Downtown Lunch: L&L Barbecue is the Hawaiian McDonalds
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (insuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.) This week he hits up L&L Barbecue, which Kathy YL Chan (our resident expert on all things Hawaii) calls the Hawaiian McDonald’s.
I hope I didn’t make a mistake by not ordering anything with the word “Hawaiian” in the title on my visit to L&L Barbecue. Then again, I didn’t see anyone eating any of those menu items so I felt pretty confident going with the strategy of ordering what everyone else was eating.
I overheard a customer saying how good the curry chicken katsu is, so I was tempted to go with that- but in the end became mesmerized by the BBQ roasted meats at a different table (probably for bit too long, since the guy put his arm over his plate and gave me a look.)
Once I was done licking his arm, I went up to the counter and ordered the 2 meat combo for $7.99 which comes with a small portion of garden salad and a strangely addicting macaroni salad on the side (which I learned from Zach & Kathy’s Midtown post about Hawaiian Island Grill, is a typical Hawaiian side dish.) For my choices of meat, I went with roast duck and the spare ribs, both tender, fatty, and flavorful.
I had originally heard about this place from a former coworker who is a member of an actual “Spam club”, which seeks out restaurants which serve Spam. She had told me they served it there so I couldn’t pass up trying a piece of Spam Musubi for $1.79. I thought to myself, “take one bite just so you can say you ate a piece of spam and then throw it away” but I actually took a few bites. The nori was too chewy but the spam itself was salty and a bit junky, in a good way. I almost finished that piece (you can only eat so much Spam I think).
The place is a bit crazy with what else you can get. Besides having bento boxes, burgers, and “Hawaiian Atkins plates”, they also have a full sushi bar in there with a separate menu named Time Sushi (yeah I know, terrible name).
I gotta say that the Hawaiian food Zach posted about from Hawaiian Island Grill, looked about as good (maybe a bit better) and was priced cheaper than L&L, where most dishes tend to be in the 8-10 range. In the end I think I made a good decision with the bbq meats. Next time I might try the Hawaiian BBQ chicken- if I don’t go with the curry katsu that is!
L&L Barbecue, 64 Fulton Street (btw. Gold+Cliff), 212-577-8888
Post and photos by Daniel Krieger
Editor Postscript: I talked with Kathy YL Chan, who has been to this branch of L&L. She says it’s not as good as the franchises in Hawaii (natch), but it’s ok. She also said that chicken katsu is what L&L is known for in Hawaii, and the NYC version is not bad (so Daniel, you can order with confidence on your next visit! -Zach