When Crunchy Met Juicy
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There comes a point in the middle of the day that calls for a surrender, where your mind must raise the white flag for the rioting hunger in your belly. What if your wallet feels similarly empty? That’s your cue to head to L&L Hawaiian Barbecue in Kapolei for local favorites and fusion at palatable prices.
Chicken Katsu ($6.50, mini) put L&L on the map as the place to go for regional comfort food. “It’s the local signature favorite for L&L,” says Henry Tam, franchise owner and manager. “It’s the No. 1 best-seller.”
Why? Because opposites attract. Both juicy and crunchy, the katsu’s sweet spot is achieved with the right amount of cooking. “You can’t overcook it or it gets dry,” Tam says. Its crunch comes from panko that’s added to the batter along with flour and seasonings such as garlic powder.
“Mini” really seems like a misnomer here. The ample portion includes one scoop of rice (brown for an additional 50 cents) and one scoop of the oh, so creamy mac salad, tossed salad or french fries.
A taste of the new menu item Salt and Pepper Pork Chop ($9.25) — only found at the Kapolei location — and you may have a new “usual” to add to the cravings rotation. Thank Tam for his take on this dish, not often found outside Chinese eateries.
After tasting local versions, he presents his own take on the meal in order to fill a need for more fiery fare. “Many people were asking for spicy food,” Tam says.
You got it! Hot peppers, garlic, salt and black pepper coat the thin fried pork chops, which are first marinated in sesame oil and finally served with two scoops of rice and one scoop of mac salad.
If you are one of those two-is-better-than-one types of people or simply seriously hungry, go for a combo. New York Steak with Garlic Chicken Combo ($11.99) is one option. “People love to try chicken and beef,” says Tam.
L&L takes the two proteins to the next level with garlicky fried pieces of boneless chicken and tender, succulent USDA-choice New York steak cooked to your liking and cut into easy-to-dig-into pieces. Add two scoops of rice and one scoop of mac salad and go from starving to satisfied in a matter of minutes.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
590 Farrington Hwy., Kapolei
Daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.