Appetizers Done Right at JJ BistroColumns Pupu Picks
September 2, 2012
Story By: Steve Murray | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Sitting inside JJ Bistro & French Pastry on Waialae Avenue, one gets a glimpse of owner JJ Luangkhot’s vision of a New York-style French/Laotian eatery — just in a better climate.
The brightly lit bistro is open and comfortable, and provides a continuous view of the always active Kaimuki neighborhood that has grown to become one of the Island’s hot spots for dining and slightly out of the ordinary shopping. JJ’s fits right in to the eclectic mix.
From pupus to desserts, JJ’s specializes in light fare that mixes Asian flavors with French techniques and plating to create dishes that look as good as they taste. Such is the brand new Shrimp Kataife ($7.95).
Fresh shrimp is lightly sauteed with sweet chili and served on beds of baked phyllo dough, which provides a crunchy base for the sweet shrimp. The colorful dish is then accented with a sweet chili and an avocado dipping sauce to provide even more flavor options.
Another new option is Baked Scallops on the Half Shell ($7.95). Tender raw scallops are topped with a JJ’s special mayo, chili and mozzarella cheese sauce, and baked until the edges are golden brown.
Few things are more French than pate and JJ’s Parisian ($7.95) would satisfy any Francophile. The duck mousse is mixed with truffles and port wine to create a creamy spread that goes, oh, so well with the fresh French bread and small side salad that comes with the dish. A port-wine gelatin adds extra flavor and texture when dropped on top.
Baked Lobster Avocado ($7.95) has been a long-time customer favorite. Lobster is placed on French bread, topped with the Chef’s Special Sauce and mozzarella cheese, and baked. The mayo, chili and avocado dipping sauce with Granny Smith apples provides a sweet and sour element to the naturally rich dish.
For all its tasty pleasure, few really experiment with escargot. That’s too bad because the salty/sweet mollusk is delicious with nearly everything. Thankfully, JJ steps away from the typical ramekin baking/serving dish in favor of a French Baguette cradle that mixes things up in just the right way. The baguette is stuffed with escargot, a garlic-infused ranch dressing, mozzarella cheese and baked until the bread absorbs all those wonderful juices that before you had to spoon out. Why dip for juices when the bread has already done the work?
JJ Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
Open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.