“About two months ago, people started spreading rumors that we were going to close,” says Jean Marie Josselin, owner and chef of Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill in Koloa. “That isn’t true. We are open, serving dinner every day from 5 to 9 p.m. and we are here to stay.”
At Josselin’s, a Wood Stone oven crackles with kiawe (mesquite), the hot coals add a whisper of smoke to every dish. Bright orange decor matches the color of the oven’s flames and diners watch a line of chefs cook in the open kitchen.
Dedicated customers hope for a glimpse of the regional legend, but Jean Marie divides his time between Josselin’s and his newly opened restaurant Jo2, which is located in Kapaa. I can say that he will be at Josselin’s on Friday, Dec. 19 as the honored chef for last of four book release parties.
Jean Marie is designing a special menu for the event as well as adding some new items to the restaurant’s menu. Readers of Honolulu magazine voted Josselin’s as a finalist for Best Kauai Restaurant in the 2015 Hale Aina Awards. They will be happy to know that some favorites remain on the menu.
Seared Diver Scallops ($17) are plump and sweet. The gorgeous dish glistens with masterfully cooked and wonderfully caramelized scallops that are sliced in half and placed on a bed of creamy saffron risotto, made rich with Parmesan cheese and tarragon beurre monté, a silky emulsified butter sauce.
Hoisin Braised Short Rib ($27) is served in a cast iron pot. Wedges of tomatoes, zucchini and heirloom potatoes are surrounded by a pool of savory braising liquid. A meaty chunk of succulent short rib, which was marinated in hoisin sauce and braised for 11 hours, is garnished with a sprig of rosemary, perfuming each bite with a piney scent.
Slow Cooked Butterfish ($31) is another customer favorite. The flavorful filet is cooked at 275 degrees until it caramelizes and is served with stir-fried long beans and zucchini as well as a delectable soy and mirin reduction and fiery yuzu, ginger and sriracha paste.
New menu items include sumptuous lobster balls spiced with ginger and wrapped in thinly sliced phyllo pastry; juicy portabello mushrooms stuffed with roasted red bell peppers, cubes of crisp cucumber and creamy goat cheese served with house-made naan; miso marinated hamachi collar with Chinese mustard and sudachi lemon sauce; and deep-fried whole red snapper topped with scallions, ginger, soy and sesame oil.
“We have an excellent team at Josselin’s,” says Jean Marie. “I know people are a little confused because I opened a new place and they think that I am moving there and not coming back. But I am very, very committed to Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill.”
Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Koloa
Marta Lane, a Kauai-based food writer since 2010, offers food tours and is the author of “Tasting Kauai: Restaurants – An Insider’s Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island.” For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.