Fusion, Flair and Flavor All Around
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If you’re looking to be more adventurous this year in your choice of restaurants and cuisine, there’s no better choice than JJ Bistro & French Pastry, located in Kaimuki on Waialae Avenue. The restaurant, which first opened in Aiea in 1995 and moved to its current location in 1999, is known for its unique assortment of entrees and pastries, according to owner and chef JJ Luangkhot.
“Our food is a fusion of Laotian and French cuisine,” Luangkhot says. “Our restaurant is a unique and elegant pastry shop. We are the only one (restaurant) that has this (original) menu.”
Luangkhot recalls that, prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the eatery sold more pastries. However, after 9-11, he decided to start serving more entrees at the restaurant. Since then, the menu has continued to evolve, as Luangkhot added dishes that were initially unfamiliar to locals but have since grown to be customer favorites.
“Our food is very different from most of the restaurants in Hawaii,” he says. “We created our own dishes, some of which locals have never seen before. We are using French technique with Laotian flair.”
The signature at JJ Bistro & French Pastry is Fisherman Pot Pie ($12.95), an assortment of scallops, salmon, shrimp, bamboo, eggplant, red bell pepper and zucchini with green curry sauce, and served on a puff pastry shell. Other customer favorites include Asian Classic ($9.95) — a mix of scallops, salmon, shrimp and rice pasta with shiitake mushrooms and roasted garlic sauce — and Seafood Brioche ($9.95), an assortment of salmon, scallops, shrimp, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, red bell peppers and the chef’s special black pepper cream sauce.
“Asian Classic is a very popular (choice),” states Luangkhot. “It’s like a seafood (mixture) with roasted garlic sauce with the rice pasta.”
Baked Salmon ($9.95), served with French bread, and Cheese Ravioli with Lobster ($12.95) — one of the newest additions to the restaurant’s menu — also are frequently-ordered entrees. But the unique menu doesn’t just stop with entrees. For dessert, customers can find a plethora of elegant and delicious choices. The eatery is known for its Chocolate Pyramid ($5.25), a structure of dark chocolate mousse comprising a combination of three different types of chocolate. Other popular desserts include those with fruity flavors.
“The Chocolate Pyramid is our signature dessert,” Luangkhot says, “but since we are in Hawaii, we created new dishes with Hawaiian flair.
“We came up with Chocolate Fruit Basket ($4.75), and Chocolate Lilikoi ($4.75) is one of our best-sellers.”
Last year, because of limited seating at his restaurant, Luangkhot decided to open another bistro right down the street. He explains that the sister restaurant, Le Cacao Bistro, is based on the same concept as JJ Bistro but features a completely different menu.
“There are different entrees (at Le Cacao Bistro),” he says. “Le Cacao is more of a New York-style bistro.”
Le Cacao Bistro also differs from JJ Bistro in that it offers a menu for “De Afternoon Tea” ($14.95 person, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily), including delicacies such as a Trio of French Macaroons and mini croissant sandwiches. From Jan. 15, Le Cacao Bistro also will introduce a brunch option.
“‘De Afternoon Tea’ has its own menu, and brunch will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day,” adds Luangkhot.
As far as goals for 2012, Luangkhot is trying to focus more on Le Cacao Bistro and introduce new items to its ever-expanding menu.
“We want to create a new menu for our sister restaurant to make it more affordable and make it a more simple, bistro style,” he says.
JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry
- 3447 Waialae Avenue
- Honolulu, HI 96816
- (808) 739-0993
- 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Monday – Saturday
- 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.