Sunday Dinner Week #15: Loco Moco

The June-July issue of Food Network Magazine claims that the loco moco at Hukilau Cafe in La'ie, Oahu is the best burger in Hawai'i, and our representative for its feature 50 states, 50 burgers. The staff of the Hawaii Magazine have their own opinion of where to find the best loco moco, but no matter what everyone agrees that the loco moco was created in sleepy little Hilo town.

The story goes that the loco moco dish was created in 1949 by the Inouye family, who owned the Lincoln Grill in Hilo. A group of boys from the Lincoln Wreckers sports club contributed to its creation. Because the boys did not have a lot of spending money, they asked Nancy Inouye to put some rice in a saimin bowl, one hamburger patty on the rice and brown gravy over the hamburger and rice. She charged twenty-five cents for this, and it was much cheaper than ordering a hamburger steak entree. One of the boys, George Okimoto, was nicknamed "Crazy" because of the wild way he played football. Crazy in Spanish is loco so the boys named the dish loco moco just on a whim. Moco had no special meaning except it rhymed with loco. At first it was not on the regular menu but, because of its popularity with the Wreckers, it became a fixture at Lincoln Grill. The egg was added later.

Cafe 100 has the most varieties of loco moco including the Halloweenie loco, loco with spam, portugues sausage, smokies, kalua, etc. It's basically peasant fare, not for the weight conscious, and definitely not for those people that don't like their food touching each other. Loco moco is a one bowl, throw everything together meal buried in greasy brown gravy. That's what makes it so comforting, and so easy to make at home.

Our favorite under 1/2 an hour loco moco:
May's teriyaki patties grilled on the Foreman grill
Lots of white rice, or if we're lucky enough to have extras of Ken's fried rice, we use that
Brown gravy from powder
Eggs made to order

Local celebrity chef Alan Wong serves his own version of loco moco at the Pineapple room with a kiawe wood-grilled Maui Cattle Co. beef patty and two farm-fresh sunny-side-up eggs on a bed of fried rice. A rich veal jus blankets the dish.

I think Alan Wong's food is super sexy, but his version of loco moco is a bit too frou frou for us. Sometimes we gotta just stick with the basics. 


  1. IMHO, you can't glorify a loco moco even by substituting expensive ingredients. The final product is hillarious.


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