Plate Lunch in Denver Two Times

Starbucks latte and shortbread cookies do not really qualify as palate cleansers, but then again, I’m talking latte between two episodes of Hawaiian gorging. Plate lunch is not a refined food, so I may as well chase it with espresso.

On the way south to Golden, where Hawaiian Hut Barbeque is located, I had an iPhone episode. Google Maps works fine for me on the Blackberry, but I quail before the options on Todd’s phone. I read him a list of icons from the screen and asked what to do. Finally he pulled over and looked at it himself. Then he said, “Oh, you had it in pedestrian mode.” What kind of phone has pedestrian mode, anyway? I guess I should take a college-level course to figure out Apple’s intuitive design for this phone. I can’t help it, people; it flummoxes me.

I wonder if repeated iPhone episodes have ever propelled a couple into divorce court. It’s not the first time I’ve wanted to see how many times I could bounce the damn thing. (But, Grandmother, what a big screen you have!)

The first sign all is not right with HH BBQ: it sits just inside a home furnishings store. I suppose that’s not so much weirder than Rise and Shine being inside/next to a pizza shop. I ordered Loco Moco and Todd ordered chicken katsu.

Then the gods of food sent the second sign: the fire alarm went off. Apparently the heat-detecting smoke alarm over the stove had not been set high enough. While Todd and I stood far enough away from the alarm to be able to converse and a couple of firemen ambled over from the fire station next door, I took this picture of the building, which used to be a bowling alley.

The food came in styrofoam takeout containers with 1 large compartment and 2 small ones. The large section was lined with gooey white rice, topped by two hamburger patties (made in-house, according to our waiter), brown gravy, and two fried eggs. Another scoop of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad (made with fish flakes or canned tuna, I think), filled the other two compartments.

The first few bites pleased me, mostly because of their heat and the general gooeyness, but that soon gave way to the canned taste of the gravy. I ate both eggs and 1 burger, but I quickly got disenchanted with separating the rice from the styrofoam. Ever since a garlic pasta incident in the early 1990s—let’s just say Tagamet was involved—I prefer my food to have no contact with styrofoam.

Todd’s chicken katsu was dry and hard, but he liked the sauce and the macaroni salad. A sample of kahlua pork tasted mostly of liquid smoke, which Todd said was used to disguise the fact it wasn’t really smoked Hawaiian-style (wrapped in leaves and put in a pit to cook for a long time).

The best thing about Hawaiian Hut BBQ was the friendly staff. All three people there were attentive. The women’s bathroom, however, was not well thought out (sign number 3).

I suggested to Todd that we visit Oasis Grill, which a friend of ours had recommended as having good Hawaiian food. It’s in Aurora, but I figured that we were already in south Denver. Why not swing around to the eastern edge of the metro area?

Todd thought it was a crazy idea at first, but then he unexpectedly agreed, if I promised not to have any more iPhone episodes.

We found Oasis Grill in one of many strip malls but didn’t go in right away; instead, we went in search of a coffee shop. And then Todd realized the Starbucks was located 2 doors down from L&L’s, yet another Hawaiian place. (I don’t understand why wig stores and Hawaiian food concentrate on the southern edge of the Denver Metro area. Can anyone enlighten me?)

We hatched an even crazier plan: to sample food from 3 Hawaiian restaurants in one afternoon. Let the indigestion begin!

At L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, a chain with over 200 franchises, the fast food setting seemed more fitting for plate lunch, and the large pictures of Hawaiian landscapes reminded me of my honeymoon. I was disappointed that L&L also serves its food in styrofoam takeout containers: so far I was up to 5 styrofoam containers in one day.

But the food impressed me from the first bite. The rice was sticky, not gooey; the macaroni salad was a creamy yellow color, heavy on the mayo; and the BBQ chicken tasted of teriyaki, slightly sweet and tender. Todd liked the kahlua pork better, declaring it “more real.”

Then we packed up and returned to Oasis Grill. Once we skirted the pool table and talked to a waitress, we discovered the kitchen was closed. The staff there also does catering, and this Saturday they were off-site.

I can see another trip to Aurora in my future.

For a review of Da Hawaiian Grill, the kitchen at Oasis Grill, see Ruth Tobias’s post in Denver magazine.
L & L Hawaiian BBQ on Urbanspoon

About Beth

I grew up in Kansas City and have lived in the Denver Metro area for 25 years as of 2012. I attended Georgetown University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. I like birding, hiking, scuba diving, gardening and ecological restoration, and trying out new wines and chocolate.
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3 Responses to Plate Lunch in Denver Two Times

  1. Todd Bradley says:

    This review was hilarious. I forgot I still have video and still photos on my phone from the “Hawaiian BBQ catches fire” episode. The best thing I can say about the day is that we learned two important lessons. First, don’t waste our time visiting Hawaiian Hut BBQ. The menu looks really good, but the food just doesn’t back it up. Second, L&L is – so far – my favorite Hawaiian food in all the Denver metro area. Since there is only one place I haven’t tried yet, the Oasis Bar and Grill, I’ll have to check it out and see how that compares.

    Top prize will either go to L&L or Oasis. Denveater seems to prefer Oasis. We’ll see.

  2. Beth Partin says:

    Thanks! I’m looking forward to trying Oasis as well. And after that we can go to Lincoln’s Roadhouse for Cajun. Maybe we should do a survey of bars that serve good food other than burgers.

  3. go to L&L says:

    Hawaiian Hut Barbeque in Golden is horrible at best….The food tasted like they marinated it in salt to cover how bad it really was, or to prolong the life of the food dince no one in their right mind would go there. Take a look, it seems unsanitary and I would advise to steer clear of this place…

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