For the past couple of months, former Prospect and Boulevard chef Ravi Kapur has been offering up a preview of things to come with his pop-up LihoLiho Yacht Club at Citizen's Band (8th and Folsom). Today Kapur announces that he's extending the pop-up once more, and that its popularity has encouraged him to start thinking of it as a weekly residency more than a pop-up. Also, he tells Grub Street that he's actively on the hunt for a space in the Mission* which is also the neighborhood where he lives for his first solo venture.
"I'd like to continue cooking for my neighborhood, as opposed to someone else's neighborhood," Kapur tells us, adding that the pop-up has been an incredibly positive experience that has helped him hone some ideas about how he'd like to continue cooking, and what he sees going forward in the way of a menu at the eventual restaurant.
"There's certain things I value when i cook texture, temperature, balance, nothing over-simplified, making sure you get a complete experience and that there's still some creativity in the food." He says the concept for the new place is still evolving, but it won't be called LihoLiho Yacht Club and it won't have quite the same Hawaii-specific jumping-off point. He's envisioning a casual spot, of 60 to 80 seats, where his friends can come eat without it being a special occasion. And the menu will be a hybrid of LihoLiho and some of his previous California food, with an emphasis on accessibility.
"I think I just want to be able to let my influences and my upbringing play out more, and it's never been able to," he says. "It's always been filtered and tailored to a fine-dining context, and in a smaller context is been great to not to have to conform. The food [at the pop-up] is strongly Asian-influenced and those are the flavors I'm most comfortable with." Furthermore he says that the spirit of Hawaii, with its mashup of different cultures and cuisines, will definitely serve as inspiration. "It's this idea of a plantation or immigrant cuisine. The Filipinos eating lunch with the Chinese and the Japanese in the sugar cane fields that's where it all begins."
With that in mind, he's switching up the menu slightly for this next three-week round of LihoLiho, which will run on Mondays, May 14, 21, and 28. Today he says he's experimenting with a new dish, which is Korean but only ever found in Hawaii: meat jun, which is marinated beef fried in an egg batter. That is likely to be on the new menu, with some of the same dishes from before. The deal is the same, $65 per person, tax and tip included, with beverages extra.
Follow LihoLiho Yacht Club on Facebook for further updates, and make reservations via the Citizen's Band website. (Kapur also says that you should keep checking back for openings if you don't see a time you want, because there are cancellations right down to the day of.)
* This post has been corrected to show that Kapur lives in the Mission, and that he's looking for space there, not in SoMa, as incorrectly stated earlier.