Local Favorites With Healthy AlternativesColumns Foodie Fare
September 30, 2012
Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: If you’re going to name your restaurant after one dish, that dish better be among the best — and Loco Moco Drive Inn’s Loco Moco ($7.95) really is. Owner and chef Sheng Zhu says that it is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
“The beef patties and the gravy are homemade,” Zhu says, explaining what makes their Loco Moco stand out. “And we use fresh eggs and fresh rice.”
In addition to its namesake, the restaurant serves up other tasty local favorites at a reasonable price.
Another must-try item is Mushroom Chicken ($8.25), which features fried chicken bathed in a creamy mushroom sauce. Steak With Garlic Shrimp ($10.25), which features New York steak, also is a popular item.
Just a couple weeks ago, Loco Moco started offering breakfast, served daily from 8 to 11 a.m. Breakfast items include great deals such as Pancake ($3 for three pancakes) and French Toast ($4.50 for six pieces).
And for a true breakfast of champions, try the Super Special Breakfast ($6.25), which includes two pieces of bacon, two slices of Spam, two sausage links, two Portuguese sausages, two eggs and two scoops of rice.
Loco Moco is constantly creating new deals for its customers, including the recently added House Specials. A couple of the new specials put an emphasis on healthy eating, such as Health Plate with Garlic Ahi ($7.95). This dish features a variety of vegetables along with the tasty, seasoned ahi and is served with brown rice. And for seafood lovers, a similar new offering is Health Plate with Mahi Mahi ($7.95).
“We always change and update (dishes) based on what is requested by customers,” Zhu explains. “Sometimes we ask customers what they are looking for.” Loco Moco found in their chats with customers that a lot of diners are looking for healthier options. “They are health conscious,” he says.
On the Side
Loco Moco Drive Inn is a family-owned venture: While chef and owner Sheng Zhu works in the kitchen, his wife works at the front counter, and his brother helps out with the business aspect.
“We all immigrated from China,” Zhu explains. Zhu moved to Oahu more than 10 years ago and got started in the restaurant industry right away. “Right when I moved here, all I was doing was restaurant work.”
He worked his way up quickly in his early days in the restaurant business — going from prep work to one of the main chefs in a matter of months. Prior to opening Loco Moco, Zhu and his brother owned a restaurant in Waikiki where Zhu further sharpened his culinary skills. He opened Loco Moco Drive Inn about a year and a half ago.
While the service at Loco Moco Drive Inn is quick and convenient, owner and chef Sheng Zhu’s description of the restaurant as “fast” should not be mistaken for fast food. Rather, the restaurant uses quality ingredients, and the menu also includes healthy alternatives.
“Sometimes a lot of people think that local food is fatty or junk food,” Zhu says. “But in here, we also carry healthy items.
“We prepare all of the food daily, so it’s fresh,” Zhu says. “And most of the items are homemade.”
Loco Moco Drive Inn
Moanalua Shopping Center
930 Valkenburgh St.
Open daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.