Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
I am Helina, the hostess of JÄÄ. JÄÄ was created in order to share our family's great passion, food with fellow Estonians. We want to share the unexpected, interesting dishes and flavors from different parts of the world.
As today, clear and authentic flavors are very important to us. Perhaps the most important thing for us is not even that all the dishes meet your taste expetations, but that you can travel to a specific country through the genuine flavors (which does not mean all the dishes are strictly from a certain country - sometimes we "cheat". Our talented head chef Mihkel Võsotski has free hands - meaning that if he creates something unbelievably delicious, we don't care about the authenticity - we just enjoy)!
We have been traveling the world for years and "hunting" for local food is our mission. This means that we go to places where locals go and try to spend as much time as possible there. We just need to get the core idea of the food philosophy. The food is not necessarily Michelin star or street food, but as it happens - sometimes one or the other.
For us, food is a reflection of culture and an important part of it. A well-executed and thought-through dish can create indelible memories for a lifetime! For example, a few years ago we went to Asador Etxebarri, the third place restaurant in the world's top list at the time (Basque Country). Of course, we took his `tasting menu' - all of which dishes were exceptional in one way or another, BUT honestly, sometimes I still can't sleep when I remember the taste of the smoky goat butter offered as a side to his bread!
Or, for example, the Philippines, where it's actually difficult to call the food they offer `a food culture`. They essentially have no ideas of their own, and any restaurant's cleaning lady is willing to take over the cooking if the cook does not show up for work!
We once found ourselves in the middle of the ocean on a "stretching'' expanse, it was a magical and unforgettable place and disappeared under the water at one point - as if it had never been there.
On the beach there were fishermen who prepared breakfast from their catch. In short, it happened that we were able to taste a female giant mantis shrimp (in Singapore, such a female animal in a restaurant costs about €800). Its taste is simply excellent! The conditions in which this animal was prepared for us do not deserve writing, but I assure you that these fishermen really knew what they were doing! The female mantis is so precious because she lives in a burrow at the bottom of the ocean and almost never leaves the house because the male feeds her. Since the female does not move much and does not waste energy, she is much larger than the male.
When you look at JÄÄ's menu, one might get the feeling that the creator is a bit confused. The countries dishes we serve are just rather different. I assure you, we are not confused! There are a lot of ideas and recipes from different countries we want to share them with you - from Latin America to Asia.
Japanese, South Korean, Thai and Chinese cuisines are particularly close to my heart. At the same time, there are also gems in Europe, here and there, that have enchanted my taste buds so much that I have sometimes traveled back to another country and to a particular restaurant specifically to eat my favorite dish there again (a'la, for example, Blaue Zipfel in Nürnberg or Oeuf en meurette in Dijon).
When someone says "Asian cuisine", for me it always immediately raises the question: what kind of country and region's cuisine? The diet of different Asian countries is sometimes VERY different! For example, it is believed that Chinese cuisine is definitely spicy but it is not always so. Take even Cantonese cuisine, it's more "bland" than ours! However, Sheshuan's kitchen, just by looking at it, the dragon begins to squeeze out of every body cavity.
Or, for example, Thailand. Thailand hosted us for so many winters and of course, what one can do when you have a great interest in food and have time to spare? Of course, you go through some cooking schools! So did our family. Thanks to our `long enough`stays there and the cooking schools, Thai cuisine is very close to our hearts. We will certainly offer authentic Thai cuisine in JÄÄ without blinking an eye!
South Korea and Japan. Although they don't really "love" each other too much, these two countries have a lot of respect and influence from each other! Sometimes you can't tell who got the recipes from which, because a lot of the same things are done in the same way. However, I must admit that Japanese cuisine is richer. Yes, South Korean cuisine is one of our favorites, that's why we even have a Korean Grill and a Mookata pan in our kitchen too, but let's just say that the Japanese are more diverse. In any case, I promise that both cuisines can be tasted on JÄÄ!
Since there are really many ideas about which food to share with you, we have decided to go the route of changing the dishes on the menu often. It's interesting for us and hopefully, for you too!
Wine is a learned taste. The more you drink, the more you drink! my own quote
That happened to me too. I tasted too much and now I'm hooked! Wine is a drink of Gods! Our love of wine led us to bring all the wines we offer to the country ourselves. These are small but very highly rated wineries. Based on the principle of sustainability, we import only `old world wines`. So many of the wines in our selection are a treat for the collector or serious wine lover. Be sure to come try!
I'm so proud we have Mihkel Võsotski in our team! Not only that he is a talented head chef, he is also a great mind, confident and lovable person! Mihkel is a young man but has an old soul in him. He is wise, considerate, he listens (hears) and gives advise when needed. Our team enjoys working with him and Estonians should be happy that such a talent has returned to Estonia and shares his world with us!
Timo, our cook is a new team member. We are just getting to know him. Once we "sort" Timo out, we'll give better introduction 😉
Our front team is great too: Mari-Liis is most helpful and positive person ever! - one can always count on her! She's eager to learn and anything she does, she does it with passion! She loves a good communication and challenges!
Grethe helps us out on Fridays and Saturdays. Her true profession is an eventing (equestrian) trainer but to diverse her life and avoid talent waste, she comes to help us out few days a week. Only a stone can stay cold when communicating with her! Grethe's energy is just so infectious and captivating! A hint: if you want to stay cold, don't make her laugh - her laughter will steel your heart!
The last but not least; our sweet Desiree. Everybody loves Desiree. She's hard working and considerate character. Desiree is my daughter. Food wise, she's the black sheep in our family. Yes, she has travelled around the world with us BUT when it comes to food - ohh! In Asia, she's able to eat rice and soy sauce (only) for months! In Latin-America, she picks the pasta. So I'm sad to say it but she's not a foodie. But honestly, she's most adorable person and therefore I forgive her!