Sunday, March 29, 2009

L & L

In Hawaii the migrant workers of Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino descent worked together in pineapple and sugar cane fields during World War II. At lunchtime on the job, they would often share foods from their respective cultures. The Japanese workers would take their lunches in traditional bento boxes, which have separate compartments for different items. Over time the Hawaiian culture has adapted a loose interpretation of the Japanese bento box morphed with the tradition of the migrant workers who shared their different cultural foods - into what is commonly known in Hawaii today as “plate lunch”.

Plate lunch is roughly described as a cafeteria-style lunch consisting of two scoops of white rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and a main entrĂ©e of some sort of meat. The meat dish is derived from Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, or Filipino food. Plate lunch has been a staple in Hawaii for years; it’s said the best plate lunch places are hole in the wall dives or lunch trucks. Having been to Hawaii a few times, I have experienced many plate lunches and I’ve really grown to enjoy this aspect of Hawaiian cuisine. The tradition of plate lunch has now reached the mainland and the L & L Hawaiian Barbecue franchise has been set up in about 10 states including Utah.

The dining options at L & L are quite simple. You basically have to decide what meat you want with your plate lunch. The choices are all pretty darn tasty if you ask me, so it’s really up to what kind of meat you’re feeling like that day. My favorite is the Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken. In this case barbeque sauce does not refer to the standard smoky, American barbecue sauce you normally think of. Instead this chicken is infused with flavor from a unique savory soy sauce-based marinade, likely adapted from Filipino style barbecue. If you’re feeling like something similar but would like beef instead, try the Korean style beef shortribs. If you crave sweetness, the teriyaki beef plate may be right up your alley. Feeling like fried food? The Japanese style chicken katsu is the way to go. Or if you’re feeling like it’s time for a Luau – go for the Kalua pig, a traditional Hawaiian succulent shredded pork.

There are a few other menu options which include seafood and some other Hawaiian favorites – such as Spam musubi, a sushi roll made of Spam, rice, and seaweed or the Loco Moco which consists of two scoops of white rice and two hamburger patties drenched in brown gravy over which a fried egg is placed. Sound a little heavy? This is the biggest complaint I’ve heard about Hawaiian food from various people. But perhaps as a consequence of offering this cuisine outside of the Hawaiian islands, L & L has started to offer a healthy options menu with scaled down portions, brown rice, and seafood such as salmon cakes, ahi tuna, or mahi mahi. So if you are a little health conscious, there are healthy alternatives here as well.

What I like about the Hawaiian plate lunch is its simplicity. It’s not real fancy but it’s really delicious; it’s just good hearty food that fills you up. It actually reminds me a lot of the food I ate growing up. On a day when I need something fast and filling to go, I drop by L & L to get my plate lunch, pop open a POG (Passion Orange Guava) juice (another Hawaiian favorite), and dive right into this comforting, soul-satisfying meal.

L & L Hawaiian Barbecue ~ Salt Lake City, Utah
358 South 700 East (and a Provo location as well)


L & L Hawiian Barbeque on Urbanspoon