Loco Moco from Awesome on 20

Loco Moco

Loco Moco from Awesome on 20

Honolulu is one of the most diverse cities in the world. We have a huge Asian population, mostly Japanese, plus constantly rotating military families. Throw in the Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and other Polynesians, along with us regular haoles (technically, I’m hapa, or part Hawaiian) and you’ve got yourself one serious melting pot of awesome.

Also awesome is the fact that Hawaiians love to eat. Growing up, I remember my Hawaiian grandmother’s house felt like one constant party. It seemed like there were always visitors playing music and cooking and enjoying plenty of food. Out here in the middle of the ocean, comfort food is taken to a whole new level. All those different influences combine for some unusual, but very tasty dishes.

Loco Moco from Awesome on 20

Today, at my daughter’s request, we’re sharing loco moco. She helped me make it, and gleefully wolfed down almost this entire portion by herself. This dish can be found at just about every local eatery on the island. It may not be sophisticated, but it’s for real. You’ve got to try it.

Loco moco is simple and delicious. It starts with a bed of white rice, topped with a juicy hamburger steak, a sunny side up egg, and enough gravy to drown the entire thing. Truthfully, I held back on the gravy a bit to make the photo a bit more pretty, but that’s not what loco moco is about.

Loco Moco from Awesome on 20

This is what the locals call ono grinds. It’s not fancy. You could try to make it healthy. You could try to make it snobby. But I think that if you mess with a good thing, screw with tradition, then maybe you’ve created something else all together. It might still be good, but is it still loco moco? 

Loco Moco from Awesome on 20

Loco moco should be dirty, greasy, down home, made with aloha, and probably eaten on styrofoam. Try to avoid the last bit if you can. It won’t be easy. Unless you make it at home, which you should. It’s dead easy and kind of amazing. It might even make you a better ukulele player. I haven’t tested that theory.

Loco Moco
Serves 4
A local Hawaiian favorite of rice, hamburger, egg, and gravy. Ono kine grindz!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the rice
  1. 2 cups white rice
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
For the hamburger steaks
  1. 1 pound ground beef
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  4. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  6. 2 tablespoons green onions, the white parts only, finely sliced (or scissored)
  7. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  8. 1 tablespoon oil
For the gravy
  1. fat from cooked burgers
  2. 1 to 2 tablespoons flour
  3. 1 to 1-1/2 cups beef stock
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
For the egg
  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 4 eggs
  3. Green onions, the green parts, thinly sliced (or scissored)
For the rice
  1. In a medium pan with a tight fitting lid, bring four cups of water to a boil, then add salt.
  2. Stir in rice, put the lid on, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to continue steaming for five minutes or until water is absorbed.
  4. Or just put it in the rice cooker if you are awesome enough to have one of those. I don't.
  5. When it's ready, divide the rice between four plates so it's ready to have juicy hamburger steaks placed on top.
For the hamburger steaks
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine beef, seasonings, soy sauce, onions, and egg. Work quickly with your hands and try not to handle it excessively.
  2. Form into four patties.
  3. Add oil to a large skillet and heat to medium high. Cook patties about 4 minutes a side or to desired doneness. Just make sure you get some good browning on the outside.
  4. Place a hamburger steak atop each mound of rice so that the juices will soak into the rice. Don't waste the flavor.
For the gravy
  1. First, remember that gravy making is as much an art as a science, so go with your gut and adjust as needed for your conditions. Everybody likes it a little different. Do what you love.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low on the remaining fat and delicious bits in your skillet. Sprinkle flour over the fat, just enough to absorb the fat and create a paste. Cook for a few minutes until the flour mixture turns brown.
  3. Add stock about a quarter cup at a time, stirring well to remove lumps. Also make sure you scrape up any bits off the bottom of the pan. They are full of flavor. Keep adding liquid until you get your favorite consistency and season to taste.
For the egg
  1. Add butter to a nonstick skillet and melt over medium low heat.
  2. Crack you eggs into the pan and season with salt and pepper if desired. Cook slowly until whites are just set.
  1. Rice goes on the bottom.
  2. Put your hamburger steak on top right out of the pan to catch all the juices.
  3. You can put the egg or gravy on next, it doesn't matter. Just don't skimp on the gravy. (Unless you're crazy and want to take your food's photo)
  4. Scatter green onions over the top.
  5. Dig in and live the aloha.
  1. This recipe serves four normal humans or two big Hawaiians. It's easily scalable for a small family or a big gathering.
Adapted from Big Island Grinds
Adapted from Big Island Grinds
Bluenami Burger at Islands

Burgerology: Island’s Fine Burgers

Welcome back to Burgerology: Today we’re checking out Island’sFine  Burgers in Ala Moana Center. 

Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks at Ala Moana Center, Honolulu

We often leave the house with the best of intentions, but we usually end up eating something we shouldn’t before we can make it back home. When Mai Tai bar is full, it’s just too tempting to walk twenty yards to Islands Burgers. Before you know it, what was supposed to be a quick drink after work turns into a huge burger and fries.

Bluenami Burger at Islands

This place is in a mall, so it’s not the hippest, but it’s located on the upper level, and they have an open air lanai. The bar across the “hall” has live music on the weekends, so you can get a table and still watch the band while you eat your dinner. The staff has always been quite friendly, and the food comes out on time; not exceptionally fast, but not slow either. Just baby bear. 

Mangorita at IslandsMangorita at Islands

They have a nice cocktail selection, and they’re pretty expensive, but not the most expensive I’ve seen. There’s a good choice of drinks for under $8. This time I had the mangorita. It was delicious, and huge. There was no need to order a second round. The sweet and slightly tart mango puree complimented the Suaza tequila perfectly. It’s one of the nicest margaritas I’ve ever had. And when our bill came, it was magically a dollar cheaper then what was listed in the menu. I don’t know why, and I didn’t ask. Just in case.

Bluenami Burger at IslandsBluenami Burger at Islands

I ordered the Bluenami burger, which had blue cheese dressing and crumbles. My burger was cooked precisely to my specifications and still nice and juicy. It was a bit skimpy on the blue cheese, and I thought the wheat bun was perhaps a bit too heavy. Maybe I’ll try a white bun next time. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t make me sing. I give it a B. I did love that I could order macaroni salad instead of French fries. For some strange reason, I absolutely love mac salad, and even though I wasn’t really hungry anymore, I couldn’t stop myself from eating it.

Kilauea Burger from Islands

Geoff ordered the Kilauea burger, which was loaded with black pepper. He reports that he thought the black pepper was perhaps overkill, as that’s all he could really taste. He really liked his fries, which had a hint of garlic and still had the skin on.

This is definitely a date night, visit occasionally sort of place. The burgers are in the $12-$15 range, and the drinks start at around $6 for beer and $8 for cocktails. If you get there after 3:00 try and get a seat in the bar area. It’s happy hour from 3:00 ’til close in that section, and you can get drinks and appetizers on special for around $5. This makes the restaurant much easier on the wallet.

Kilauea Burger from Islands

I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here again, but if it was convenient, and I was hungry, I’d definitely stop in. It’s good, but not great.

Makapu'u Tide Pools
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Loco Moco from Awesome on 20
Makapu'u Tide Pools

Makapu’u Tide Pools

Makapu'u Tide Pools

Living on a beautiful tropical island sometimes has its trade offs. Everything is so expensive. Living from paycheck to paycheck often leaves practically nothing leftover for entertainment. Especially when you love to eat as much as I do. 

The bright side is that this island is full of unbelievable natural beauty, most of which you can explore for free. Recently, we visited the tide pools at Makapu’u, and they took my breath away.

Makapu'u Trail

The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is on the windward side of Oahu near Sea Life Park. There’s an easy but steep trail that leads to a lighthouse with stunning, expansive ocean views. It’s a great spot for whale watching in the winter months. You can also veer off to the right, if the beach is more you style. On this day, however, we were headed for the tide pools.


About halfway up the trail there’s a sign about whale watching. This is where you leave the nice wide paved path and hike down the side of a lava rock cliff. It’s a bit challenging, especially if you’re out of shape like me. There are loose rocks and several places where you have to jump down to the next level. Proper footwear is a definite bonus. I wouldn’t recommend this trail for small children.

Blow hole near tide pools

Also be sure to check the surf report before going out. Large waves can rush over the rocks into the tide pools creating dangerous conditions. Even strong swimmers can get swept away. I’m not saying you have to be a scaredy baby, just respect the ocean. It’s a powerful force.

Once you make it down, you’ll see several pools with clear water and adorable colorful fish. You can wade right in with the fish, but remember, you’re in their home. If you have an underwater camera, this would be a fantastic time to use it. The fish will swim right past you.


The ocean was putting on a pretty great show for us when we were out there. The waves crashing against the rocks, and the sound of the ocean churning beneath the blow holes and in the lava tubes is powerful. Just be careful and don’t turn your back on it.


Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water. There’s no shade down there, and once you hike down, you have to get back up. There are chalk arrows on the rocks to guide you on the safest path. There are also no restrooms out here, so…. Well, just be prepared.


I love the opportunity to explore new and beautiful places so near my home. A sandwich, some water, and a camera are all you really need to enjoy an awesome day in the natural world.

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