Double the Pleasure
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JJLuangkhot, the award-winning executive chef and owner of JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry, has been serving Hawaii an array of exquisite European desserts and pastries for decades.
Today, Luangkhot reaches yet another milestone in his culinary career with the opening of J2 Asian Fusion, located just down the road from his bistro. The soft opening of this southeast Asian eatery is set for today with the grand opening scheduled for Jan. 11 at 11 a.m.
Luangkhot, the head chef at J2 Asian Fusion, says the new restaurant will showcase the culinary styles of Southeast Asia, with influences drawn from countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and a bit of China as well. J2 Asian Fusion features soups, salads, entrees, Hot Pot du jour and more, including all of JJ’s scrumptious desserts and pastries.
Luangkhot is now accepting reservations and is offering a free occasion cake to the first 11 parties (five or more individuals) booked. And if you choose to dine in Jan. 11, Luangkhot will deduct 11 percent off your total bill. (Both offers are not to be combined with any other offer.) For more information, call 626-5368.
Dining Out recently caught up with Luangkhot to get the inside scoop on his dynamite new restaurant, as well as discuss his culinary background.
Alana Folen: JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry has already achieved so much success over the years. Can J2 Asian Fusion get any better than that? And in what ways does J2 differ from JJ’s?
JJ: J2 Asian Fusion focuses more on Asian-style cuisine, while JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry focuses more on French and Laotian culinary practices. However, J2 will
continue to put great emphasis on the French style of presentation. Presentation is very important — there has to be that “wow” factor.
AF: Being that you’re originally from Laos, did you bring some of your cultural influences to J2?
JJ: Yes, the first influential thing that I bring to J2 is the flavor and the taste of the food, and the presentation of the French culture.
AF: French-style presentation is so important to you when it comes to your culinary creations. Why is that?
JJ: Laos used to be a part of the French colonies, so we are greatly influenced by French stylings — and, for the French, the culinary presentation is more like artwork. So because of this I decided to upgrade the presentation of Southeast Asian food. I believe great presentation makes any meal more enjoyable. And the prices here are very affordable.
AF: What are some of the specialties at J2 Asian Fusion?
JJ: We have East Meets West, which can be served as an appetizer or a la carte. For $12.95, it features baked brioche stuffed with honey-glazed char siu topped with Asian-styled pickles and a hoisin chili sauce.
Then we have another appetizer called Two Seasons Shrimp, which are soft and crispy tempura rolls with vermicelli and mixed greens served with a peanut sauce, and that’s $7.95.
The Baked Salmon for $12.95 is also really good with sweet peas and pineapples with a red curry sauce. It’s served over rice (brown or white) or French bread. We’re also going to offer a lot more appetizers and soups that customers will be able to select from, as well as noodle and rice dishes, lots of curry and even Hot Pot. We’ll have hot pot du jour for the vegetarian lover, meat lover and seafood lover. Prices range from $15.50 to $24.95.
AF: For those who are not too familiar with Southeast Asian cuisine, what would you recommend as a first dish?
JJ: First, I have to see if they like spicy food or not, and from there I can highly recommend a dish for them to try. If they can’t handle the heat at all, the spring rolls are always good or pork chops. We just want to welcome everyone to try something new.
AF: Southeast Asian cuisine is famous for its fiery, hot flavor, correct?
JJ: Yes, you can always specify the level of spiciness preferred, whether it’s mild, medium or hot. We make everything to order using fresh ingredients, and Southeast Asian food is generally really healthy.
AF: What can diners expect in terms of ambiance at J2?
JJ: It’s very relaxing, with an Asian flair — a very Southeast Asian atmosphere.
AF: Very nice! Tell me, how did the idea for J2 Asian Fusion come about?
JJ: Well, seeing that I travel overseas a lot and that I love to eat, I often go to restaurants when I travel but can’t finish the entire meal because the portions are so big. So I wanted to give people the opportunity to try different Southeast Asian dishes in smaller portions. That way, the customer can get a great taste of the cuisine.
AF: Sounds like you’re on to something. What are your hopes for J2?
JJ: That everyone will enjoy it and appreciate what we have here. Southeast Asian cuisine has so much to offer and is so tasty.
AF: In terms of your culinary background, how did you get started?
JJ: I started cooking with my mom in Laos and then found myself in New York City working at a French restaurant in 1987. I worked under a pastry chef named Jean Marc Burillier; he was my mentor and was considered one of the best chefs in New York City at the time. I came to Hawaii on a whim; I never planned on coming here, but when I did, I found that there were many opportunities here.
AF: Is that when JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry entered the scene?
JJ: Yes. I was looking for the best place for dessert that was similar to what I was used to in New York, but I couldn’t find anything. So, to make a long story short, that’s when I opened JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry.
AF: You’ve been in the culinary industry for a while now. What is your secret to success?
JJ: The secret for me is serving only the best that I can. All the dishes that I serve, I love and I create from the heart.
JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry
J2 Asian Fusion
- 3447 Waialae Avenue (JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry)
- 3441 Waialae Avenue (J2 Asian Fusion)
- (808) 739-0993 (JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry)
- (808) 626-5368 (J2 Asian Fusion)