Loco for Loco Moco

Columns Ono, You Know

January 25, 2015

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

It’s nearing the end of January, and while I applaud those who still are sticking with their New Year’s resolutions of following an exercise regiment and making healthier food choices, let’s face it: Sometimes it’s fun to be rebellious, break the rules and forget about counting calories, especially when it’s all for the love of loco moco — the ultimate “ono kine grinds” for kamaaina.

Full of tasty calories and cholesterol, there’s so much to love and to be said about this unassuming dish, which is believed to trace its origins back to the Big Island in the 1940s. The original loco moco consisted of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty and sunny-side up fried eggs swimming in scrumptious brown gravy. Simply put, loco moco is my joie de vivre.

Therefore, this week called for a friendly loco moco showdown. The following OYK restaurants put their creativity to the test, and while no version of the dish was alike, each rendition came up on top in its own unique way. Whether prepared as a “no-fuss” comfort food or dressed up to the nines, the loco moco offers a genuine taste of Hawaii. It’s all gravy, baby!

Kahai Street Kitchen

Do you associate “gourmet” with plate-lunch status and convenience? Usually not. However, Kahai Street Kitchen will make you think again, as this Kalihi establishment effortlessly produces high-quality, sophisticated fare in plate lunch fashion. For chef David Yamamoto and his staff, composing an elegant dish with speed and accuracy is routine. In fact, Kahai Street Kitchen frequently provides catering services for weddings, parties and corporate events.

Ono for a fancy plate lunch? The eatery is open Tuesday through Friday for lunch service, and accepts call-in orders as well as orders placed in person. And beginning Tuesday, Kahai Street Kitchen will feature its Crab Cake Loco Moco (originally priced at $10.50) for $9.95. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this weeklong special. Imagine homemade crab cake with lobster cream sauce, served on a bed of white rice with two eggs cooked any style, along with a choice of potato mac or tossed salad.

“The cakes are made using real shredded crab meat and lump crab with a mix of finely chopped vegetables, special seasonings and surimi, which gives the cake a bit of sweetness,” says Yamamoto, adding that the patty is then coated with bread crumbs before they’re deep fried a golden brown. A decadent lobster cream sauce is poured over the crab cake, and garnished with masago and sea salad.

So, pay a visit to Kahai Street Kitchen and experience fine-dining fare out of a Styrofoam box.

Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St.
845-0320 (fax orders for 10 people or more to 842-4273)

Big City Diner

Big City Diner's Spam Katsu Loco Moco ($9.99) and Loco Moco with Kimchee Fried Rice ($13.98) NATHALIE WALKER PHOTO

Big City Diner’s Spam Katsu Loco Moco ($9.99) and Loco Moco with Kimchee Fried Rice ($13.98) NATHALIE WALKER PHOTO

Expect big things from Big City Diner, Oahu’s award-winning, go-to establishment for family-friendly meals of generous portions and value. Local favorites are easy to come by, and under the direction of executive chef Dennis Franks, dishes are made fresh utilizing locally sourced products.

BCD’s menu features an assortment of items and weekly specials that are sure to please. Currently, we’re in Week 1, but I live for Week 6, because that entire week is dedicated to the effervescent Spam Katsu Loco Moco. Priced at $9.99, it is a mound of rice piled with two thick slices of panko-breaded Spam steak, two eggs cooked to your preference and doused in a savory brown gravy. Upon the first bite, my immediate reaction was to take another. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner? The concept is pure genius.

“This was an idea that we came up with, and it kind of took off,” says catering administrator Rona Tam.

But if you can’t hold off until Week 6, then, no worries, BCD also dishes up a delicious loco moco served with its renowned kimchee fried rice for $13.98.

It’s the simple pizazz that’s laced into the loco moco that makes it taste better than ever. Go Big City or go home!

Big City Diner
Pearlridge East
98-211 Pali Momi St., Ste. 900 (and four other locations islandwide)

Eggs ‘n Things

Synonymous with all things breakfast related, including pancakes, crepes and, of course, eggs, Eggs ‘n Things stirs up a hunger for something tasty. Opened in 1974, the most-coveted restaurant now boasts three locations: two in Waikiki and one near Ala Moana Center on Piikoi Street. Both kamaaina and visitors alike choose Eggs ‘n Things as the solution for breakfast, lunch and dinner cravings. Yup, breakfast is not the only option here. When the clock strikes noon, the restaurant’s famous Paniolo Loco Moco ($12.95) is available for those chomping at the bit for island-style comfort food. Indeed, this Eggs ‘n Things original has all the components of a traditional loco moco — eggs, rice and beef patty but it’s smothered in homemade, creamy country gravy and enhanced by slivers of onion, sauteed mushroom and morsels of bacon. Yum! As for the two fresh island eggs placed atop the mound of rice and Big Island beef patty, they can be prepared any style.

But wait, there’s more. Eggs ‘n Things also serves up a nom-worthy Hawaiian Loco Moco ($12.25) that’s more in line with the local classic that many are accustomed to. A hefty all-beef patty, two eggs and brown gravy over rice define “loco moco.” However, why stick with the ordinary? Eggs ‘n Things asked itself this before adding pieces of Portuguese sausage, sauteed mushrooms and onions into the equation. Well done, Eggs ‘n Things, well done. This loco moco lover couldn’t ask for anything more.

Eggs ‘n Things
451 Piikoi St.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best