Why Lilikoi is No Ka ʻOi

Columns Ono, You Know

September 30, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Last week it was papaya, this week it’s lilikoi! As an island girl, born and raised, I have a soft spot for this tropical fruit. Remember picking lilikoi from Grandma’s backyard? But when you are as crazy about food as I am, a mere slice of lilikoi isn’t gonna cut it, especially when you’re a slave for sweets (and a bit of tartness).

Lilikoi is a tart tropical fruit — a unique type of passion fruit — that grows in climates similar to Hawaii’s, which is why you’ll find a multitude of this fruit in the Pacific Islands, and parts of South and Central America. Rich in vita-min A and C, riboflavin and niacin, lilikoi can be considered an “over-achiever” in the fruit category. Can we say perfection? That’s a big, fat “yes” in my book! Yellow in color, lilikoi always brightens up my day and is a passion fruit that I’m … well … passionate about.

So, without further ado, it’s time to follow my lead as we share our love for lilikoi at the following Ono, You Know establishments!

JJ Bistro & French Pastry

Topping my list of lilikoi goodness is JJ Bistro & French Pastry on Waialae Avenue. Executive chef and owner JJ Luangkhot has been luring in those with a sweet tooth for quite some time with his Euro-Asian fare that is complete decadence. Do the words “Chocolate Pyramid” make your heart melt like sugar? What about these two sweetest words “Chocolate Lilikoi”? Delicious!

“Chocolate Lilikoi is one of our bestsellers,” Lunagkhot says with great pride in his homemade dessert. “In fact, it’s second to the Chocolate Pyramid, and we sell close to 30 to 40 pieces of Chocolate Lilikoi per day.”

A perfect reflection of the Islands, this sinful delight with a bit of Parisian influence is priced at $4.75 per piece or $30 for an 8-inch cake, and features a solid foundation composed of moist chocolate cake topped with a lilikoi mousse made with the freshest of fruit, richest of cream and egg whites. Lastly, Luangkhot adds an essence of flair to it with fresh fruits such as blackberry, strawberry and orange, and a hint of chocolate ganache.

“Interestingly enough, when I first started selling this dessert I had named it Chocolate Passion Fruit, then when I found out that lilikoi was the popular term in Hawaii, I changed the name and then Chocolate Lilikoi began selling like crazy,” Luangkhot recalls. “It’s very refreshing and that’s what people really love about it.”

One bite and you will be in the best of moods for days. Chocolate Lilikoi has got me lovin’ life to the extreme!

JJ Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave.
739.0993

Patisserie La Palme D’or

Enter into a land of simple elegance at Patisserie La Palme D’or in Ala Moana Center. White marble floors, pristine glass countertops and beautifully sweet arrangements greet you as you enter through the doors. Friendly staff are eager to share their recommendations, and from time to time you’ll see head pastry chef Akiko Kimura making sure all the pastries, cakes, drinks and more are exactly as they should be.

On my most recent visit to the patisserie, owner Hiromi Tanaka quickly identified two lilikoi indulgences that will make you say, “Wow!” First is Tropical Fromage ($4.20 each) — a La Palme D’or classic — a masterpiece of layered cheesecake and coconut sponge cake topped with the most tempting lilikoi and mango mousse. A tropical paradise on earth, wouldn’t you agree? Next is a fairly new item, which chef Akiko created earlier this year. Affectionately named Passion Delight ($4.95 each), this one is almost too striking to devour. With such precision, chef Akiko hand-crafts layer upon layer of vanilla sponge cake intertwined with bits of fresh raspberry topped with strawberry and lilikoi cream, and finally savory banana and white chocolate mousse. Passion Delight then seduces your palate even more as a raspberry macaroon and a strawberry morsel sit atop this slice of heaven, encompassing a marriage of French flavor and Japanese craftsmanship.

Patisserie La Palme D’or
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
941.6161

Stage Restaurant

Bravo to Stage Restaurant, a modernly chic dining establishment located on the second floor of Honolulu Design Center. First impressions are always crucial, so Stage awes its guests with its state-of-the-art interior complete with statement lighting, stylish hues, eclectic furnishings and remarkable artwork.

And while Stage’s Asian-American-inspired cuisine receives rave reviews, the desserts are immaculate as well. Pastry chef, Cainan Sabey, brings lilikoi to life with his Lilikoi Creamsicle creation ($10). Available Monday through Friday, during dinner only (5:30 to 9 p.m.), this morsel of love is meant to give a light and refreshing end to your meal.

“The inspiration for this dish was orange-vanilla ice cream popsicles,” Sabey says. “The tartness and acidity of the lilikoi sorbet together with the rich, creamy vanilla ice cream brings a perfect balance of flavor.

“For a unique crunchy texture, I ground up freshly baked vanilla shortbread cookies with a premium organic extra virgin olive oil that has been infused with Kalamata olives. This process is called deconstructing and then reconstructing the cuts, to get the same flavor of short-bread cookies, but creating a whole new texture,” he adds, noting that the lilikoi is processed and shipped from Hilo and the vanilla beans are Tahitian.

What’s more is the sauce! Sure, Lilikoi Creamsicle is simply amazing as is, but add to that a sauce made from fresh strawberries and a pomegranate-flavored balsamic vinegarette, along with fresh fruits and berries … and oh, my days, it’s Christmas in September!

Stage Restaurant
Honolulu Design Center
1250 Kapiolani Blvd.
237.5429