Spread the Cheer With Holiday Pupus

Ali Carte Columns

December 22, 2013

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Leah Friel

Christmas is near, and you’ve probably decorated a festive and twinkling tree, wrapped all your presents (well OK, some of them) and now you’re ready to celebrate with family and friends, right? But wait a minute, there’s one more crucial piece of the holiday puzzle to have in order: What will you be feasting on?

This year, JJ Bistro & French Pastry in Kaimuki is putting a special touch on the holidays with its soft shell crab and oyster pupus. Perfect for a traditional seafood dinner on Christmas Eve or for adding a fusion-filled bite to your New Year’s soiree, you can’t go wrong with owner and executive pastry chef JJ Luangkhot’s unique blend of European and Asian fare.

There are three new jolly specials to dive into, the first of which is an irresistible Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab ($8.95) with lemon pepper aioli. In addition to having a satisfying crunch on the outside, it bursts with warm, juicy crab on the inside.

“Since everybody loves soft shell crab, this one will be very nice for an appetizer – something light, crispy and tasty,” says Luangkhot.

Oyster lovers will rejoice at the chef’s other starters:

Baked Oysters with Crab Meat ($8.95) prepared with a special chili aioli sauce and mozzarella cheese; and Fresh Oysters ($8.95) topped with a vinaigrette-style homemade salsa accented with Italian herbs.

When surveying the options, the only hard part is deciding which one to go for. “I go with soft shell crab … we all love some kind of deep-fried food,” advises the chef. “But for someone who likes raw kinds of food like sashimi, then the fresh oysters are great.”

So what is it about JJ’s appetizers that make them so nom-worthy? According to Luangkhot, it’s as simple as pairing ingredients with the right sauces. In Baked Oysters, for example, his Asian influenced chili aioli is beautifully tailored to oozing pieces of mozzarella and seafood.

“If you have a good sauce, you have good food,” he adds.

Diners may enjoy these holiday pupus a la carte during lunch and dinner or as part of the bistro’s signature four-course menu ($24.70 regular, $29.70 Christmas Eve and Day).

Before leaving, you absolutely must try Buche De Noel (yule log) cake, as JJ Bistro is renowned for its French-style desserts. The seasonal cake is available in personal portions ($5.95) or party sizes (serves 6-8 for $35; 10-12 for $45; 12-16 for $55; 20-24 for $75), and comes in flavor combinations including chocolate with raspberry, mocha or chocolate butter cream. This year, the eatery offers vanilla frosting for the first time as well, and diners may customize their flavor choices.

Now that you have wondrous feasting options to choose from, you’re officially ready for the holidays.

JJ Bistro & French Pastry

3447 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96816

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