Chef shares passion for fusion cuisineA La Carte Columns
June 26, 2016
Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
At JJ Bistro and French Pastry, according to chef and owner JJ Luangkhot, “Dessert comes first.”
And indeed, when you walk into the Kaimuki bistro, the first thing you’ll notice is a tantalizing display case filled with various pastries.
But to overlook the rest of the menu — the restaurant also boasts pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and meat and seafood entrees — would be a mistake. Originally from Laos, Luangkhot had his first experiences in the kitchen alongside his mother.
“Growing up, cooking — and especially eating — was a huge part of my family,” he says. “We bonded over food. My mother in particular was a great cook.”
When his mother got sick, Luangkhot opted to stay home and cook for her.
“From then on, I always found a passion for cooking and creating,” he says. “I love the idea that something as simple as food and having a meal with each other could bring people together.”
Later, Luangkhot moved to New York to study under French pastry chef Jean Marc Burillier. At JJ Bistro, diners will find a marriage of these disparate influences.
“I chose to combine my Laotian background with the French techniques I learned from my mentor,” Luangkhot explains. “I think that Laotian flavors are very tasty, and the French technique is very unique and sophisticated. I love French presentation … so I thought it would be great to put the two together, combining Laotian flavors with French-style presentations.”
The menu includes items like appetizer Baked Lobster Avocado ($10.95), which is French bread topped with lobster meat, a sweet chili aioli and Mozzarella cheese — all served with a creamy avocado spread.
Moving onto entrees, there’s Quail Bello ($16.95 for a single, $24.95 for double), deep-friend quail accompanied by mashed potatoes, sweet peas, carrots and red bell pepper in a Portobello red wine sauce.
The Fisherman’s Pot Pie ($16.95) combines mixed seafood — including shrimp, salmon and scallops — with bamboo, eggplant, red bell pepper and zucchini, all inside a puff pastry, with a light green curry sauce.
Whatever you decide to order, you of course should finish it up with one of those desserts from the case.
“I like to think of our desserts as a happy ending to every experience,” Luangkhot says.
JJ Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.