Formerly a pop-up from Chef Ravi Kapur, the eatery serves thrilling, modern food with a global, value-conscious list (separated into classic “Old Friends” and emerging, unusual “New Friends”) overseen by star sommelier Lulu McAllister.
Q&A with Executive Chef Ravi Kapur and Wine Director Lulu McAllister
By Virginie Boone
I’ve seen Liholiho Yacht Club described as Hawaiian, Indian and Chinese. How do you see it?
Ravi Kapur: Being from Hawaii — and being Hawaiian as well — plays a strong role in the food, but in no way would I ever call it a Hawaiian restaurant. We’re still trying to find the answer to the question of what is Hawaiian cuisine.
We knew we wanted delicious food that you couldn’t get just anywhere and service that was casual but professional and tailored to the guest. We wanted it to be fun, great music, good lighting, all these things that go into having a really great time when you go out to eat.
What was your thinking behind separating the wine list into “Old Friends” and “New Friends”?
Lulu McAllister: Some people are curious and don’t know a lot about wine, some people do know a lot about wine but are still curious, so I try to be sensitive to both of those progressions. Our “Old Friends” wines are more traditional in style and have more typicity; “wines of comfort” is another way I describe it. Then I try to give more unusual options, things we source specifically for the restaurant, as our “New Friends.”
RK: There’s a playful element to it; it’s not this canon. There’s great value, which I think is important, on both the wine and food side. If we err in making a dish, we err on it being too big as opposed to being too small, and that probably has something to do with being from Hawaii, this generosity.
LM: I taste so much wine, I’m constantly juggling the space I have and trying to make room for the great things I’m finding. It’s like the best kind of Tetris.
RK: The goal is to be delicious, and having all access points is important to us. You can come in and have a steamed bun and a beer and you’re out the door under $20. Or you can throw down, get some dope wines, and do a full multi-course meal, but we don’t treat you any different.
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