A few weeks back, I had to head on up to the City of Industry to take care of some business. Because of the Missus work schedule, this was a rare solo trip....in fact, we haven't found much time to head back up to the LA or even the OC very much in the last couple of years as things have been quite busy for us. After taking care of business, I needed to grab a bite to eat. My first thought was the rather new location of Chengdu Taste in Hong Kong Plaza....but man, there was a line outside the place. So I thought about doing what had been brewing in "mi cabeza" for several years. While we lived in the Rowland/Hacienda Heights area for several years, I had never really taken to the place, that is, I never felt that "this is my home". Honolulu is where I'm from and will always be "home". I now feel that San Diego is my home. For some reason, I never felt "at home" in LA, though I have some fond memories of the place, it's where I met the Missus, (well, not really as it was on a flight, She on Her way back to LA, me headed to Fort Smith Arkansas) where we got married and initially settled down.
Anyway, I decided to head to Puente Hills Mall.
Yes, strange, I know. One of the really funny things was; the first time I passed Puente Hills Mall was at night and I instantly recognized it....it was Lone Pine Mall in Back to the Future...that Robinson's May was still there back then. These days, the mall seems even more run down and seedy than it did then. Especially the Food Court.
The Missus sent me a text asking me where I was eating. When I told Her She replied "WHAT! You can do better than that!" Which is totally true. And yet, there's a story behind this. You see, the first L&L Hawaiian Barbecue outside of Hawaii opened in this mall. No big deal now....but for an ex-pat Kama'aina back in 1999-2000 it meant a lot. Back then, L&L served up a decent plate lunch....... And for a homesick local boy, it was just down the street. So now, all these years later, I decided to see what was going on here.
Back when they first opened here, I knew the owners....I wish I could remember their names, but they really worked hard to keep up the quality. I don't think they own the place anymore. It looks a bit run down....but so does the entire food court. I decided to go with a mini locomoco. This was actually the first one of the year!
There were two things positive about this loco; the egg which was nicely sunny-side up and the mac salad, which wasn't messed with too much; had the perfect amount of mayo and was ice cold. Other than that, this wasn't very good. The gravy was pasty and had no flavor, the rice was dry, some of which was hard. Worse of all was the train wreck called a hamburger patty, which was some leathery substance that I took a bite of, then put to the side. Also....no Tabasco.....
If I recall, in his spiel; Eddie Flores talks about franchisees having to come to Hawaii to learn about food prep and the "Aloha Spirit". Maybe they do....but it looks like it's forgotten about fairly quickly. I don't think there's any quality control, nor standards of service as I was treated like that hamburger patty. In some ways this was good. I now have closure and have no reason ever to return.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
1600 S Azusa Avenue
City of Industry, CA 91748
This visit had me wondering, what happened to some of those places we always used to visit when we lived here. We know about places like Chicken Box, Hong Kong Fishball House, Donut King, Yi Mei Deli, Shau Mei, and TS Emporium. But there were others I had in mind, so I decided to take a trip to some of the more obscure places. I did notice that the old Albertson's is now 168 Market.....which means that there isn't a "western" supermarket in this strip of Colima Road! Taiwan Deli is still there, but it looks like the menu is some pseudo Taiwanese-Sichuan mash-up?
It was nice to see Hacienda Village Meats is still there....we used to stop by for various meats and the Missus loved the variety of Italian drinks/sodas. In the same strip mall is what used to be the Missus favorite dried beef stop, which is still there.
I then set off to check out Marukai in West Covina, only to find it was now something called Tokyo Central.
And while I understand that Tokyo Central performs under the same umbrella as Marukai, that is, now owned by Don Quijote, this was quite a shock.
Much of the store looked the same, except for the huge prepared food area, which kind of reminded me of Todai for some reason.....
There was some kind of anniversary thing going on this day....the crowd in the fish department was quite large.....
There was even a "Ninja" in attendance.......though I think just the fact I could easily find him might make him lose his membership?
I understand that Marukai is doing away with memberships this year....though it seems that Tokyo Central has memberships for discounts. Is this the future?
1420 S Azusa Avenue
West Covina, CA 91791