Ah, Hawaii! The tropical islands are famous for the spectacular beauty of its landscapes, its laid-back lifestyle, and its cuisine with its pan-Asian influences. Among the culinary traditions in the islands, the Hawaiian plate stands out, thanks to the strong presence of the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue restaurants in Hawaii as well as in a dozen other states, U.S. territory, and several countries in Asia.
The plate lunch is closely associated with L&L because of its pioneering work in introducing it to the fast-food industry. This is the quintessential Hawaiian meal that typically consists of two scoops of fluffy white rice, an entrée and a serving of macaroni salad. The similarity with the classic Southern meat-and-threes is obvious but the plate lunch has roots in Japanese cuisine, particularly the bento bunch so it’s unique to the islands.
Below are the latest L&L menu prices.
|Stir Fried Garlic Shrimp||$11.55|
|Lau Lau & Kalua Pork Combo||$12.95|
|Fried Fish Fillet (Mini)||$8.45|
|Fried Fish Fillet (Regular)||$11.25|
|Fried Shrimp (Mini)||$8.45|
|Fried Shrimp (Regular)||$11.25|
|Shrimp Curry (Mini)||$8.45|
|Shrimp Curry (Regular)||$11.25|
|Garlic Ahi (Mini)||$9.55|
|Garlic Ahi (Regular)||$12.45|
|Chicken Katsu (Mini)||$7.65|
|Chicken Katsu (Regular)||$10.45|
|Chicken Katsu Curry (Mini)||$7.65|
|Chicken Katsu Curry (Regular)||$10.45|
|Chicken Cutlet (Mini)||$7.65|
|Chicken Cutlet (Regular)||$10.45|
|BBQ Chicken (Mini)||$7.65|
|BBQ Chicken (Regular)||$10.45|
|Mochiko Chicken (Mini)||$7.65|
|Mochiko Chicken (Regular)||$10.45|
|Lemon Chicken (Mini)||$7.65|
|Lemon Chicken (Regular)||$10.45|
|Cold Ginger Chicken (Mini)||$7.95|
|Cold Ginger Chicken (Regular)||$10.95|
|Kalua Pork Cabbage (Mini)||$8.25|
|Kalua Pork Cabbage (Regular)||$10.95|
|Pork Lau Lau (Mini)||$8.75|
|Pork Lau Lau (Regular)||$12.95|
|Teriyaki Steak (Mini)||$8.25|
|Teriyaki Steak (Regular)||$10.95|
|Beef Stew (Mini)||$8.25|
|Beef Stew (Regular)||$10.95|
|Beef Curry (Mini)||$8.25|
|Beef Curry (Regular)||$10.95|
|Loco Moco (Mini)||$8.25|
|Loco Moco (Regular)||$10.95|
|Hamburger Steak (Mini)||$8.25|
|Hamburger Steak (Regular)||$10.95|
|BBQ Short Ribs (Mini)||$9.25|
|BBQ Short Ribs (Regular)||$12.75|
|BBQ Chicken (Bowl)||$7.45|
|Kalua Pork with Cabbage||$7.65|
|Teriyaki Beef Sandwich||$4.35|
|Fried Fish Filet Sandwich||$4.35|
|Soft Drink (Small)||$1.99|
|Soft Drink (Medium)||$2.35|
|Soft Drink (Large)||$2.60|
In 1976, Eddie Flores turned a small building previously used as an L&L Dairy retail store in Honolulu into the first L&L restaurant. He kept the L&L part of the name and, thus, was born the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. The privately-owned company is also known as L&L Drive-In in its home state while its corporate headquarters are in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Aside from the restaurants in the United States, the chain also has restaurants in New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The L&L prices in all the restaurants are competitive in comparison with restaurants, fast-foods, and food trucks that offer similar fare.
What They’re Famous For
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is famous for its Hawaiian lunch plate, which can include a choice of pork, beef, fish, chicken or shrimp along with two large scoops of fluffy, usually steaming, white rice and a side of macaroni salad. The lunch plate has its origins in the small cafés and lunch wagons that catered to the blue-collar workers of the islands. The contents were specifically chosen for their high carbohydrate, protein and calorie content, which provided sufficient energy for working in tropical conditions.
The L&L Hawaiian plate isn’t just your usual carbs-and-protein meal either. The restaurant chain has earned several awards and has been cited by local and national magazines for its menu, particularly its Hawaiian plate. The company has also been recognized as among the country’s top restaurant franchised chains, an accolade that the company doesn’t rest on since it continues to improve its brand.
Why Eat Here
If you’re looking for the so-called state food of Hawaii, then the L&L is among the best places to be. The typical Hawaiian barbecue lunch served in its restaurants consists of a single serving of mayonnaise-drenched macaroni salad, two servings of white rice, your choice of meat, such as seafood, pork, chicken, or beef. The combo is usually good for one person to fill his or her tummy, as well as provide the energy source until the next meal.
The thing about the L&L Hawaiian plate is that the various culinary influences are apparent from the first bite. The stronger Pan-Asian influence isn’t surprising since Hawaii was a magnet for immigrants coming from Japan, China, South Korea, and the Philippines. But there are also subtle influences from Europe (Portugal) and New England, again because of immigrant community.
Due to the differences in preferences across the chain’s locations, each restaurant can slightly change its menu to address the local customers’ expectations. For example, in the mainland United States, some restaurants allow diners to substitute steamed vegetables or a tossed green salad instead of the starch-rich macaroni salad. Brown rice and banana may also be offered as healthier options to the white rice and macaroni salad, such as on Samoa, while local dishes may also be offered in the Chinese and Japanese L&L restaurants.
The Hawaiian plate’s protein source, such as the chicken, beef and pork, is usually either grilled or fried so diners have a choice. The meat is properly prepared so it’s juicy, succulent and flavorful although realistic expectations must be set. The L&L restaurants are, after all, casual dining places, not fine dining places but for good value for the money, you will like the Hawaiian plates here.
Aside from the Hawaiian plates, there are also bowls. The teriyaki beef bowl has rice and vegetables; the BBQ beef bowl has barbecued beef with steamed vegetables on top of rice; and the BBQ chicken bowl has barbecued chicken instead. There’s even the classic Spam combo with grilled spam on top of rice and the noodle soup with Spam.
The restaurants have a casual vibe with students, couples and groups of families and friends enjoying the simple yet delicious and filling meals. The wait staff are usually friendly, helpful and courteous, while the service at the counter is quick and efficient. The facilities including the restrooms and parking lot are kept in good condition so diners can start and end their dining experience at L&L on a good note.
To learn more about L&L or to find a location near you, visit their website at www.hawaiianbarbecue.com.