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For JJ Luangkhot, his culinary practices are a work of award-winning art as he fuses Asian flavors with the aesthetic appeal of European presentation. Diners will find all this and more at J2 Asian Fusion, an upscale restaurant Luangkhot recently opened along Waialae Avenue.
Born and raised in Laos, Luangkhot creates dishes from the heart. He confesses to feeling blessed by his culinary experiments, pointing to the vast melting pot of flavors and ingredients that Hawaii has to offer.
Dining Out recently paid a visit to J2 Asian Fusion and Luangkhot was more than happy to give us a glimpse of his edible masterpieces.
DO: J2 Asian Fusion opened its doors earlier this year. How has business been since January and what is the concept behind the restaurant?
Luangkhot: Basically this restaurant is to expand our dining area and expand our menu from JJ Bistro & French Pastry (located on the same block) to J2 Asian Fusion, seeing that JJ’s is always overbooked. Right now we’re trying to align both restaurants along the same concept so diners can choose whether they’d like to dine at the quieter location (J2 Asian Fusion) or the busier location (JJ’s).
DO: What type of cuisine can people expect here at J2 Asian Fusion?
Luangkhot: People can expect a good mix of Eurasian food — Southeast Asian food with a French flair. Currently at J2, we’re working on a three- and four-course meal combo that a lot of customers seem to really enjoy. The three-course meal is priced at $17.50 per person and includes a light salad or soup, an entree of choice and a dessert. As for the four-course meal, diners receive their selected soup of the day, a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. This complete meal is priced at $24.70 per person.
DO: That sounds like an excellent deal! What specific dishes would you recommend patrons order?
Luangkhot: For starters, the South Beach Blue Crab Rangoon ($7.95) is a great appetizer, featuring a sweet corn, red onion and cream cheese plum sauce. As for entrees, I highly recommend the Poached Opaka Confit ($12.95), served with rice. This exquisite dish is topped with ginger and green onion with a light shoyu sauce over fresh choi sum. East Meets West showcases a baked brioche stuffed with honey-glazed char siu topped with Asian-style pickles and a hoisin chili sauce. On the other hand, South East Meets West ($12.95) consists of a baked brioche served with lobster, zucchini, bamboo shoots and red bell pepper with a green curry sauce. Finally, the Grilled Pork Chop ($9.95) is an excellent option as well. Customers can select from various sauce choices like leek and shiitake black bean sauce, mushroom cream sauce or a chili lemongrass sauce.
Our desserts are spectacular and there’s a wide array to choose from, like the Cream of Matcha with a green tea mousse served in a martini glass. The Le Cafe also is a winner, this sinful dessert features ladyfinger cookies soaked in espresso topped with a mocha mousse. Many of our dessert options are gluten-free.
DO: Is it true that you’re in the process of changing up your menu a bit?
Luangkhot: Yes. Starting today we also will be serving personal pan upscale pizzas (starting at $7.95) at J2 Asian Fusion. I tried to come up with another type of gourmet pizza that is topped with anchovies and jalapenos. We have another pizza, which I expect to be extremely popular, that’s served with honey glazed char siu — it’s more like an Asian-fusion type of pizza. I think the J2 Special Pizza will be a top-seller as well, featuring seafood (scallops, salmon and shrimp) with a red curry sauce. We’ve been serving pizzas at JJ’s for about eight years, and we’re known for our thin-crust pizzas that are topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and a tomato sauce base. All pizzas will be available for lunch and dinner. We also hope to add pasta to the menu in the very near future. Our pasta sauces are on the very light side and we’re known for our rosemary sauce, green curry sauce and garlic sauce.
DO: It’s obvious that you’re keeping with the Eurasian theme of the restaurant. Why do you think it is that European and Asian cuisines pair so well together?
Luangkhot: For me, I believe that Asian food is very tasty and European cuisine puts a lot of emphasis on presentation. In essence, I think I’m taking the best of both worlds and combining them into the perfect cuisine, resulting in Asian-fusion. I do come up with these creations myself, although I have the help of three very skilled assistants in the kitchen.
DO: You’ve made your mark in the culinary world, having started cooking with your mom in Laos, before gaining culinary skills in New York and Hawaii. As the years go on, how do you stay inspired?
Luangkhot: I just think that anything can be happen at J2 if we believe in our creations. I believe every single thing that we come up with will work very well. I love creating something new and different for our customers.
J2 Asian Fusion
- 3441 Waialae Avenue
- Honolulu, HI 96816
- (808) 626-5368
- 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily