The shaved pig head salad from Liholiho Yacht Club will overwhelm you with awe. You know, the kind inspired by a top-down, golden hour drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. Frisée and Asian pears, tossed in a zingy fish sauce vinaigrette, surround glossy slices of pig head like an edible halo. And the meat melts the second it hits your tongue. The salad is a spot-on indicator of what this Lower Nob Hill spot does best: completely original dishes that are in their own class.
A lot has changed in Liholiho Yacht Club’s world since their two-year hiatus starting in 2020. The restaurant underwent an interior refresh. And the team opened Good Good Culture Club, the lively sister spot in the Mission and one of the most fun places to eat in the city. What hasn’t changed is that Liholiho is a bucket-list restaurant for milestone life moments you’ll be telling stories about for the next ten years.
The menu is described as “heritage driven,” and here that translates to salads, snacks, and meats and seafood influenced mostly by South and East Asian cuisines. Liholiho is doing its own thing, combining every flavor under the sun to turn out dishes that feel new. And the impressive presentation makes them almost too pretty to eat.
Just look to the rendang curry that arrives with an entire turmeric butter naan baked over the top. It’s one of six rotating entrées, and one to get on your table. Stab the bread’s shell to release the fragrant steam like it’s a pore-opening facial. The swordfish katsu is the other standout. It’s decorated with a Russian dressing drizzle, radishes, and gherkins, and stays crisp atop light caper butter. Smaller plates are as deserving of the spotlight. Beef tongue and miso aioli between soft steamed buns are saucy and umami-packed, gulf shrimp are leveled up with sweet longanisa stuffing, and the previously mentioned pig head salad is, quite simply, a masterpiece.
While the food is the main event, the space is where you want to be on nights that call for multiple rounds of wine, and pandan or li hing mui-infused cocktails. The open kitchen, smack dab in the middle of the airy, brick-lined dining room, is a hub of constant movement. Staff add the finishing touches on some katsu, light sparklers on top of a baked Hawaii, and move around so fast they blur. Get to this buzzy place for any celebration you can think of, including to experience a dinner that's unlike anything else in SF.
Shaved Pig Head
Raise a glass to this phenomenal salad, which will make all other salads you eat after seem sad. You’ll also want this fish sauce dressing on everything.
Turmeric butter naan is baked directly on top of the bowl, and you’re instructed to either lift it right off or break the middle with a spoon and let a few pieces of bread soak up the nutty curry. Do the latter. The curry has deep flavor and a mild kick, and the lamb falls apart even if you just poke it with a fork. We only wish the curry came with more meat, and a side of rice because the naan will run out.
The sound of someone cutting into the crust on this katsu would probably rack up thousands of views on ASMR YouTube. Bright pickled onions and caper butter make this one of the lighter entrées on the menu.
This ribeye is perfectly charred, and topped with slightly sweet carrots that'll rewire the part of your brain that stores the carrot facts. The black sesame and nose-clearing hot mustard dipping sauce that comes on the side cuts through the meat’s richness nicely.
An excellent rendition of tuna poke. Will it change your life? Not necessarily. But if you’re down to spend $11 on a few bites of fish, Liholiho is a great place to do so.
Poppyseed Steam Bun
Like the poke, this poppyseed steam bun is a trademark Liholiho dish that regulars will recognize from the early days. Dripping out of the pillowy bun are juices from the beef tongue, kimchi, and miso aioli. It’s one per order, so plan accordingly.
Save room for this. Torched meringue is swirled around a mound of coconut POG sorbet and fluffy orange chiffon cake. It’s tart, sweet, and exactly what you should eat on every future birthday.