L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, also known as L&L Drive-Inn or simply L&L, is a chain of restaurants that began in Honolulu way back in 1976. It has since expanded throughout the islands of Hawaii, other US states, and even has locations in Samoa, New Zealand, and Japan. With over 200 restaurants to date and throngs of loyal customers, we thought we’d better check out this popular Hawaiian eatery! So, we visited the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue that was situated inside the Kona’s Keauhou Shopping Center near our hotel, the Big Island of Hawaii’s Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.
L&L restaurants are centered on the traditional Hawaiian plate lunch or “pā mea ʻai” that consists of two servings of rice, a portion of macaroni salad, and features a generous serving of a hot meat entrée. Popular L&L mains are Chicken Katsu, Loco Moco, Kalua Pork, and Mahi Mahi. There are other restaurants that offer this Hawaiian style cuisine, but apparently it is L&L Hawaiian Barbecue’s “unique meal composition and signature brand of Asian and American fusion cuisine has made it stand out from all the rest”.
For some reason we thought L&L would be a service-restaurant, but when we walked in we discovered it was an Asian food court type of place. You choose your dish from the large menu on the wall, pick a drink from the refrigerator or pour your own soda from the fountain, and then place your order at the counter, grab a seat and wait for your number to be called.
Katsu Bowl – Chicken katsu (also known as tonkatsu or donkas) breaded, deep fried chicken cutlets served in a bowl of steamed white rice and a medley of steamed vegetables including baby carrots, cabbage, and broccoli. The chicken was great; extra crispy with a thin crunchy batter. The veggies were a little overcooked and soggy for my liking. However, the portion size of rice was huge and I couldn’t even finish it all.
L&L Hawaiian BBQ Mix – A hearty mix of tasty L&L Hawaiian Barbecue short ribs, beef, and chicken resting on a thin bed of green cabbage, served with creamy macaroni salad and two scoops of fluffy steamed white rice. My goodness was this a lot of meat! Hungry carnivores, you’ll go crazy for all this protein.
Although L&L Hawaiian Barbecue claims both their food and employees possess “the warm spirit of Aloha“, we didn’t feel the staff were friendly at all at this particular location–it’s a basic, no-frills cafeteria style establishment. However, we can understand why this chain of Hawaiian lunch plate restaurants is so popular: ginormous portions of food for reasonable prices certainly keep hungry customers coming back for more.