Chef Alan Takasaki's career began kind of how you'd expect: washing dishes. From there, his journey split from the beaten path. Sure, he worked in esteemed restaurants across the world. But he also had all his belongings stolen in Europe, a twist of fate that forced him to move back to Hawaii. When he finally opened Le Bistro, it was just before September 11, 2001—an unfortunate time for businesses everywhere, but especially new ones. The chef persevered and eventually became celebrated in Niu Valley.
When Wine and Dine Hawaii asked Chef Takasaki about his style of food, he simply answered, "I don't really know what it is." Free from the burden of having to pigeonhole his cooking, he's created an eclectic menu of traditional French dishes with a Hawaiian twist. Sure, he whips up bistro classics, such as escargot and steak in cognac sauce, but he also highlights the island's Japanese influences with entrees such as teriyaki chicken and hibachi-style grilled beef skewers.
You've heard the phrase a diamond in the rough, but in this case, the rough is the Niu Valley Shopping Center. With fancy script scrawled above its double doors, Le Bistro hints to passersby that it's more refined than the neighboring fast-food restaurants. Inside, its crisp white tablecloths and dark-wood trim infuse the space with just enough opulence. And that's exactly what Chef Takasaki was shooting for. "I just want this to be someplace that's friendly and comfortable," he told Honolulu Pulse.
Chef JJ built himself an empire out of sugar, complete with chocolate pyramids covered in cocoa powder. He wanted to bring all things European to Hawaii, so he founded JJ Bistro & French Pastry, where he crafts delectable desserts and a menu of entrees fusing French influence with local ingredients. His baked lamb wellington features crisp bell pepper within a shelf of flaky pastry, and his seafood brioche combines the daily catch with shiitake mushrooms and black-pepper sauce. In addition to the aforementioned chocolate pyramids, he crafts key-lime tarts, chocolate-banana confit, and black-currant cassis in individual servings. He just uses bigger mixing bowls to create the same mouthwatering cakes for birthdays or weddings.
Despite the general European flair, the chef can't resist showing off local cuisine in all its glory with his daily specials of fresh-caught seafood. The mini seafood menu features shrimp, mussels, crab, and lobster, cooked to order and bedecked in one of four sauces, such as garlic butter or J'Jun sauce, Chef JJ's blend of Cajun spices with seldom-used contractions.