Pork, Chicken, Beef, Seafood, and SPAM! (L&L Hawaiian BBQ)

26 Apr

In your typical foodie world, adventurous eating is the equivalent of building your foodie resume.  For carnivorous American foodies, this often means exploring tasty animals/animal parts that are exotic and, well, not white meat chicken.  Growing your dining “experience” means embracing an “I’ll try anything once” attitude and watching your dining companions cringe as you consume something right out of the pages of Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating or an episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods (guilty confession: I am personally not a huge fan of offal or Andrew Zimmern).  But as mainland USA foodies continue to embrace sweetbreads and thousand year eggs, one protein that remains unloved is the infamous, “eat only in case of natural disasters and extreme food shortages,” mystery meat Spam.  The canned, processed wonder is the butt of countless foodie jokes.  Residents of Austin, Texas have gone as far as hosting an annual April Fool’s spoof festival with a Spam cookoff challenge, “who can make Spam edible!?!?”  In fact, I’m pretty sure simultaneously having Velveeta and Spam present in your pantry permanently disqualifies you as a foodie in mainland USA (I am almost 100% sure that my pantry has never had both of these items present at the same time… uh huh).

As mainland foodies eat Velveeta mac and fried Spam and egg sandwiches in the privacy of their own homes in fear of judgement, residents of Hawaii continue their public love affair with Spam that started during World War II.  Spam is so popular in Hawaii that it’s served at McDonald’s, and since 2007, also at Burger King.  In 1999, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (open in Hawaii since 1976) brought the love of Spam in forms of musubi, saimin, grilled and topped with egg, along with other Hawaiian BBQ specialties to the mainland via California.  In mid-March this year, Texas gained its very first L&L location in Lewisville.

L&L offers counter service with affordable plate lunch options, all under $10 and with choice of mains like BBQ (chicken, beef, and short rib), fried seafood (mahi mahi and shrimp), pork (lau lau and kalua), chicken katsu, and loco moco.  A la carte items like Spam musubi and shrimp tacos are also available.  In addition to the slew of Hawaiian specialties, this Texas location also features more familiar “Texan” items like pulled pork and BBQ chicken sandwiches, cole slaw, baked beans, mashed potatoes, etc.  In short, there’s something on the menu for everyone in the family.

On our first visit, we started off with the famous Spam musubi ($1.75):

A slice of grilled Spam smeared in a teriyaki-like sauce atop a chunk of white rice, all wrapped in nori.  The whole thing was too big to eat easily (a little too much rice?).  Grilled Spam has a completely different taste than uncooked, cold Spam and is actually tasty with the sweet-ish sauce.

BBQ Combo Plate ($7.95)

Like a typical plate lunch, the BBQ mix combo came with two scoops of steamed white rice and one scoop of passable macaroni salad.  It’s a heaping pile of grilled meats that could easily feed two.  Teriyaki grilled beef and chicken didn’t bring anything new to mainland tastebuds.  The only standout in this combo was the short ribs, thinly sliced so that upon grilling, the fatty trim gained a crunchy outer exterior that exploded with richness when bitten into. 

Pork Lau Lau and Kalua Pork ($8.25):

The kalua pork with cabbage was a little salty on its own, but mixed in nicely with the steamed white rice.  The dark ball of mystery in the upper left hand corner of the photo is pork lau lau, pork roast wrapped in taro leaf.  Pork lau lau opened:

The taro leaves added an element of exoticness for mainland tastebuds and gave the pork a subtle smokiness.  The texture was that of a southern BBQ pulled pork shoulder but more moist.  The wilted taro leaves tasted like cooked spinach but were much denser and mushier.  The taro leaves, when eaten by themselves, almost had the consistency of dense mashed potatoes.  This little bundle of mystery turned out to be my favorite item of the day.

A few weeks later, I returned for a quick bite in the form of two mahi mahi tacos ($2.75 each):

The mahi mahi was nicely seasoned with a perfect golden batter.  However, the cabbage slaw inside the taco was too dry and the tortillas tasted like they’ve been sitting out of the package for too long. 

With its fast counter service and slightly exotic cuisine, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a great addition to the suburban Lewisville dining scene.  With affordable prices and an expansive menu, the restaurant is perfect for families looking for a quick bite but don’t want to resort to fast food.  And if you’re ever craving hamburger patties topped with brown gravy and fried eggs or just a simple slab of grilled Spam, L&L might be the only place in the area that can satisfy that fix.  Spam-lovers, here’s your chance to show some public affection.

Rating: 3 / 5

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
360 E Round Grove Rd
Lewisville, TX 75067

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15 Responses to “Pork, Chicken, Beef, Seafood, and SPAM! (L&L Hawaiian BBQ)”

  1. foodczar 04/26/2008 at 12:30 pm #

    Actually, Donna, the history of Austin’s Spam-O-Rama is quite interesting. It was started by the band The Uranium Savages, a wonderful, frat-rock-esque parody band that continues in operation to this day. Their shows are actually quite the hoot, just good, clean, “boys will be boys” fun. These days, the Spam-O-Rama is covered by the Food Network. Go figure!!!

  2. Scott 04/28/2008 at 9:36 am #

    Cool find, Donna.

  3. Deacon-Frost 04/28/2008 at 10:35 am #

    Looks tasty, I have a slew of spam t-shirts and i love stuff about spam but not spam itself. People always tell me “oh its horrible” when im wearing the shirt and I say look at the ingredients, pointing to my chest, “Pork, water, sodium nitrate, thats healthier than what you are eating for lunch i guarantee” That argument usually wins. Buuuut, I still dont like it. But grilled, thats gotta be worth a try. I thought that taro leaves tasted bitter do they take on a different flavor when cooked that way?

  4. foodczar 04/28/2008 at 2:56 pm #

    Donna, I think your readers would enjoy a link to the Spam-O-Rama website, so here you go:

    http://www.spamarama.org

    The event has been independant for 30 years, but is now being taken over by Hormel and moved to an unspecified date in the fall.

  5. donnaaries 04/28/2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Deacon: I haven’t had tarot leaves in other preparations but in this form (wrapping the pork lau lau), I would say it’s low on the bitter scale (maybe a tad bitter like green tea, but nowhere near that of something like bittermelon)

    Food Czar: Thanks for the information regarding Spamarama. I had the festival’s old website linked in the original review (corrected thanks to your comment). I’ll confess, I haven’t had a chance to look through it all in detail, just the section about the cookoff.

  6. sweetnsavory 04/28/2008 at 3:37 pm #

    oh man. i’ll be in dallas for the next couple days, but won’t be able to make it to lewisville to try out the spam musubi. it sounds really good.

    fyi, the meat in your third picture looks like galbi to me.

  7. donnaaries 04/28/2008 at 4:11 pm #

    sweetnsavory, yes they’re listed on L&L’s menu as kalbi short-ribs.

  8. Margie 05/03/2008 at 3:27 pm #

    I’m really intrigued by that tarot leaf thing.

  9. Stacy 05/09/2008 at 12:17 pm #

    I just read about the newly-opened L&L this morning in the Dallas Morning News “Guide” section. I couldn’t be happier, considering we can only manage to get out to Hawaii once a year.

  10. ken inn 05/26/2008 at 5:53 pm #

    YO. it’s TARO leaves, not tarot. tarot is some gypsy card game. taro is what poi is made out of. SHEESH!! wassamatta, you haoles no can read or what?

  11. donnaaries 05/26/2008 at 10:46 pm #

    Ken, brain fart spelling mistake corrected. Can’t wait until “wassamatta” and “haoles” appear in the next edition of Webster’s.

  12. donnaaries 10/30/2008 at 3:06 pm #

    L&L just opened a second location near the Plano/Frisco border at 8404 Preston Rd.

    Source: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/416913#4138616

  13. John Soo Hoo 02/14/2009 at 1:10 am #

    Aloha Donna,

    I’m one of the partners of the Plano L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and enjoy reading your blogs. I’ve read your article on the Lewisville L&L in the past and somehow ended up back on your article again tonight and noticed your yummy pictures did not include desserts. Please stop by the Plano L&L and try out some of our desserts and let us know what you think. Mahalo!

    John

  14. Amy 07/29/2009 at 11:02 pm #

    I lived in Hawai’i for quite a few years and just LOVE L&L! I truly wish they would put one in Jacksonville, Fl. They would make a killing here with all of the Military folks that miss the island style plate lunch!!! Anyone want to open one down here? 🙂

  15. Mike 11/09/2009 at 4:59 pm #

    I just moved back from Kauai. I was looking for a saimin place in Dallas on Google, but only Hamura’s was coming up and then I stumble upon this?!? I live within 5 miles of the Lewisville L&L and am anxious to try it out and to bring friends. This probably just filled up at least one meal spot a week. Thanks for having this blog or I probably wouldn’t kept driving past it none the wiser.

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