Enjoying plate lunch for less than a dollar

Columns Lite Bites

June 28, 2015

Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: Bodie Collins

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is again offering its 76-cent plate lunch promotion June 30 from 10 a.m. to noon at its Keeaumoku location (inside Walmart). This is L&L’s 10th year doing this, which is a way for them to give back to the community, as all of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Goodwill Hawaii.

Customers can start lining up at any time, and as long as you’re in line by noon June 30, you will be able to get your 76 cents plate lunch (choices are Kalua Pork with Cabbage, Chicken Katsu or Hamburger Steak). You may receive one plate per person, however, you can go back in line if you wish to after you get your first plate.

“We average about 2,000 meals per year (during this event),” says Bryan Andaya, L&L vice president and chief operating officer. “Some people start lining up from the night before. We have some very loyal fans. It’s become more of not so much getting the 76 cents plate lunch, (but) being the first in line and beating the crowd.”

Also, as an added bonus, this year L&L is giving away a year supply of plate lunches (52 plates). To be eligible, you must pick up an entry ballot by 9 a.m. and be present at 10 a.m. (when the winner will be selected and announced). No purchase is necessary to enter.

Also, Pepsi fountain drinks will be sold for only 10 cents (16-ounce cup), and King’s Hawaiian sweet bread rolls will be sold for just 25 cents (pack of four), while supplies last.

“Even though King’s Hawaiian is no longer headquartered here (they’re in California), they’re very much a part of Hawaii as a brand,” notes Andaya. “They were here for a long time, and just like us, they’re all over the Mainland, so we decided to team up with them for this promotion this year, and they were very generous.”

The King’s Hawaiian sweet bread rolls will be sold in line during the event, and all proceeds also will be donated to Goodwill Hawaii.

L&L president and CEO Eddie Flores also is expected to attend the upcoming 76 Cents Plate Lunch event. This special price represents the opening of the first L&L Drive-Inn in 1976 on Liliha Street (which is still in business). The name L&L even comes from the name of the original founders of that Liliha eatery, Lee and Lee.

Famous for its plate lunches, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue offers a mix of Asian, American and local cuisine, such as Hawaiian BBQ Beef, chicken and short ribs; Loco Moco, Fried Shrimp and Mahi Mahi; as well as burgers, musubi and saimin.

For the 76 Cents Plate Lunch event, three of the establishment’s most popular dishes will be available for the special price: Kalua Pork with Cabbage, Chicken Katsu and Hamburger Steak.

The Kalua Pork and Cabbage is made fresh in-house, and served with two scoops of white rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. The Hamburger Steak comes with homemade gravy that is prepared deliberately light to bring balance to the dish. “Other gravies out there are pretty heavy and rich,” explains Andaya. “You already have the burger, along with rice and mac salad, so you try to put something else heavy in there and it’s just too heavy.”

As for the local favorite Chicken Katsu, it’s one of L&L’s original menu items and continues to be one of its best sellers in the Islands. Andaya says the secret is in the ingredients and preparation, as well as L&L’s original katsu sauce, which tastes tangy, sweet and sour — different from traditional Japanese katsu sauce.

“I think our strength is that everything is made fresh in the store,” he adds. “Nothing is pre-cooked. When it’s prepared right, it tastes really good and fresh.”

According to Andaya, L&L’s recipes were created by Flores’ mother Margaret and L&L founder and chairman emeritus Johnson Kam. Since its start, there has been very little variation to the menu until recently when the company added healthier options, such as brown rice and tossed green salad.

The business also has grown exponentially throughout the years to 198 locations throughout the United States; as well as internationally with restaurants in Japan, China and New Zealand, and soon in the Philippines (slated to open this summer) and in Malaysia (in Kuala Lumpar this fall).

“We’re also opening in Nashville, Tenn. this summer, so I don’t know who followed who, but Marcus Mariota is going to be there, so it’s perfect timing for his debut,” adds Andaya. “One of the partners in that location is a Titan, Eugene Amano.”

Closer to home, L&L will be opening July 1 at Ala Moana Beach Park, starting with the concession stand near Magic Island and just in time for Fourth of July. Andaya says the full L&L menu will be offered, including catering. The other concession at the Ewa end of the park will be open about a month or two later.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

710 Keeaumoku St. (in Walmart)
Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-midnight
Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-midnight
Note: Many locations throughout Hawaii; for a complete listing, visit hawaiianbarbecue.com.

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