Fans of chef Ravi Kapur and his genre-defying Liholiho Yacht Club, where the chef spins together his Hawaiian roots and California cooking pedigree, have a splashy new restaurant to delve into. As of Friday, January 14, Good Good Culture Club is now open for dinner, serving an electric menu inspired by cuisines from across the Asian diaspora. The restaurant moved into the 18th Street space that formerly housed Dear Inga and most recently hosted Liholiho through most of 2021. Now it’s been invigorated with vibrant murals, a touch of neon, and dangling greenery.
But beyond being the latest project from one of San Francisco’s favorite chefs, Good Good Culture Club represents a grand departure from the status quo of restaurant management, both Kapur and partner Jeff Hanak say. The ownership duo say they and their leadership team spent most of last year identifying a series of core values for the company, ideas they’ll now put into action as Good Good Culture Club debuts. “I would never say that this is an experiment because it’s much more intentional than that,” Kapur says. “But it’s kind of a departure from this top-down, centralized management [where] chef is the one chef at the apex. It’s much more collaborative.”
The changes go beyond the restaurant’s commitment to equitable pay, which necessitated the abolition of tips in favor of what the restaurant’s calling an “equity fee.” The team also designed a more thoughtful approach for hiring — they’re not accepting resumes, candidates fill out a form that’s reviewed by committee — and prioritized the staff’s overall well-being when deciding on the hours of business — which is why the restaurant is open for a modern four hours five nights a week.
In terms of the food, Kapur is adamant about not putting Good Good Culture Club in a box. “Liholiho was never meant to be a modern Hawaiian restaurant and this is not a modern Asian restaurant,” he says. Though the menu references a number of Asian cuisines — featuring dishes like curry, lao sausage, and pandan bibingka — Kapur describes the menu as a collaborative effort between himself and Good Good Culture co-chefs and Kevin Keovanpheng and Brett Shaw. The result is a kaleidoscope of ingredients, influences, and textures. “I definitely have input on this menu but it’s very collaborative and highlights the voices of our two chefs,” Kapur says. “They’re exploring what it is to express what it is to be heritage-driven cuisine.”
It’s meant to offer a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure dining experience, with diners mixing and matching savory dishes to be enjoyed family-style. There are Good Good chicken wings shining with adobo glaze, sheer slices of beef carpaccio crowned with crispy pig ears, and a neat pile of grilled oyster mushrooms showered in chrysanthemum-soy fermented garlic dressing. Larger plates include the familiar whole fried sole with turmeric-coconut brine, smoked beef ribs in a pho glaze, and red curry available with either catfish or sweet potato. There’s also the option for the Ohana Menu, a sort of prix-fixe option where for $60 a person the table shares a spread of plates.
The double-decker space more than keeps up with the restaurant’s ambitious ethos and diverse menu. Always airy and bright, the main dining room now sports an eye-catching mural from Oakland-based artist Kalani Ware and a cheeky neon sign begging the question of aunts and grandmother’s everywhere: “Did you eat yet?” “Really the idea was to try to take a space that was definitely built, very highly designed for a fine dining restaurant and try to knock it down a notch and make it a little bit more comfortable,” Hanak says. Meanwhile, the enormous and plant-filled rooftop deck that made Liholiho one of the toughest reservations to land during the pandemic continues to tempt with turquoise booths, fanning palms, and climbing vines.
But first and foremost, Kapur says he wants to focus to be not only on the food and design but on the team that’s making Good Good Culture Club go. “It’s really the team at this one,” Kapur says. “Yes, we are the ownership but on the day-to-day, it’s like, it’s not just the Jeff and Ravi show.”
Good Good Culture Club is open at 3560 18th Street, Tuesday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m.