Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
I'm Helina, the hostess of JÄÄ. The very essence of JÄÄ is rooted in our family's profound passion for food, and our mission is to share extraordinary, unexpected flavors from various corners of the world with our fellow Estonians.
Today, we hold the pursuit of clear and authentic flavors in the highest regard. What matters most to us isn't merely whether our dishes meet your expectations in terms of taste; it's about whisking you away to a specific country through the genuine flavors we offer. While not all our dishes strictly adhere to the traditions of a particular nation (sometimes we playfully bend the rules), our exceptionally talented head chef, Mihkel Võsotski, enjoys the creative freedom to craft dishes that are unbelievably delicious, without being confined by authenticity.
Our journey of culinary exploration has led us to traverse the globe for many years, immersing ourselves in the local food scenes. We venture to places where the locals dine and strive to soak in as much of the food philosophy as we can. The food we seek is not exclusively Michelin-starred or street food; it's a combination of both and everything in between.
For us, food is a window into culture, an integral part of it. A meticulously prepared and thought-through dish has the power to etch unforgettable memories into one's soul. Allow me to share an example: a few years back, we dined at Asador Etxebarri, ranked third on the world's top restaurant list at the time, in the Basque Country. We savored a tasting menu, and every dish left a lasting impression. However, I still find myself unable to sleep at times when I recollect the smoky goat butter served with the bread.
Once, we found ourselves in the midst of a vast expanse in the middle of the ocean, a place both magical and ephemeral, as it eventually submerged beneath the water. On the beach, local fishermen prepared a breakfast from their catch. It was there that we had the privilege of tasting a female giant mantis shrimp (a dish that costs about €800 in a Singaporean restaurant). The taste was simply extraordinary, and the circumstances in which it was prepared may not merit description, but I assure you, those fishermen truly 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 peruse JÄÄ's menu, it might seem like the creator is caught in a whirlwind of culinary influences from around the world. Let me assure you, we are not confused. We are driven by a wealth of ideas and recipes from different corners of the globe, from Latin America to Asia.
Japanese, South Korean, Thai, and Chinese cuisines hold a special place in my heart. Simultaneously, Europe conceals hidden culinary gems that have left an indelible mark on my palate, enticing me to revisit specific countries and restaurants for a taste of my favorite dishes (for example, Blaue Zipfel in Nürnberg or Oeuf en meurette in Dijon).
When someone mentions "Asian cuisine," my immediate thought is, "Which country and region?" The culinary landscapes in different Asian countries can be strikingly dissimilar. For instance, while Chinese cuisine is often associated with spiciness, this isn't always the case. Cantonese cuisine, for instance, is milder compared to our palates. Meanwhile, Sichuan cuisine can set every bodily cavity on fire.
Then there's Thailand, a nation that graciously hosted us for many winters, giving us the opportunity to attend cooking schools and truly immerse ourselves in Thai cuisine. As a result of our extended stays and culinary education, Thai cuisine holds a special place in our hearts, and we're committed to offering authentic Thai flavors at JÄÄ.
South Korea and Japan, though not always on the best of terms, share a mutual respect and influence when it comes to cuisine. Often, it's challenging to discern which country inspired certain recipes, as they both prepare many things in a similar fashion. However, Japanese cuisine is notably more diverse, and South Korean cuisine remains a personal favorite. In fact, we've equipped our kitchen with a Korean Grill and a Mookata pan to celebrate these cuisines. I can assure you that both South Korean and Japanese flavors will grace our menu.
Given the abundance of ideas about what to share with you, we've chosen to embrace the ever-evolving nature of our menu. It keeps things fascinating for us, and we hope it continues to enthrall you too!
"Wine is an acquired taste. The more you sip, the more you savor!" – My personal mantra.
I've been there as well; I dared to explore, and now, I find myself completely captivated. Wine, often referred to as the nectar of the Gods, possesses an irresistible allure. Our profound affection for wine spurred us to take matters into our own hands. We've painstakingly imported all the wines available in our selection directly to our country. These aren't just any wines; they hail from small, highly acclaimed wineries. Following a steadfast commitment to sustainability, we exclusively import 'old world wines.' Many of the bottles gracing our collection are a genuine delight for avid collectors and true connoisseurs of fine wines. We invite you to join us and experience their splendor for yourself. Cheers!
I'm incredibly proud to have Mihkel Võsotski as part of our team! Not only is he a gifted head chef, but he also possesses a remarkable intellect, confidence, and an affable personality. Despite his youth, Mihkel exudes the wisdom of an old soul. He is a thoughtful, attentive listener who offers valuable advice when needed. Our team thoroughly enjoys collaborating with him, and it's a boon for the Estonian culinary scene to have such talent back in the country, generously sharing his expertise with us.
Timo, our cook, is a stalwart team member. He is young and deeply passionate about cooking; it's his calling.
Our front-of-house team is equally exceptional. Mari-Liis stands out as an exceptionally helpful and positive individual, always reliable when you need her. She approaches her tasks with a passion that's truly infectious, coupled with a genuine love for effective communication and taking on new challenges.
Grethe, who supports us on Fridays and Saturdays, is primarily an equestrian trainer by profession. However, she generously dedicates a few days each week to assist us. It's impossible to remain indifferent in her presence, as her energy is both captivating and contagious. A word of advice: if you prefer to stay composed, don't let her laughter touch your heart—it has a tendency to steal hearts!
And then there's our sweet Desiree. She's universally adored, and rightfully so. Desiree is diligent and considerate by nature, although, when it comes to food, she's something of a nonconformist in our family. Her culinary preferences are quite unique; for instance, she could happily survive on rice and soy sauce alone for months in Asia or opt for pasta in Latin America. While she may not be the most adventurous foodie, she is undeniably one of the most endearing people I know. Hence, her culinary quirks are easily forgiven.
Now, let us introduce you to three remarkable Junior Fairies: Keitrin, Kaisa, and Kristjan.
Keitrin has been a valuable member of our team since last spring. Her reliability, dedication, and strong work ethic make her an invaluable asset to our group, and we are delighted to have her on board.
Kaisa is our newest team member, and she has a talent for continually surprising us. Despite her daily responsibilities as a real estate broker and accountant, she never ceases to amaze us. Beyond her professional skills, she also possesses a remarkable talent as a singer.
Lastly, we have Kristjan, our youngest and most recent addition to the team. Despite being a high school student juggling volleyball, football, and studies, he still finds the time to assist us on Fridays and Saturdays. His ambition is to gain experience in every sector of the business world, and we are excited to support him on this journey.
Founder & CEO
Hostess & Accounting