If you haven’t already, say hello to Good Good Culture Club, now open in the Mission. The lively and energetic restaurant comes from the forward-thinking team that brought you the acclaimed Liholiho Yacht Club, where chef Ravi Kapur’s heritage-driven cooking took San Francisco (and the nation) by storm, garnering critical praise and acclaim from seemingly everywhere.
Chefs Kevin Keovanpheng and Brett Shaw, who worked alongside Kapur at Liholiho Yacht Club, are bringing that same ethos and style of cooking to the Mission with this new restaurant. “When we’re talking about heritage-driven cooking, we’re often looking for the intersection of cultures,” says Keovanpheng, whose family hails from Laos. As such, you’ll find a blend of flavor profiles from different regions, countries, and cultures often combined into dishes, from things like Filipino-inspired adobo glazes on chicken wings to Vietnamese pho flavors on smoked beef ribs. “Everything we create is this open dialogue where people are batting around ideas,” echoes Shaw.
Below is a look at just some of the must-order dishes on the menu at Good Good Culture Club.
1. Good Good Chicken Wing
Sure, a chicken wing could be considered a crowdpleaser, but this isn’t your average wingie. Each wing is meticulously deboned, and cooks must be careful not to pierce the skin. The wings are then stuffed with garlic sticky rice, dipped in a corn starch/rice flour batter for that extra craggily and crispy coating, then glazed in an adobo-inspired mix of vinegar, chicken jus, and black pepper.
“This was, for me, a dish I never thought we’d be able to pull off because it’s so labor intensive,” says Shaw. It turns out they are doing upwards of a 100 of these bad boys per day.
2. Hodo Yuba
The star of this dish, of course, is the thin sheets of tofu skin sourced from Hodo in Oakland. They’re cut into “noodles,” dressed in a fermented black bean-miso-sesame based dressing, along with crunchy julienned cucumbers and radishes, fried shallots, and topped with a sesame salsa macha of sorts. It’s spicy, it’s cool, it’s creamy, it’s crunchy, it’s umami. It’s delicious.
3. Beef Carpaccio
This dish is actually two dishes in one and is inspired by both a Laotian yum salad (yum means to mix) as well as the raw beef dish, laap. At first, it started off as just a crispy pig ear salad, which featured pig ear two ways — both poached and fried crispy — along with fresh sweet shinko pear and spicy red mustard frill.
“I remember Jeff [Hanak] and Ravi keep saying that we need a raw beef dish,” muses Keovanpheng. “So we combined the two, and it worked.” The beef is thinly sliced eye of the round from Five Dot Ranch. There’s also toasted rice powder, galangal, and lemongrass in the mix, too — make fun little rolls with it all and enjoy together.
4. Mom’s Lao Sausage
“This dish is near and dear to my heart. It’s something I’ve had growing up,” says Keovanpheng. “It’s my mom’s recipe.”
The sausage is made in-house, of course, with ground pork and back fat, lemongrass, galangal, and makrut lime leaves. It is plump and fat, juicy but with a snap, and has that subtle but bright citrus aroma. It’s served with a spicy, sweet pasilla pepper relish, or jaew, along with some pickled bitter broccolini to pair. The entire set is so simple and so satisfying, but you can taste all of the care that goes in there.
5. Halo Ha-Lao
You’ll want to end on a sweet note with the Halo Ha-Lao, which merges the Filipino dessert halo halo with the Laotian dessert nam wan. “Mad credit to our pastry chef extraordinaire, Kristina Garbett,” says Shaw.
Here, you’ll find a mound of housemade ube ice cream covered in a “coconut cloud,” which is almost like a creamier whipped cream. Studded everywhere are tapioca pearls, seasonally changing fruit (right now, it’s shinko pear and blood orange), crispy toasted rice, and ube powder. There’s also a shiso granita, too. You could mix it all together, or take precise bites and mix and match as you’d like — there’s no wrong way to eat it and it’s guaranteed to be delicious.
Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco writer & cookie dough professional. Find him at @ommmar