Sunday, July 5, 2009

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue Plate Lunches

Before reviewing L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, I did a little research about L&L and found that it's a Hawaiian-based franchise with stores located mainly in Hawaii and the West Coast. The lone New York store is located 64 Fulton Street, in the Financial District. of Manhattan. It's only two blocks from the South Street Seaport and about 3 blocks from Broadway.

L&L takes the multicultural nature of Hawaiian cuisine and simplifies it for mass consumption. You'll find Hawaiian food, side by side with Japanese (ramen, sushi, soba, udon and bento boxes), Chinese (bbq roast meats) and American (i.e. hamburgers). What they've done at this franchise, and the only one west of Texas, is to create a menu that attempts to appeal to everyone, even those who haven't been to Hawaii.

I took a look at L&L's online menu and saw that sushi wasn't available on their menu. I was thinking that their New York franchisee decided to add sushi to widen their appeal. Perhaps this is because many New Yorkers haven't been to Hawaii, as New Yorkers tend to view the Caribbean as their island paradise. So, in a store that is ostensibly selling Hawaiian cuisine, we have a store where the first thing one sees is a sushi counter and a sushi refrigerator. Hmm, is this really Hawaiian?

As for the food, I have tried L&L a couple of times and have ordered their Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, Chicken Katsu and Curry Chicken Katsu as these were in the Hawaiian "Plate Lunch" section of their menu. The plate lunches consists of rice, the meat, a green salad and a scoop of macaroni salad. The Hawaiian BBQ Chicken is an excellent dish, with a sweet tasting sauce that is very similar to teriyaki. The chicken (3 cutlets) is served over a bed of long grain white rice which is a tad stickier than regular rice. There is no sauce drizzled on the chicken, but the chicken is marinated well and goes well with the rice without sauce. As for the green salad, it comes with a creamy ginger sauce and which is quite average tasting. The macaroni salad however, is just like the kind you get in Hawaii, not too creamy, but with just enough mayo to glaze the macaroni and not sour. As for the Katsu dishes, each comes with sauces on the side, either traditional Katsu sauce or curry sauce. The chicken katsu itself, is well breaded and a regular order comes with two full and large cutlets. These are simply moist and fried to the perfect crispiness.

All plate lunches come in small and regular sizes. The regular size is what I described above and comes with multiple cutlets. It is a lot of food at $7.99. I have yet to try the small size, but I would assume that it would be a tad smaller, maybe one less cutlet. Overall, the experience was very satisfying, however, the only taste of Hawaii I experienced in the lunch was the macaroni salad. When I go again, I will try the Laulau, Kahlua Pork or the Spam Musubi. Hopefully they are as good as the plate lunches. At $7.99, a lunch at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue isn't cheap, but unique in terms of getting a taste of Hawaii in New York without the tiki cocktail glasses!

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