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Cover Story

A Sea of New Flavors Washes Ashore

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
January 13, 2013

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Intertwining flavors of Laotian and French cuisine … that’s what chef and owner JJ Luangkhot of JJ Bistro & French Pastry does every day, always striving to achieve absolute perfection.

Luangkhot made Hawaii his home almost two decades ago and first opened JJ Bistro & French Pastry in Aiea in 1995, prior to relocating his restaurant in 1999 to its current home in Kaimuki. Highly regarded for its unique assortment of entrees and pastries, this pastry shop exudes an elegance all its own.

Luangkhot never ceases to amaze his patrons with brand new delights and insightful restaurant concepts, so it’s no wonder that on our most recent visit to JJ Bistro & French Pastry, Luangkhot amazed us with his newly created Fishermen Feast additional menu that will be available to customers starting today.

“This is a play off of my other restaurant, Crab City. Now we have a menu here that’s dedicated to seafood on a more upscale level,” Luangkhot says. “Lobster is our specialty.”

This enticing menu is offered during lunch and dinner, and as we sat down with Luangkhot to reel in this catch, he shared with us a “tail” that we won’t soon forget.

DO: The new year is off to an impressive start here at JJ Bistro & French Pastry. Tell us about this new Fishermen Feast menu that you’re debuting today.

Luangkhot: We wanted to start the new year with something different at JJ Bistro & French Pastry. We figured that since we’re doing well at Crab City next door, we decided to bring about a seafood concept/menu here as well. However, instead of focusing on crab, we wanted the main draw to be lobster. The presentation of the dishes also is more elegant compared to Crab City. I have had many customers who don’t want to make a mess when they eat seafood.

DO: The restaurant’s Fishermen Feast menu offers a healthier aspect as well, correct?

Luangkhot: Yes, we’re staying away from deep-fried dishes, therefore our seafood dishes all will be fresh and baked.

DO: Please give us a glimpse of the menu. What would you highly recommend to customers?

Luangkhot: If you love oysters, you must try our Bake Oyster ($2.95 per piece, $14.95 for half-dozen), a side dish, which features oysters complemented with an avocado puree and chili mayonnaise. Melted mozzarella cheese also sits atop each oyster. Bake Oyster is a good choice for those who don’t like raw seafood.

Another must-try side dish is Oyster Classic ($2.50 per piece, $12.95 for half-dozen, $24 for one dozen). These oysters are very fresh and topped with masago and a hint of ponzu sauce. The ponzu sauce brings a citrus taste to the dish and pairs well with the natural sweetness of the oyster.

We have two types of oysters to choose from, New Zealand oysters, which are small, juicy and sweet, or Pacific oysters, which are larger and come from Seattle.

DO: Lobster fanatics obviously can’t wait to devour the delicious lobster tail ($14.95 per tail). Tell us about this.

Luangkhot: Yes, our lobster tails are fantastic. Lobster is one of the most popular seafood choices, and we have a great deal: You can purchase three tails for only $34.95. We also have a new special that we’re excited to promote, and that’s Lobster Pad Thai ($18.95). Pad Thai is a well-known international dish, but we want to make ours stand out by adding lobster to it — Tristan lobster to be exact. Tristan lobster is considered to be the world’s sweetest lobster and that adorns the pad thai (rice noodles), which is flavored with a XO sauce base (shrimp paste) and citrus, and served with bean sprouts on the side.

We offered Lobster Pad Thai to our customers on New Year’s Eve, and many people seemed to really enjoy it, so we decided to add it to our menu. It has really taken off in the last two weeks.

DO: Other highlights off the menu include Shrimp of De Day ($11.95 per pound), Let it Snow Crab (market price), Clam of De Sea ($12.95 per pound) and more. Like Crab City, are there any combo deals that patrons can take advantage of?

Luangkhot: We have one seafood combo titled De Sea World. It’s priced at $48 and feeds two to three people. Served in a big bowl (resembling a coffee cup), it includes king, snow and Dungeness crabs, in addition to lobster, mussel, clam and shrimp.

DO: The variety of sauces to pair with your seafood is a main draw at Crab City. Can customers expect the same type of sauces here at JJ Bistro & French Pastry?

Luangkhot: Yes, but unlike Crab City, where the seafood is swimming in the sauce in a plastic bag, here all sauces are served on the side for dipping, and the seafood is presented on a plate. We have four sauces to choose from: World Classic (melted butter), Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper and J’Jun Sauce (Cajun sauce made with chili, garlic and basil). J’Jun sauce is very interesting and it’s my personal favorite.

DO: Providing the freshest cuisine to your customers is a top priority for you. Yes?

Luangkhot: Of course! Fresh seafood is shipped in three times a week, mainly from Seattle, and we also obtain our lobster from Maine.

JJ’s Bistro & French Pastry

3447 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
739.0993
Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m-9 p.m.
Sundays, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
jjfrenchpastry.com