At Luc-San, every dish and every cocktail melds French and Japanese flavours. Barbequed prawns with seaweed and shiso come swimming in a traditional French butter sauce. The plum and strawberry Spritz mixes bubbles, Massenez strawberry liqueur, Pernod absinthe and plum wine.
“They’re my two favourite cuisines in the world," Mangan tells Broadsheet. "And they’re great flavours to bring together.” The celebrity chef has appeared on Masterchef Australia, and trained under Michelin-credentialed chef Michel Roux. He also ran Salt, an Australian restaurant in Tokyo that expanded to Singapore and Indonesia.
The sharing menu begins with a tight list of snacks. Tempura oysters are topped with wasabi and wakame. A tuna palmier is joined by Hokkaido scallop salad. And steak tartare rides a bite-size golden square of fried sushi rice. There are four robata skewers: pork, chicken, mushroom and Wagyu.
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For larger plates there’s crumbed pork slathered in miso-spiked sauce choron (a tomato-y version of bearnaise), and confit duck with burnt orange and ume (a tart Japanese fruit). Mangan’s pick of the dessert menu is a creamy, earthy fondant of white chocolate and green tea. Diners keen to adventure beyond the a la carte menu can opt for a six- or eight-course degustation.
The signature Martini features the French Summum vodka and Massenez lychee liqueur alongside shochu (a nutty Japanese spirit) pineapple and ginger. Also twisted is a Margarita: tequila is spiced up with Massenez chilli liqueur and espelette (a chilli grown in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in south-west France), then freshened with yuzu and cucumber. There’s also an impressive collection of sake, whiskey and French wine, many of which Mangan first sipped on his travels around Luc-San’s muses.
The moody 90-seat restaurant sits in a secretive spot on Penny’s Lane, beneath the Coca-Cola sign in Potts Point. Local design team Five Foot One Interiors chose a rich red for the ceiling, and grey walls frame a vast red terrazzo bar. There are timber-topped tables and a mural of a French and a Japanese woman, each in profile.
The eatery’s dual inspirations influenced its name. “Luc is the French version of Luke,” says Mangan. “When I used to walk into my restaurants in Japan, people would greet me by saying, ‘Welcome, Luke San’.”
Pennys Lane, Potts Point