Aloha, San Francisco: Liholiho Yacht Club

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Housemade spam, crafty tropical sips, and warm-hearted coconut butter mochi dessert, Liholiho Yacht Club is spreading the Mahalo spirit from the sometimes beloved Tendernob neighborhood in San Francisco on the daily.

If you’re a Bay dweller and have yet to eat at Liholiho, I am going to stop you right now – you need to make a reservation. They are hard to come by, but very rewarding.

Why Liholiho Yatcht Club? Why the obsession? The place is damn cool and the food is delicious. Chef Ravi Kapur has brought something new to the city, a tropical eatery that is not kitschy (sorry Tonga Room – I still love you), but wildly hip and fresh. The menu is eclectic and unpredictable. You won’t find pulled pork, macaroni, salad or any of that artery clogging typical Hawaiian grub on the Liho Liho menu, but rather a sophisticated spread of fresh fish, escargot paired with bone marrow, manila coconut curry clams, and octopus (etc.).

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What did I eat? Let’s talk and look at some very pretty & small aperture dslr photos.

COCKTAILS

THE SKIPPER // Rhum Barbancourt 8yr, Skipper Rum, Lazzaroni Amaretto, pineapple, lemon

The Skipper is a Mai Tai on crack. Perfect balance of citrus and pineapple, and of course that beautiful rum floater. What makes this Mai Tai infinitely more special is that amaretto – adding a sweet almond flair!

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THE SURFER ROSA // Hibiscus Vida Mezcal, Punt e Mes, Benedictine, lemon, soda

Pictured below right, has a peaty finish and exotic vibe! Definitely gets that punch of Hibiscus color and sweet but smoky flavor from the Mezcal.

TROPICALIA // Avua Cachaça, Giffard Raspberry, lime, tonic

Pictured below left, is a sophisticated strawberry starburst – and it’s delicious. If you have never tried Cachaça, it is truly divine – imagine Rum’s cooler Brazilian cousin…

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APPES

ROASTED OCTOPUS, CURRIED RAISINS, CASTELVETRANO, BUTTERBALL POTATOES, FRESH CORIANDER

A lot of people don’t know how to cook octopus – they make is rubbery. This roasted octopus was tender and al dente. Coupled with the curried raisins and the savory yellow potatoes, this dish is a personal favorite. I love a good tentacle!

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HALIBUT SASHIMI, CUCUMBER, MELON, SWEET PEPPERS, WHITE SOY

Halibut sashimi sounded too special not to try! It’s a very refreshing summer salad with that perfect raw halibut.

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MARINATED SQUID, CRISPY TRIPE, EARLY GIRLS, PEANUTS, FRIED SHALLOTS, MINT

My absolute favorite appetizer on the menu. Tripe? Who thought I would like tripe? Such flavor, such umami! I would like a bag of this crispy tripe for Netflix binge watching sessions. This dish is a show stopper. The tang from the marinated squid, the peanuts, and mint – and the stomach lining – are best friends on this plate. EAT IT.

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MAIN COURSE(S)

[OFF THE MENU] KING SALMON TAIL, FERMENTED BLACK BEANS, CHILI SAUCE GREEN BEANS

Just look at it – LOOK at it! It’s a thing of beauty this crispy and flakey king salmon. Even Ariel would be impressed over this spread. Or is that cannibalism? Liho only reserves around 8 of these a night. Come early, leave happy.

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GRILLED SHORTRIB, ESCARGOT, BONE MARROW, MUSHROOMS, SPRING ONIONS, FRESH HORSERADISH

Sucking the marrow out of life, one snail at a time. What a creative and succulent meal. The breaded escargot is buried in the bone cavity – melting with the marrow, melting and… drooling yet? This short rib plate is a must-try.

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MANILA CLAMS, COCONUT CURRY, SUMMER SQUASH, SNAP PEAS, FRESH TURMERIC, GARLIC NAAN

Pretty little sweet clams and bomb.com house-made garlic naan is truly a homerun for the senses. I would reorder this one for sure.

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SWEETS

BAKED HAWAII // Caramelized pineapple ice cream, vanilla chiffon

Bon Appétit told me to try it and the inviting little beehive mounds being paraded around on pastry dishes throughout the restaurant halls are hard to resist. WOW. Just wow. No, not overrated. Yes, very special. The Baked Hawaii has varying textures, pineapple ice cream, and a vanilla chiffon that kicks marshmallow cream’s ass. Aloooo-haaa, Baked Hawaii! I like you.

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COCONUT BUTTER MOCHI

This humble dessert holds its own against its internet-famous baked Hawaiian cousin. This magnificent and comforting dessert would make any Monday, Tax Day, [single] Valentine’s day infinitely better. It has a warm heart – it does! You like coconut and happiness? Order 5 of these.

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It’s safe to say, I love Liholiho Yacht Club! Staff is friendly (if you have a 5pm reservation, they line up and welcome you in – I felt like Hillary Clinton), knowledgeable, and incredibly hard-working. I love the open kitchen design, it lets us patrons inside the mind and heart of a rockstar chef. Chef Ravi, snaps!

Mahalo!

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