Our Top 5: Loco moco riffs

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By Kelli Shiroma

There’s nothing more comforting than a mound of hot rice topped with a succulent beef patty slathered in thick, savory gravy and over-easy eggs with yolks oozing all over.

That is, until you discover the delicious world of riffs on the traditional loco moco. There’s way more to life than all-beef patties. Whether it’s a pork adobo moco or a bacon-and-cheese-stuffed moco, Our Top 5: Loco moco riffs will make you think twice before your next order of loco moco.

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No. 5: Café Kaila, Meatloaf loco moco, $15.95

Café Kaila posts its weekend specials on Instagram, which is how I discover the meatloaf loco moco. This extraordinary concoction comes with Kaila’s famous homemade meatloaf, two pieces of toast and two eggs.

My first thought is probably the same as yours: “Where’s the gravy at?” While this integral component is missing, all doubts fade as soon as I dig in. The meatloaf itself, tender and flavorful, more than holds its own. The over-easy eggs and their glorious yolks round out the flavor, but let’s face it — the meatloaf is the star of the show.

Tip: Call in your order for takeout. It’s worth it to skip the line and enjoy this moco in the comfort of your own home so you can slip into the food coma that’s sure to follow.

Café Kaila • Market City Shopping Center • 2919 Kapiolani Blvd. • Kapahulu • 732-3330

 

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No. 4: Scratch Kitchen and Bake Shop, Pork adobo loco moco, $14

I’d had pork adobo, but never Scratch’s loco moco version. Elegantly plated, it comes with garlic rice, pickled red onions, a sous vide egg, avocado crema and a garnish of wonton chips.

The patty is made with fresh shredded pork that melts in your mouth, a welcome alternative to a dense ground-beef patty. It pairs perfectly with the lightly seasoned garlic rice and egg, hidden under toppings with all different textures and flavors.

The crispy wontons are my favorite thing. They add a delectable crunch to every bite, and Scratch doesn’t skimp on them.

This moco is on a seasonal menu, so go get it, like, right now.

Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop • 1030 Smith St. • Chinatown • 536-1669

 

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No. 3: Kahai Street Kitchen, Stuffed Juicy Lucy Loco Moco, $9.50

I stumbled upon this daily special at Kahai Street Kitchen by accident. Across the street from famed Ethel’s Grill, this unpretentious plate lunch spot has been known to get a little haute. The Stuffed Juicy Lucy Loco Moco features a housemade hamburger patty stuffed generously with crispy bacon and jack and cheddar cheeses. It’s pan-fried with two over-easy eggs atop a bed of rice and drenched with house gravy. You also get your choice of potato mac or tossed salad.

The stuffed patty is tender and easy to cut into. The bacon isn’t all that crispy but there’s plenty of it, a plus for bacon fiends. The oozy cheese blends with the egg yolk, which seeps into every crevice. The thicker gravy is liberally poured and kicked up with caramelized onions. And that creamy mac salad — with big potato chunks — is perfect for sopping up leftover gravy.

Kahai Street Kitchen • 237 Kalihi St. • Kalihi • 845-0320

 

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No. 2: Moena Café, Short rib loco moco, $15.50

I heard so much about Moena’s short rib loco moco that I had to see if it lived up to its reputation. It wasn’t easy, since I had to pass on the sweet pancakes that are my breakfast go-to for this dish of braised short rib, rice, gravy and an over-easy egg.

Short ribs have a tendency to be tough; these are succulent. Talk about melt-in-your-mouth! They blend perfectly with a gravy that’s savory yet slightly sweet, resulting in a rich and satisfying meal.

It’s worth passing on pancakes and driving all the way out to Koko Marina Shopping Center just for this. Next time, though, I’ll upgrade to the fried rice loco moco for just $2 more.

Moena Café • Koko Marina Shopping Center • 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy. • Hawaii Kai • 888-7716

 

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No. 1: Bogart’s Café, Loco moco, $14.60

Claustrophobically small on notoriously parking-challenged Monsarrat, Bogart’s isn’t the most convenient place to get to. But it’s well worth it.

The loco moco here features shredded ribeye steak in a rich port wine reduction, served over rice and topped with two eggs any style. I share it with a friend only to ensure that I don’t inhale the entire dish in one sitting.

The made-from-scratch mushroom gravy simply can’t be beat — it’s rich and slightly sweeter than most gravies. Shredding the ribeye makes for a seamless melding with rice and perfectly cooked eggs. The mushrooms add a memorable chewiness and oomph. I’m also a fan of the proportions — I don’t have a lot of rice leftover once the ribeye is gone.

Cash only, so come prepared. And be ready to scrounge for parking. Your efforts will be rewarded.

Bogart’s Café • 3045 Monsarrat Ave. • Diamond Head • 739-0999

Hungry for more? You’ll find all Our Top 5s right here.