While I’m not one to seek the dish out often, every now and then I get “da’ ono’s” (craving) for a good ‘ole rib-stickin’ Loco Moco. For those of you still not familiar with this Hawaii old school lunch house favorite, a Loco Moco is basically a grilled hamburger patty over a bed of white steamed rice, smothered with brown gravy, then topped with an egg or two. Or three. Some versions also typically have sauteed onions as the finishing touch. Or in various other builds, such as everything plated in reverse. Or with other styles altogether, such as Maui Brewing Company’s Kauai Bison Burger and Mushroom Big Swell IPA Beer Gravy Loco Moco. Or Signature Prime Steak’s Lobster Gravy Loco Moco. It goes on and on.
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to the dish, and the best one that still sticks in my collective memory goes way back in my early 20s when I used to live down near Kaa’awa in Kualoa Ranch beach house. I’d always get (as in almost daily) the Loco Moco bowl from this place called Country Kitchen, located next to the Kaa’wa Post Office and the Kaa’awa 7-Eleven, which is now a barbecue joint. I swear that was the best Loco Moco ever, having this perfectly char-grilled patty, deep, charred-beef flavored brown gravy and big honkin’ sunny side up egg on top. Of course it also helped I worked in the ocean at the time, so my hunger factor played a huge part in liking that particular Loco Moco bowl so much. It just hit all the right notes my starved sun-‘n-surf beat body craved.
Fast-forward to 2017, and after all those years (make that decades) since finding a Loco Moco that could match the one from Kaa’awa’s Country Kitchen, I’ve finally found one! And guess where it’s from? Liliha Bakery! The newer one on Nimitz to be exact, from their dine-in restaurant. Which confounds the notion that you’d think I’d say it was from some hole-in-the-wall plate lunch joint, like say “Tutu Aunties’ Ono Ono Shack” tucked away behind some warehouse in industrial Kalihi. Nope. Liliha Bakery my friends.
So the one pictured above is not that one. I just used that photo for the splash image because it looked better, yet we’ll get to that version shortly. Here’s the Loco Moco from Liliha Bakery…
Oh yeah baby. Bom-chic-a-wow-wow! Here’s another one….
Normally I’d order my eggs sunny side up, however I went over-easy this time for a little more “bite”, yet the yolk inside was still runny enough to mix with the rice and brown gravy. You know da’ rules, cuz!
No, but yeah (<–ha ha!), dude, Liliha Bakery’s Loco Moco is totally in it to win it in my book. It tastes EXACTLY how I remember the bowl version at Country Kitchen. Deep, rich, stick-to-your-ribs charred beef flavored brown gravy smothering two equally tasty, juicy all-beef char-grilled hamburger patties, topped with two fresh ‘n tasty local eggs. This for just $10. I’m telling you, Liliha Bakery Loco Moco for the win!
Now that we settled that, feast your eyes and opu on the Prime Rib Loco Moco above, from YOGURSTORY, an eclectic breakfast-centric restaurant off Keeaumoku Street, behind Sorabol. Yes, Prime Rib Loco Moco!
It’s like one of those “dang, I always thought of doing that and they did it!” conniptions of sorts.
And YOGURSTORY ain’t foolin’ around when they say Prime Rib, as there’s a generous, thick-cut 8 oz. slab of medium-rare Prime Rib, finished on the grill for extra charred flavor.
And? First of all, the brown gravy has very similar FANTASTIC attributes as how I described the one from Liliha Bakery. The two sunny side up eggs weren’t as good as the fresh local eggs from Liliha Bakery, yet they worked. The Prime Rib could have used more seasoning when they roasted it though, as I thought it lacked that. Otherwise, it was juicy, tender, with nice charred edges, and done perfectly medium rare. Thankfully there was a nice strip of fat cap on this cut, so that helped boost the flavor factor.
Do I think Prime Rib works as being incorporated into a Loco Moco? Yes and no. I mean, it works if you’re really hungry, of course. However if you’re a purist like myself, I’d rather have my Prime Rib by itself and seasoned properly, served the classic way with Au Jus and horseradish. Here, the brown gravy and egg (especially the yolk) kind of rob the Prime Rib of its own glory. It’s the same reason I don’t like bacon on my burgers. It changes the flavor of the beef patty, thus missing the point.
That said, I’d definitely recommend you at least try the Prime Rib Loco Moco at YOGURSTORY, as other than the cons mentioned, I still really enjoyed it, giving it 4 SPAM Musubi.
Liliha Bakery’s Loco Moco done the classic way and the totally right way, gets 10 SPAM Musubi!
P.S. More Loco Moco kine’ grindz….
Maui Brewing Company Waikiki “Loco Moco for Days”: Bison Burger, Big Swell IPA Beer & Mushroom Gravy, local egg (OK Poultry), Aloha Rice (Japanese rice locally milled), served on the side with wok-fried kale and Hamakua Farms Mushrooms