Until recently, it was easier to travel to the Hawaiian Islands than find authentic Hawaiian food in St. George.
That was until this summer when not one, but two Hawaiian-inspired restaurants opened their doors. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, located at 245 Red Cliffs Drive, has experienced heavy traffic since opening less than two months ago.
Hokulia Shave Ice is also new to the area, which opened at the beginning of the summer. It is located at 20 N. Bluff Street in the Smith’s parking lot.
Both spots are crawling with locals and are bound to fulfill your taste for the tropics.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
Upon walking into L&L expect to be greeted with an enthusiastic “Aloha!” and emerged in yellow walls with cliche Hawaiian decor. The restaurant has a hole-in-the-wall feel, but as most of us know, those types of places have a way of becoming local favorites.
The vibe is fun and fast, and the food options are plentiful. With more than 50 menu items ranging from Chicken Katsu, a best seller, to Lau Lau & Kalua Pork Combo, expect to leave with a satisfied belly full of Hawaiian comfort food.
Chicken Katsu is breaded chicken strips dripping with Katsu sauce, a tangy, sweet and savory condiment that takes the dish to another level. Katsu sauce is also a staple for many other menu items, so while you’re pumping some ketchup on your plate, pump a little Katsu on too. It will add a sweet twist that ketchup can’t compete with.
With sides like macaroni salad, white or brown rice, tossed green salad or fries, you can surrender to whatever your stomach desires. The fries are over-sized and go great dipped in Katsu sauce.
Chef Tommy Wang, who spent more than six years studying authentic Hawaiian cuisine in Honolulu, said he is committed to providing genuine island dishes and ensuring consistent quality.
“I am always in the kitchen making sure that the food is being made the same way it is made in Hawaii,” Wang said.
Wang said he takes pride in offering large portions at affordable prices ranging from $2.95 to $9.95 and is now offering discounts to Dixie State University students. For $5.25, Dixie students can choose one meat, one side and a drink. All you need is your student ID and a hearty appetite.
Hokulia Shave Ice
If you’re in need of a refreshing dessert and another unique experience after dining at L&L, make your way to Hokulia Shave Ice.
Hokulia is a small, colorful shack complete with bamboo paneling and grass trimmings. The shack is intriguing, especially once you notice the sea of people typically surrounding it.
One thing you must not mistake is Hokulia serves shave ice, not shaved ice. Although the ice is technically shaved, native Hawaiians call it “shave ice”, and the folks at Hokulia are carrying on the tradition, employee Adriana Morgan said.
“We use an ice shaver that makes the ice more like snow,” Morgan said.
As opposed to crushed ice, shave ice’s fine texture allows it to soak up the flavors instead of letting them settle at the bottom, Morgan said. With flavors like dream-sicle, coconut, strawberry cheesecake and add-ons like vanilla ice cream, sweetened condensed milk and sour spray, you’re destined to arrive at a perfect Hokulia combination.
Allotta Colada, a local favorite, is a mix of banana colada, pina colada, and strawberry colada. I recommend Sno Cap style, which is made with sweetened condensed milk. The combination is sweet and creamy. You may want seconds.
Prices are affordable, too. A Short Board size is $3, Long Board is $4 and the Big Kahuna is $5.
And prepare yourself to have some time to ponder your concoction because there are typically Hokulia addicts lined up outside the shack. However, luckily the people within the shack work fast, and the wait is usually only a few minutes.
Make sure you stop by Hokulia Shave Ice before Sept. 21 when it closes for the season because once you do, you will understand what all the hype is about. Hokulia will be back next summer and hopefully will stay longer once the owners, who are from Salt Lake City, discover that here in St. George we have summer well into October. The shave ice is delicious and provides the ultimate Hawaiian experience.
So, if you are in need of a break from the desert and ready to take a trip to the islands, stop by L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and Hokulia Shave Ice. Mahalo!