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Unless you’re in Hawaii, Hawaiian cuisine isn’t really common. So, it’s no surprise that the Hawaiian-inspired Liholiho Yacht Club is one of the hottest tickets in town.

Located in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood, the restaurant occupies a beautiful space – an exposed brick wall, high ceilings and funky floor tiles. Very Instagrammable! The front of the restaurant houses a long bar which features large a black and white photo of a young woman (the Chef and Owner’s mom from back in the day – cue the aww’s!) behind the counter.

The interior

Reservations open up at midnight 30 days prior to the date and are highly recommended. We were online exactly 30 days prior but the best we could do was a 9:30pm reservation so the tables go fast. But not to worry, they save a third of their restaurant for walk-ins.

Liholiho Yacht Club offers a fantastic selection of cocktails. They have a separate cocktail bar downstairs called Louie’s Gen-Gen Room which is a must-visit if cocktails are your thing. We dropped in the night before and loved the cozy space which features a completely different cocktail and food menu. Like the restaurant, reservations are recommended if you plan on dropping by.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Hawaiian-born Chef Ravi Kapur who started Liholiho as a pop-up around the city. For this venture, he partnered with Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak from Nopa, one of the essential restaurants of the city.

While Liholiho isn’t a white tablecloth kinda place, the price points are on the high end so a meal here will set you back a pretty penny. But then again, we quickly found out that everything in SF is really expensive.

The extensive menu that Chef Ravi has created is divided into three sections: smaller snacks like popcorn and duck hearts (ranging from $5.75 to $17.25), larger plates (from $14.75 for a salad all the way to $88.88 for a wagyu striploin) and extra large plates which are meant for sharing (from $32.25 for the country pork steak to $42.75 for the grilled short rib).


We started out with the Tuna Poke – sesame oil, radish, nori cracker ($17.25). Poke (marinated raw fish) is quintessential Hawaiian fare which has been gaining a ton of traction. It seems like poke joints (along with sushi burritos) are popping up on every corner these days (or at least in Toronto). I’m still not sick of it yet!

Tuna Poke

I really enjoyed Liholiho’s version which consists of saucy chunks of tuna sitting on top of a large seaweed cracker. You definitely get the punch of sesame oil in the fish and the drizzled spicy aioli on top was a nice finishing touch. I also loved the contrast between the tender chunks of tuna and the crunchy nori cracker. All in all, it was a definite hit and a great way to whet your appetite if you weren’t already licking your lips from reading the menu.

One thing I should note: I can’t remember if the price includes two or three pieces. We may have added a third since there were three of us.

Another huge hit was the Beef Tongue – kimchi, cucumber, poppy seed steam bun ($14). Again, this may only comes with two buns. We may have added a third. This was one of my favourite bites of the trip. The poppy seed studded bun added a nice textural contrast to the fluffy white bun and there was a great filling-to-bun ratio. The tender slices of beef tongue were paired with kimchi, cucumber slices for some freshness, scallions and sesame seeds. The perfect bun!

Beef Tongue

The last dish we ordered from the snack section of the menu was the Duck Liver Toast – jalapeno, pickled pineapple ($11). It consisted of a smooth and silky duck liver mousse spread on a thick piece of brioche. There were sliced jalapenos on it for pops of spiciness and the pickled pineapple added a nice sweetness. It was a good dish but the least memorable one of the evening. It just wasn’t very exciting.

Duck Liver Toast

Up next was the Roasted Octopus – curried raisins, castelvetrano, butterball potatoes, fresh coriander ($18.25). The octopus was impeccably cooked and the fried potatoes were extra crispy, just the way I like ‘em. I love sweet and savoury combinations so the sweet bursts from the raisins paired with the briny olives were right up my alley. This dish doesn’t really shout “Hawaii’ as the ingredients were Mediterranean inspired but nevertheless, it was a damn good dish.

Roasted Octopus

Liholiho offers an off-menu House-made Spam on Rice dish (or ‘deconstructed musubi’ as our server called it). They also offer a fried rice on their menu which has bits of spam in it but this one consists of three thick slabs of straight-up spam on a bed of rice. The rice is topped with scallions, togarashi (Japanese chili powder) and furikake (a Japanese seasoning which contains dried fish, seaweed and sesame seeds). It’s not a fancy dish by any means (it’s like eating hot dogs on rice) but it’s super tasty and incredibly addictive – probably because of the generous amount of furikake used.

House-made Spam on Rice

While we didn’t ball out and go for the nearly $90 wagyu, we did try the Whole Maine Lobster – preserved black bean sauce ($51). By the time this came out, we realized we had ordered way too much food for the three of us. I love black bean sauce and the lobster was cooked nicely but like the duck liver toast, it wasn’t as memorable as some of the other dishes we had this evening.

Whole Maine Lobster

The last savoury dish to arrive was the Cornish Game Hen – cashews, tamari honey glaze, pineapple, broccoli ($37.25). Since Cornish hens can often be dry, I tend to stay away from ordering it but it came highly recommended from our friend who dines here often. Glad we listened since this was definitely some next-level Cornish hen. The pieces of hen were fried to perfection with an extra crispy skin coated in a sweet and sticky glaze. The best part? The meat wasn’t the least bit dry!

Cornish Game Hen

The hen was served with some ridiculously tasty broccoli. They had a nice char to them and the florets acted like sponges as they soaked up all that delicious sweet and spicy glaze. They should really consider selling this as a side vegetable dish. So amazing.

Liholiho has several tempting desserts on their menu but their most popular one is definitely the Baked Hawaii – caramelized pineapple ice cream, vanilla chiffon ($11). Our friend told us that the last few times he was here, they ran out of it so we made sure to reserve one in advance since we had a late dinner reservation.

Baked Hawaii

As you can guess, the Baked Hawaii is their take on the baked Alaska, a dessert made with ice cream, covered in meringue and baked for a short period of time – the meringue acts as insulation preventing the ice cream from melting. I’m not the biggest fan of baked Alaska’s but this was a winner for me. Not only was it beautifully presented but I loved the pineapple ice cream and the short bread crust.

After a gluttonous meal at Liholiho, I totally get the hype. Sure, the food may not be traditional Hawaiian fare but that doesn’t detract from the experience at all. The food was excellent and with an extensive menu with dishes I’d still love to try, I wouldn’t hesitate to come back. For those just looking for some drinks and small bites to eat, their basement bar, Louie’s Gen-Gen is also a must.

At a glance:

  • Serving up Hawaiian-inspired fare from Hawaiian-born Chef Ravi Kapur
  • Reservations are a highly recommended; tables open at midnight 30 days prior to the date; a third of the restaurant is saved for walk-ins
  • Closed Sundays; open Monday through Saturday for dinner from 5pm
  • Also loved their cocktail bar, Louie’s Gen-Gen Room, located in the basement
  • Excellent cocktail list which is different from Louie’s Gen-Gen offerings
  • Not a white tablecloth establishment but price points are on the high side
  • Overall, a great experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to come back
  • Highlights: Beef tongue buns, Cornish game hen

Ratings (out of 5):

  • Food: 4 stars
  • Service: 4 stars
  • Atmosphere: 4.5 stars

Liholiho Yacht Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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