How Sweet it is to Dine at JJ’sCover Story Features
May 10, 2015
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
Just a few months ago, JJ Luangkhot celebrated a very special birthday of sorts. The grand occasion was not for him, one of his friends or even a family member. Instead, it was a milestone marker for another very meaningful part of his life — JJ Bistro & French Pastry, his Kaimuki restaurant that’s embarking on its 16th year of satisfying loyal and new patrons alike with a unique brand of fusion cuisine.
As owner and chef, Luangkhot continues to offer customers a blend of Eastern and Western flavors they won’t taste anywhere else. Originally from Laos, the restaurateur fine-tuned his French culinary skills while initiating his fine-dining career in New York City. After moving to the Islands in the early ’90s, he was able to meld together pieces of his multi-cultural path to inform the one-of-a-kind Euro-Asian cuisine that’s been adored — and devoured — all these years.
At the cozy bistro, diners may go to town on an array of lunch and dinner temptations, including pastas, sandwiches and pizzas, as well as fusion-based specialty entrees, prix fix meals and four-course menus. Diners who frequent the eatery know to leave room for dessert, as JJ Bistro is widely acclaimed for its electrifying display case of 45 fresh and classy pastries.
After 16 years in the same location, Luangkhot knows the importance of seeing his menu evolve through creating new and exciting bites for patrons to enjoy. “We’re going to add more and more options for customers,” he says. “We never stop working for you.”
The chef debuted one of his brand-new appetizers, Maryland Crab Cakes ($12.95), exclusively for Dining Out. Like many of his creations, the dish calls on ingredients and cooking techniques Luangkhot picked up while working on the East Coast. Featuring panko-crusted Maryland crabmeat, the perfectly crisp pupu lights up with plum vinaigrette and mixed greens. Exemplary of the chef’s knack for using non-traditional flavor combinations, Maryland Crab Cakes gets a local twist from a juicy slice of fresh pineapple, which perfectly contrasts the texture of these deep-fried delights.
In honor of its 16th anniversary, JJ Bistro also is expanding its daytime menu with a Gourmet Lunch Set. The new offering aims to provide regulars with a wider variety of rice and noodle dishes — from Thai Red Curry to Southeast Green Curry. Patrons may choose from chicken, shrimp, seafood or lobster to accompany their entrée selections, all of which come with rice, side salad or soup of the day.
Both the Gourmet Lunch Set and Maryland Crab Cakes will be available from tomorrow.
Alongside JJ Bistro’s growing menu are its signature items that are here to stay. Lobster Pad Thai ($20.95) continues to be one of the top-selling dishes, as it adds an upscale touch to the Thai classic. “Everyone mostly offers Pad Thai with simple chicken or seafood, but for me, I wanted to make it more high-end,” says Luangkhot, when describing his decision to add lobster to the dish. “This one is more on the tangy side compared with most Pad Thais in town. Many people say we have the best on the island.”
Fisherman Pot Pie ($16.95) has been another popular dish since it was introduced 10 years ago. It presents a winning recipe of shrimp, salmon and scallop blended with zucchini, eggplant and bamboo shoots inside flaky puff pastry. Bringing it all together is JJ’s velvety house-made green curry sauce. And to top off any meal, be sure to try Chocolate Pyramid ($5.95 individual, $25 cake for 5-6 people, $35 for 10-12, $55 for 20-24, $135 for 36-40), Luangkhot’s famous truffle cake. While JJ Bistro & French Pastry continues to enjoy its sweet 16, patrons can look forward to the chef’s next restaurant project in the works, which will showcase a modern high-tea experience.
JJ Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.