Well, there I was in Grove Plaza Center with the intent of grabbing a bite at Karihan. Unfortunately, there was no Kare-Kare on this morning, and for some reason, all of the food looked like it had been "sitting around" for quite a while....at 11am in the morning. So I decided to head next door to A&D Hawaiian BBQ.
I've been kinda down on the whole Hawaiian BBQ thing.........most of it seems to be a bunch of folks who could care less about what they plop on a plate, who are just looking to make some $$$ (replacing Spam with Treet - heresy I say!). And frankly, after looking over the menu at A&D, full of the usual suspects, I wasn't particularly moved. But it had been so long since I've had even a borderline terrible Lau Lau, that I was willing to sell my soul, and drop my standards. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, there was no Lau Lau, only Kalua Pork available.
So I made an adjustment, and placed my order, and waited. Meanwhile, I gazed upon the borderline neon green walls. During my wait, the very nice Woman manning the counter was constantly cleaning. Now A&D isn't the most visually pleasing little place, the tables have various names, initials, and other verbiage carved into them, and it does look a bit aged for a place that's only been in this location for a year, but man this woman was really cleaning......
Unable to make a decision, I had ordered the ubiquitous "BBQ Mix" ($7.29). The nice lady brought the styrofoam container over to my table, and when I grabbed it, it felt like it must've weighed two pounds.....
And everything was hot...so hot that it steamed up my camera lens, and I had to wait for a minute or two to take photos. As with all these BBQ Mix plates, all the regulars were in attendance. The BBQ Short Ribs...please don't call them Kalbi....they are about as close to Kalbi as I am to Brad Pitt. That said, these were not bad, not as tough as the usual cross cut short ribs are, the marinade is not as sweet as many, which is fine with me.
The BBQ Beef was well marinated, pulling toward more of a ginger-shoyu flavor. It was also fairly tender, and without the usual "sugi", which is what we call nylon fishing line back home, the usual tough, and inedible tendon that is usually found.
The BBQ chicken looked on the light side, but was pretty tender. The norm would be chicken that had been marinated, pre-cooked, dumped back into a steam tray with marinade, and reheated before serving, making it really tough. I really got the feeling, based on the wait time, and how hot everything was, that these folks cook their stuff to order.
I really liked the Mac Salad, it was nice and cold, with a perfect amount of mayo, and some salt for a change. The rice was a bit hard and dry, though.
There was one more item that I had to order. On the door is a sign. That sign says "6 Piece Chicken Wing Special - $1.99". Yes, it seems that A&D is in the Salt and Pepper Chicken wing business.
The batter on these is light, and crisp, and the chicken is juicy, but it does not hold up well, and lacks the "crack-like" addictive flavor.
This way too much food for me, so I took half of it home. What I thought was interesting, was that the Missus had pretty much the same opinion. And I didn't even tell Her what I thought of the food. They say after you've been married for a while..........
A few weeks later, I was in the area, and decided to drop by A&D again. This time I paid a bit more heed to the menu, and had to chuckle at the "Healthy Meals" portion. since when is Chicken Katsu or Crispy Shrimp, considered healthy? Perhaps they mean a "healthy appetite"?
Being the predictable person I am, I of course ordered:
Yes, a Loco Moco ($6.99). I readily admit that I have a thing about the two easy over eggs, hamburger patties, gravy, over rice. It is something that I long for on a visceral level. So how does this rate on the modified "Rubio Scale", created by James Rubio of Big Island Grinds. For those not familiar with the scale, you can check out my post from waaaaay back in 2005. And in case you're wondering, why the Big Island? It is believed that the Loco Moco was created on the Big Island circa 1949. Sorry to say that I wasn't able to sample the Loco from the Lincoln Grill, but the Missus and I have had more than our share from Cafe100.
So moving right along.......
#1 - The Burger - Pure and simple pre-formed. Tough. - 2.0 points
#2 Eggs - A bite overcooked for me. But worse of all, they didn't clean the griddle before frying the eggs. Too many black, "mystery bits". - 1.0 points
#3 Rice - Perfectly cooked this time. - 3.0 points
#4 Gravy - Wow, really salty....really, really, salty. I've hardly ever left gravy to sit and congeal, but had to this time. - 1.0 points.
#5 Stuffs - In this case the Macaroni Salad, which wasn't as good as my previous visit, but still pretty good. - 3.0 points.
For a total of 13.0 points, which ranks it as being fairly mediocre, even by Hawaiian BBQ standards.
Overall, A&D serves up standard Hawaiian BBQ fare. I felt that with regards to the BBQ, you get a pretty hefty size portion of food, which was pretty good. There are also $4.99 specials such as Chicken Katsu. The service was, at least for me, a notch above the standard indifferent service at most of these places.
A&D Hawaiian BBQ
Grove Plaza Center
2220 Plaza Blvd
National City, CA 91950
Open Daily - 11am - 9pm