...JO2 (Kapaa, Hawaii)

Overall - 9/10
Food - 9/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Jo 2 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
This past August we spent two weeks in Hawaii with family, one of which was spent in the beautiful lush island of Kauai.  There were many great eateries that we enjoyed but the standout experience was at JO2 in Kapaa.  Not the kind of place you would bring a toddler, we managed a 'date night' with the help of babysitters in the form of eager grandparents.  We reserved a table at JO2 with high expectations as my brother-in-law and his wife gave rave reviews after they went a few nights earlier.  We were not let down; everything from the service to the food was done with extreme care.  We left JO2 inspired by their ability to creatively meld Asian flavours with local Hawaiian ingredients.  After doing some research, we weren't surprised that the chef, renowned Jean Marie Josselin is a pioneer of Hawaiian regional cuisine.
Instead of the typical bread you would normally expect, we were given house made taro chips and gazpacho dip.  The chips were pleasantly crisp and went well with the wasabi infused gazpacho.  
We choose four appetizers to share: the beef rib, ceviche causa, duck confit kale salad and scallop and shrimp ravioli.  The beef rib was cooked rare but was perfectly tender with familiar bold Korean flavours that were a fine balance of salty and sweet.
This kampachi ceviche causa is possibly the most beautiful dish of food I have ever seen.  A causa is a Peruvian potato salad in the shape of a terrine.  The fish was super fresh with the citrus and the delicate flavours were not overpowered by the seasoning or the creamy potatoes. 
The duck confit kale salad first appears to be just a pile of kale, but look underneath and there is a generous amount of duck confit mixed with shiitake mushrooms, carrots and daikon in a delicious savoury toasted sesame dressing.  At first glance, it seems there is a lot of kale, but here JO2 got the balance right with the kale being wilted ever so slightly by the heat of the duck.
The scallop and shrimp ravioli were bites of shellfish heaven with the thin and delicate pasta allowing the filling to stand out.
Our mains consisted of lamb rack and beef cheeks.  The lamb was prepared closer to the rare side, but again the meat was tender and moist.  The lamb was well seasoned with a Middle Eastern spice rub, and when eaten with the jus was a delicious combination.
The beef cheeks were braised to perfection, topped with shaved crispy lotus root and sat atop a tasty combination of gnocchi, what we remember to be fava beans and braising liquid.
By the time we were given the choice of dessert, we only had space for one to share- the banana cream pie with banana gelato.  Although this was a nice light ending to our meal, this deconstructed version was not exactly our favourite as we wished it was a bit more decadent in the form of a traditional pie.
If you are able to go, we highly recommend JO2 as a fantastic fine dining option in Kauai. Even if you can't, check out their drool-worthy, awe inspiring Instagram account.  While you're there, check us out @dcfortheloveof  for more frequent updates. 

1 comment: