that was better for soaking the fairly thin sweet and sour sauce. They weren't the best springrolls LAist has ever tasted, but hey, they’re deep-fried.

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Who knew a salad could ever be so pornographic? The shiitake, porcini, and other mushrooms were tossed in with the greens, but the mass of hon shimeiji mushrooms lounging on top with its enormous mushroom heads sprawled out was just so x-rated. The rest of the salad is innocent. Like the green beans, the yuzu dressing was tart. However, it didn’t seem quite as sharp; a kick came instead, from togarashi-spiced almonds. What we thought were diced pineapples around the edge of the plate turned out to be manchego cheese, not melted, but warmed enough only until just glossy opaque.

We were pleasantly surprised by miso-marinated black cod. The flesh fell apart into slippery flakes that were sweet and mild, and not at all overpowered by the miso. We couldn’t identify the yellow sauce on the plate that we were expecting to taste like mustard, but was sweet. The greens beans were in perfectly perpendicular Lincoln Log stacks, and tasted like they had the same yellow sauce. This is the flavor we were expecting on the green bean salad in the beginning.

We couldn’t resist ordering a side of french fries. And that’s all that needs to be said about that.

Though it was lunch, we ordered dessert, even if only for a taste. The dessert menu is a mix of zen-Asian, Japanese, and American. Is the Rice Krispy sundae American because it’s a sundae, or is it Asian because the Rice Krispy treats are made with...rice? That’s stretching it a little too far. We ordered the coconut rice and mango brulee. It was passable, though we doubt we'd order it again. In fact, we would probably pass on Beacon’s dessert menu altogether.

Overall, Beacon has good food, a clean atmosphere, and not too expensive at $28 per person. That is, however, for lunch. It's a nice place to take a client or a friend for lunch if you work in Culver City, but we're not so sure Beacon will be a regular nighttime destination for unless we happen to be in the area.

Beacon
3280 Helms Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 838-7500
www.beacon-la.com