My husband and I went to Hawai’i for two weeks to celebrate our first anniversary. We had considered going to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but then we decided to go to Europe instead. We stayed at a beachfront hotel with a clear view of Waikiki from our suite. Every day consisted of a different adventure from parasailing to snorkeling to long hikes to Diamond Head and Minoa Falls. It was also a cultural experience for us, and we enjoyed taking in the Polynesian music and dance. I remember the fruits and vegetables were extremely fresh at every restaurant we visited for lunch. We rented a car to drive during our entire trip, so it was convenient to eat our way around the perimeter of the entire island and to explore these winding paths that seemed ended among a sea of fresh vegetation and pineapple farms.
Every day we drove somewhere new to take in new sights and enjoy the frequent weather changes. But at the end of every day, regardless of how far we wondered, we always trekked back to enjoy dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It’s an American chain restaurant with famous cheesecakes that are to die for. Their menu is spectacular, not too pricey, and reflects the culture of the city in which it is located. In fact, every time we vacationed at an American city, we would check to see if there was a Cheesecake Factory so that we can dine there almost every night of our stay! I have to admit that it is easily our favorite chain restaurant, and we don’t usually like chain restaurants.
The Cheesecake Factory that we found in Honolulu served a Hawaiian Loco Moco that my husband just adored. Loco moco is a native Hawaiian dish that consists essentially of white rice topped with hamburger meat, a fried egg, and brown gravy. So essentially it is the Hawaiian version of the Japanese rice bowl dishes. How it got the name is a mystery. Some believe that the word ‘loco’ was inspired by the Spanish word for ‘crazy’ while others believe that it might have been a word meaning ‘local’. And the word ‘moco’ was added simply because it sounded like loco and hence rolls off your tongue.
We tried many versions of loco moco around the island and noticed that there were variations that include chili, mahi-mahi, sausages, and Spam of course (since we are in Hawai’i after all!). Returning home, I wanted to recreate the loco moco that we had at The Cheesecake Factory since it was our first experience and the one that embedded into our memories whenever we think of loco moco. I can’t guarantee that this is exactly their recipe since I didn’t make my way into their kitchen to talk to their loco moco chef, but it was tender and delicious nonetheless! The panko bread crumbs gave it a more desirable texture, and using the best gravy also makes a difference. It was like Hawai’i at home! E ʻai kāua!
600 g ground beef, about 70% lean
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp garlic salt
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup cooked rice
4 eggs, cooked, poached or fried
1 cup Brown gravy
Mix the first 8 ingredients (beef through panko) together and form into 4 patties.
Grill or broil patties to desired doneness, about 5 minutes on each side.
Divide rice between 4 plates and top each with a patty, 1 egg, and gravy.
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