Doubling up on delicious fare
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From the comfort-inducing plate lunches we pack up for the beach, to gourmet Pacific Rim meals we treat ourselves to on special occasions, it’s safe to say that fusion-filled fare is all around us here in the Islands. Even so, I’d be willing to bet you’ve never had a mouthwatering mélange quite like the ones found at JJ Bistro & French Pastry. A hallmark harmony of Laotian and French cuisine, accented with other global flavors, ensures this Kaimuki eatery’s sweets and savories bring double the satisfaction to all fusion foragers.
The man behind this unique brand of fare is owner and executive pastry chef JJ Luangkhot, whose colorful culinary background lends to a menu smothered in diversity. Born and raised in Laos, the chef moved to New York as a young adult, to learn the ins and outs of fine dining. Twelve years later, he moved to Hawaii, where he has been residing for two decades now. Throughout his journey from Laos to Honolulu, he’s picked up tasty tricks every step of the way, which he incorporates into his restaurant’s offerings.
JJ Bistro & French Pastry is perhaps best known by those with a sweet tooth, who constantly crave its elegant cakes, pastries and pies. Since developing a love for baking, under the direction of renowned chef and mentor Jean-Marc Burillier in the Big Apple, Luangkhot has produced desserts from scratch by the dozen — more than 45 in fact — and still counting.
“I’m getting more and more passionate,” says Luangkhot. “Whenever I have time, I always come up with new things.”
The flavors of Manhattan and Honolulu stand side by side in his most recent nibble, New York Cheesecake with Guava ($5.25). Following the success of Lilikoi Cheesecake, one of the restaurant’s most popular desserts, Luangkhot felt inspired to double his “Hawaiian cheesecake” equation with another upscale, tropical meal-ending. The luscious New York-style cake, complete with graham cracker crust, pairs beautifully with fragrant guava confiture (homemade jam) and fresh fruit toppings.
In addition to scrumptious cakes, JJ’s Euro-Asian dishes up the fusion factor, marked by a coupling of signature lobster options. If you’re easily tempted by tangy Thai flavors, you won’t be disappointed with Lobster Pad Thai, which is available a la carte for $20.95, or as part of a four-course menu priced at $32.50.
If you’re craving something creamy instead, opt for Euro-esque Grilled Lobster Tail ($20.95 a la carte; $32.50 four-course meal) featuring pasta coated with a luxurious garlic white wine cream sauce.
Luangkhot says guests may request an additional lobster tail with both preparations for only $10 extra.
“For lobster lovers — that’s what I am — double tail is always better than single. That’s why there are two “Js” (in my name), not just one,” playfully declares the chef.
So, regardless of which lobster dish you choose, be sure to make it a double, and rest assured that you won’t have to think twice about returning to the eatery for more fanciful fusions.
JJ Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.