I’ve never been to Hawaii and until just a few years ago, I’d never even heard of Hawaiian barbeque, let alone tried it. Then one day back in 2008 I happened to be over in Hercules, having just finished up a much-longer-than-necessary (non)occupancy verification, entry and re-keying of a foreclosure assignment. Tired, hungry and cranky, I was just about to break down and actually eat at Subway when I noticed a place next door called L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. I ordered a regular Chicken Katsu and from that meal alone, I became an instant Hawaiian BBQ devotee.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about Hawaiian Barbeque, including that the term itself is an invention by the founder of L&L to entice us ignorant mainlanders and that in Hawaii it’s called (rather boringly) Plate Lunch. I’ve also learned that L&L is the MacDonalds of Hawaiian Barbeque (although I will admit L&Ls can be fine) and that there are many better options scattered around the East Bay.
When you’re in Concord (and even when you’re not) one of the best of these options is Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ. Located in a small strip mall on Willow Pass Rd (just blocks away from two of my habitual destinations: Fry’s and Ranch 99) Waikiki’s take on the plate lunch is one of the best in the East Bay.
As you’d expect, the interior isn’t fancy…
… but the prices are excellent.
When it comes to lunch in the middle of a busy day, I often opt for a lighter option – say, a katsu or barbequed chicken sandwich and a scoop of Waikiki’s unparallelled Mac salad.
The sandwich is modest – lettuce, mayo, onion and tomato plus meat on a hamburger bun. No pretensions but still tasty. The mac salad is to-die-for – rich, creamy, perfectly textured – and I’m sometimes tempted just to buy 3 scoops and skip the sandwich. Altogether, this meal sets you back $3.55 and, unlike eating even a mini, you don’t feel like you’ve got to go take a nap when you’re done.
Still, at times I can’t help myself and I’ll order a “mini” (smaller meat portion, 1 scoop each of rice and mac salad). If I’m feeling really glutinous, I’ll go for the regular (a ton of meat, 2 scoops of rice and 1 scoop of mac salad).
I started out as a nearly exclusive consumer of chicken katsu – perfectly cooked breaded, deep fried chicken thighs – with a tangy-sweep katsu sauce for dipping.
The same chicken is used for several other items, served with different sauces. Lately, in fact, I’ve switched over to the “chicken cutlet” which comes covered in brown gravy.
The ultimate in island comfort food.
Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ
1680 Willow Pass Rd
Concord, CA 94520