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.

L&L 6s

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.

L&L 3s

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.)

L&L 5s

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.

L&L 4s

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).

L&L 2s

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).

L&L 1s

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



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    i wish they had an L&L in midtown..

  • The Japanese restaurant on 8th ave btw 35th and 36th used to be an L&L Barbecue. It gave me the squirts and then it closed…

  • I believe there is one on 8th and 36th (at least there was in 2005). It’s a bit north of the whitecastle.

  • @adam – Definitely not there anymore…

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    I always go there after a trip to J&R, or whenever I’m anywhere in that vicinity. My favorite is the curry chicken katsu, though there’s never quite enough curry sauce.

  • I think you definitely made a good call on getting the roasted meats, they look amazing. BBQ chicken always seems like such a rip off, because I can make it at home for cheaper.

  • We used to have spam fritters for supper every thursday at school…..with rice and peas and tinned pineapple rings….srry fashback.

  • ah… not with ya there Mamacita. Ya gotta go to L&L for the fried katsu. Maybe other Hawaiian stuff. Lau lau or kalua pork or loco moco… for roast meats, you might as well go to Chinatown… mad props for eating the spam musubi though!

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    Granted it’s far from the best hawaiian food you can get…it’s still better than nothing. Compared to west coast locations, i do think the quality isn’t as good. But sometimes you just need some mac salad and a spam musubi.

    I have to say though, their huapia (coconut pudding) is actually edible.

  • I eat at L&L more often than i’m proud to admit, as it’s average food at best. Portions match the price, and I guarantee you won’t leave hungry.

    The roast meats are probably the best option, though they’re noticeably influenced by the Chinese owners of this particular franchise.

    The sushi station scares me.

    And there’s nothing at all wrong with spam. :)

  • that spam musubi looked pathetic

  • dont get me wrong. i heart spam also

  • changed my avatar to reflect what legit spam musubi should look like

  • ooh, the roasted meats look good. My spam musubi when I went didn’t look so sad and was really quite good (beyond the nori being soggy).

    Will have to try the katsu… I’ve enjoyed the kalua pork (salty, fatty goodness) and the grilled Hawaiian chicken was only ok (post on that goes up on Monday…). Mm, curry. Mmmm… roast duck.

  • No-one did the Monty Python Spam sketch….maybe im too old.

  • Spam, spam, spam, spam and eggs.

  • Vikings!! (ok I’m bored ;-)

  • I kinda want that Katsu curry now after hearing people talk it time!

  • I was on Maui for a week a few years back and visited a bunch of plate lunch joints, realizing that a 4000-calorie lunch, along with a genetic predisposition, is why many Hawaiians, who are perhaps the world’s warmest and friendliest people, weigh 400 pounds or more.
    Many finish off their plate lunch with a two-pound shave ice, a syrup-sweetened cone of ice with a scoop of ice cream or another treat at the bottom of the cone.
    That said, I’ve ordered L&L a few times and generally been satisfied (as well as filled).

  • i go here at least once a year for the lau lau, loco moco, or mix grill. never had the katsu curry or spam musubi because i figure i can get better versions of that elsewhere. don’t think i’ve had the kalua there…

    yea the addition of mac salad and that awesome green salad with the citrus dressing is pretty common in hawaii. i think they call them plate lunches there.

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