Don’t Mess With Meat Loaf

Columns Ono, You Know

August 11, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Let’s get back to basics with stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. Make no mess about it, meat loaf is one of those feel-good foods composed of protein, carbs and fats that can easily be regarded as the “most American” of all meals.

There’s just something about this meaty creation that stirs up memories of home, family and times spent together around the table. So, when I need to decompress from a stressful week, there’s nothing better than to drown myself in hearty meat loaf to soothe my soul.

This week, it’s time to get to the meat of things! Come along with me to the following Ono, You Know locations, as I dig deep to reveal the juicy, irresistible secrets of meat loaf. Together, we’ll dish on simple, home-cooked varieties, as well as the most decadent of meat loaf that will leave you satiated for days.

Restaurant Epic

Meat loaf has been a culinary staple for generations, and here at Restaurant Epic on Nuuanu Avenue, this all-American classic is of epic proportions. Owner and chef Brian Chan puts an avant-garde spin on this familiar entree with Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf ($14). The name alone will have you salivating in a heart beat. And the taste? Now, that will send your taste buds into ecstatic bliss!

Epic’s meat loaf sits on a bed of polenta (Italian corn meal) infused with Parmesan, Cheddar cheese and butter.

“We cook the polenta for two hours so that it’s of the smoothest consistency possible,” Chan says.

Obviously, Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf deserves only the finest, so it’s no surprise that 8 ounces of ground pork and ground beef result in an all-consuming meat loaf. It’s stuffed with horseradish, A.1. Steak Sauce, sauteed onions, eggs, rosemary, thyme, garlic and chives, and wrapped in strips of crispy bacon. To top it off, a fried egg, two spears of charred asparagus and a demi beurre blanc sauce make this lunch too good for words.

“The bacon adds a smoky element to the meat loaf,” Chan says.

Anything with bacon is always a plus in my book.

With a name like Restaurant Epic, it’s safe to assume that you can only expect the best!

Restaurant Epic
1131 Nuuanu Ave.

Wailana Coffee House

Wailana's Meat-Loaf Extraordinaire ($13.35)

Wailana’s Meat-Loaf Extraordinaire ($13.35)

It’s 10 a.m. on a Monday morning and sunshine streams through the windows of Wailana Coffee House on Ala Moana Boulevard greeting patrons partaking in breakfasts full of pineapple pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast and more. Wailana’s friendly staff caters to their every need and promptly serves up the needed fuel for the day ahead.

Somehow, I feel like the odd man out. Why? Well, while most guests are diving into traditional breakfast favorites, here I am devouring meat loaf. And it’s not just any form of meat loaf — Wailana succeeds in every attempt to wow diners with its Meat-Loaf Extraordinaire. Priced at $13.35 and available at any time of the day, this dish seems too good to be true. It is the epitome of comfort food, and offers a meat loaf comparable to the one that comes straight out of mama’s kitchen. The meaty exterior presents an irresistible crust, while the inside remains tender and juicy. No knife is needed here. Diced carrots, onion, garlic, salt and pepper also give it that home-cooked flair that we all know and love, not to mention the rich gravy that smothers every crevice of the meat loaf. Imagine a gravy comprised of a zing of flavors thanks to piquante peppers, chives, sour gherkins, mushrooms, tarragon, shal-lots and (here’s the best part) crusty bits of meat loaf from the pan. Now, this is what I’ve been waiting for all morning!

Then, to top it all off, the meal comes complete with a baked potato, a loaf of warm sourdough bread, a grilled pineapple spear, salad and beverage, along with a chocolate sundae topped with whipped cream and macadamia nuts for dessert. What more could you ask for? Wailana Coffee House is a winner with home-cooked comfort food!

Wailana Coffee House
1860 Ala Moana Blvd.

Stage Restaurant

Patrons are giving a round of applause for Stage Restaurant, located on the second floor of Honolulu Design Center. An interior designer’s dream come true, this eclectic eatery possesses exquisite artwork, vibrant hues, statement lighting and elaborate furnishings, making it just as stimulating for the eyes as it is for the palate.

Renowned for its American cuisine accented by Asian influences, Stage Restaurant brings the best of both worlds front and center. Take its Homestyle Meat Loaf, for example. Priced at $18, this best-selling lunch entree features 10 ounces of ground beef blended with hints of celery, onion, carrot, mayonnaise and ketchup. The one not-so-secret ingredient however, lies in the addition of oyster sauce, which chef de cuisine Tim Petersen says “brings a different flavor of salt.”

The verdict? Stage’s Homestyle Meat Loaf is out-of-this-world onolicious, deserving awards both for taste and presentation. The restaurant’s special brown gravy, button mushrooms and slivers of onion complement the dish exceptionally well, and a side of mashed potatoes, whipped to perfection with heavy cream, salt and butter take you over the edge. Seriously, what’s not to love about this dish?

Here’s an insider’s tip: If you love Home-style Meat Loaf as much as I do, it’s available for dinner, too, but only upon request! So, what are you waiting for? Get on over to Stage Restaurant, where the spotlight shines bright on meat loaf.

Stage Restaurant
Honolulu Design Center
1250 Kapiolani Blvd.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best