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My wife and I love to try new restaurants/cuisines, but our most recent dining experience was really special; it perfectly fit the connotation of a “hidden gem.” We ate at LSXO, a new southeast Asian restaurant hidden inside ANOTHER RESTAURANT, Bluegold, in Huntington Beach. There’s no sign, menu, or even a label on the door one uses to enter LSXO; only a trail of butterflies and dragonflies “escaping” from LSXO onto the ceiling of Bluegold gives the entrance away. Once inside, it is immediately apparently that you are no longer in Bluegold (even though you are); a totally different energy, staff (both kitchen and service), music playlist (90’s hip hop), ambiance (very minimal lighting, “Banksy-esque” artwork/wallpaper, etc.), and cuisine await brave explorers, which is exactly how we saw ourselves. I must admit, the food was incredible, and we had a wonderful time, but, in retrospect, I found myself wondering, “Why was this so exciting to us? Is this just a gimmick, or is there something more to it?”
Finding a hidden gem is an exciting prospect (pun intended), and I am starting to believe that these gems are hidden everywhere. The key to this experience was the feeling of being an “insider”; knowing things others didn’t, and entering a door others couldn’t (even though they can, but don’t realize it). I think this idea can be applied to companies/organizations, classrooms, individuals, or even discrete emotions or ideas, but the bottom line is that one never knows these hidden gems exist unless they are brave enough to look really closely, and possibly from a unique perspective. Then, all it takes is a little curiosity and courage to walk through the door.
I wonder how many diners have sat in Bluegold in recent months, never looking at the ceiling, tragically unaware of the new, unique experience that waited behind that unmarked door? How many times have you walked past that hallway, that unknown department, a new colleague (or even that “old” colleague you never introduced yourself to), an old memory, an idea/concept you are sure you’ve mastered, or even that student whom you may have decided is “just a normal kid” without finding those “butterflies on the ceiling?” They’re there…just keep hunting, and they will lead you to your hidden gems in no time.