Loco moco is a popular Hawaiian dish featuring white rice topped with a hamburger, a fried egg, and brown gravy. Often there’s also a side dish of macaroni salad. I had a hankering for a good one and explored a couple of places.
The first one is from the Rainbow Drive-in, a famous family-owned establishment featuring plate lunches. Catering to the working person and the Waikiki beach crowed, my wife and I visited the original in Kapahulu.
The $10 Loco moco plate was tasty but not earth-shattering. You get to choose the style of egg, and I went with scrambled. I’m thinking that over easy might have worked better.
Several days later, looking to take another crack at the dish, we got a recommendation for a distinctly different place. Hamada General Store is located on Queen Street in Kaka’ako. While influenced by the H. Hamada grocery store, the newly opened version is distinctly upscale in its food. Though still served in a modest general store setting.
Their Loco moco was double the price. Which is on the upper-scale for the typically working-class dish. The Hamada version features red wine braised beef instead of hamburger. Certainly more sophisticated and with more umami, I found it superior to Rainbow. However, I wasn’t sure if it was worth double the price. Also, the store had no on-premise dining. We had to find seating at a nearby mall.
While I’m no Loco moco expert, this fancy version didn’t seem in keeping with the dish. I’ll need to explore more versions on a future visit.
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