Ready To Eat Some Incredibly Inventive Food? And Mystery Meat Too?
Sure you are!
I will share more details about the “mystery” dish shown above soon, but that plate of “culinary delight” is thanks to one of San Francisco’s most popular and delicious restaurants!
Yes, if you go to Liholiho Yacht Club’s social media sites, you’ll find this terrific logo and photo – and it’s for a good reason, because the food is worth celebrating – thanks to Chef/Owner Ravi Kapur!
My wife Alex and I ate there at the beginning of the New Year, and what a culinary adventure it was – beginning with getting a reservation!
Here’s how it works: reservations are only available 30 days out, and begin at midnight, so on December 3 at 12:01a, I went online to get us our Jan. 3 reservation: but guess what?
Not available yet!
Then I realized: December has THIRTY-ONE DAYS…so, the next night at precisely midnight, I went online again and got my reservation – exactly 30 days prior…let the countdown begin!
It was gorgeous when we arrived in San Francisco, and after a day walking the city, we headed to the restaurant, located just a few blocks off of the very popular Union Square.
We were greeted by a bright blue neon sign:
As I said, this is Chef Ravi Kapur’s restaurant, and here’s what they say about the origin of their name:
“Back in Hawaii in the early 80’s the Kealoha uncles would race Hobie Cats, and throw “pop up” parties to pay for their supplies. They would go to the beach, fire up the grill, ice down the beer, and get a band to play. They charged a modest price with the intention of making enough money to allow them to keep doing what they loved. They realized they needed a name for their ‘organization’, and the brothers — who lived on Liholiho street — decided to name it Liholiho Yacht Club. This is how the modern day LYC was born. We loved the name and the idea: Throw a party to allow you to keep doing what you love.”
In keeping with that spirit, the space has a hip, functional quality: and let’s give them a huge “Bravo” right off the bat, because we were seated a few minutes early!
That never happens at a restaurant this popular!
The open kitchen allows you to watch the food being prepared, and it comes fast and furious – in a good way: the staff is professional and expert at bringing you dishes quickly.
Chef Owner Ravi Kapur mixes Californian technique with the flavors of his native Hawaii,…but enough talk, let’s eat!
The menu is divided into three areas: snacks and small dishes on the upper left, appetizers on the right, and main dishes down below…and we had all three, beginning with popcorn!
My wife Alex loved the popcorn with butter and togarashi – a japanese mix of seaweed, spices and sesame seed – delicious to snack on as we perused the menu and made some choices:
We wanted to try two other dishes from the upper left menu: first up was Yellowtail Sashimi with kiwi, black sesame, citrus kasha and crushed cucumbers…
Two observations: first, the Yellowtail was meaty, which I love – it wasn’t a thin sushi slice, so it could handle the rich kiwi and chunks of cucumbers…delicious and refreshing.
Next up: Tongue!
Beef Tongue Poppy Seed Steamed Buns To Be Exact!
Wow. These “beef tongue” steamed buns were phenomenal.
More precisely, they were braised slices of beef tongue served inside poppy seed steamed buns with kimchi and cucumber, another “showstopper” to be sure!
This was just the first appearance of “unique meat” – but before we got to the next one, we had to have a salad first!
This salad included Delicata Squash with aged Gouda, Sunflower Seed Pesto, Kohlrabi and herb salad with ranch dressing….light and refreshing, with the chunks of Squash giving it a nice texture and body.
Now time for some seafood:
Yes, this incredible fish dish is Opah with a chili-honey rub, butter beans, broccoli di ciccio, mei qing choy and soy brown butter!
Very full of flavor, the fish is really meaty with lots of texture, and the butter beans have a smooth richness that has me starting to feel very satisfied – and full.
So that means it was time for:
The Mystery Meat!
Yes, Alex posted this shot of me pondering the next course: while I knew exactly what it was, it was fun to ponder – because it’s not on the menu!
This is SPAM!
I know, most of you have read my previous stories about Spam, but you must understand: it can be a delicious dish! Since Chef is from Hawaii, he no doubt has a family history of eating Spam, as it was a very important staple in the past…but “canned meat” doesn’t have to taste bad!
Of course, this meat NEVER saw the inside of a can: Chef creates a Spam dish from scratch that captures the look and texture of Spam, but with a bold taste that is so much more!
This Spam is seared and packed with flavor: slightly smoky with spices and a rich meaty bite to it – served over fried rice with pickled cucumber and a delicious aioli sauce…absolutely incredible – and a gorgeous presentation as well.
Such a delicious dish, and a fitting end to a spectacular night of food!
As usual, we were too full to try dessert – but based on what we had tonight, Lihiliho Yacht Club deserves all of its awards and rave reviews – the food was delicious and inventive, and the staff was amazingly friendly and professional…one of our new San Francisco favorites!
While the Spam was revelatory, those beef tongue buns weren’t far behind – bravo to Chef Kapur and his team for creating such memorable food…and speaking of that:
Remember this dish? It’s from Atelier Crenn, San Francisco’s 3-Michelin star restaurant from Chef Dominique Crenn, the FIRST female Chef in the US to receive that honor!
We ate with her last year, and it’s shocking that she is the first female to be awarded three stars in the US from Michelin – that said, she’s incredibly worthy and you can see our meal with her by clicking on my story here:
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Bravo to Liholiho Yacht Club for giving us a culinary delight!
Leave me a comment and tell me if you will have a bite of my Spam!