We went to Liholiho yacht club in SF recently for my husbands birthday. We are pretty picky and more often than not disappointed with high end restaurants in SF. But we were completely blown away by the food at Liholiho. Super-creative bold and delicious.
Perhaps the only bad thing about the meal was our waiter. My husband described him as typical of the San Francisco waiters at high end restaurants- trying to provide formal and inflexible service in a place that is supposed to be upscale-casual and flexible. He was inattentive and we had to ask another server for water. We are not really main-course people. The idea of a big slab of protein is not appealing to either of us. We enjoy sharing small plates more. And the small plates on the menu seemed more interesting than the main courses. But our waiter heavy handedly and repeatedly tried to steer us to ordering main courses -“people usually order a main course blah blah blah”- the look on his face seemed to imply that we were cheapskates trying to economize and he would end up with a small tip. I was ready to ask for a different waiter but he relented. A minor blemish on an otherwise excellent experience.
Here is what we ate:
beef tongue, kimchi, cucumber, poppy seed steam bun- a play on Often when an ethniclp dish like bao is tinkered with at a high end restaurant it ends up being a tame unsatisfying version of the original. But this take on bao elevated the dish and retained while resting the rustic bold punch of good bao. It was outrageously well executed: Meltingly tender beef tongue, tart spicy kimchi, perfect poppy seed bun.
roasted octopus, curried raisins, castelvetrano, butterball potatoes, fresh coriander- WOW! Let me leave it at that.
pork jowl, black sesame, miso honey mustard- again WOW.
fried rice, bay shrimp, house–made spam, abalone mushrooms- a very satisfying take on fried rice. Excellent!
Dark chocolate cream puff-very tasty and satisfying. Not overly sweet with a great chocolate and berry balance against a well executed choux pastry.
Coconut butter mochi- my husband said it was his favorite dessert in a long time. To me it had some of the satisfying flavors and textures of good galatoboureko (Greek milk custard phillo pie) combined with a subtle not overbearing coconut flavor and a delicate mochi outer layer.