I’m back from my first visit to Hawaii with, of course, a visit to Aulani, Disney’s outpost in the Aloha state. Since it was my first visit, I was particularly excited to explore Hawaii’s unique culture.
During our initial morning on site, we chose to have breakfast at Ama Ama, the more upscale of the resort’s table service restaurants.
The rest of the family chose to eat traditional American style food: pancakes, scrambled eggs, and French toast (can I call French toast American? :-)). But I chatted with the server, a native Hawaiian, and asked what the most traditional local dish was. She responded, “Loco Moco,” and told me that the Ama Ama version was excellent. So Loco Moco it was!
For those of you not in the know, a Loco Moco consists of rice, topped by a hamburger patty, topped by a fried egg, topped by a brown, usually onion or mushroom based, gravy.
Here’s the Ama Ama Loco Moco. (Try saying that five times fast.)
I loved the way the semi-cooked yolk and gravy oozed into the rice, giving it a nice creamy texture. If I had to compare the flavor to anything, I’d say it reminded me a lot of the Salisbury Steak meals I had as a child. This may raise caution flags to some folks, my husband among them, but I view this with great affection and nostaliga.
Side note: My father works in the food packaging industry and worked to develop various lines of TV dinner trays. We ate A LOT of Salisbury Steak in test trays when I was a kid.
With this amazing sense memory, I was hooked! And I was thrilled to find a slightly different version of the Loco Moco the next morning when we dined at Makahiki, Aulani’s character buffet table service restaurant.
The buffet version was smaller than the Ama Ama version, which makes sense given that people are usually in more of a grazing/sampling mode at a buffet.
I still enjoyed the smaller version, but in retrospect I wish that I had scooped up some more of the yummy gravy and added it to my plate.
As a matter of comparison I also ordered a Loco Moco several days later when our family left Oahu/Aulani and moved to Maui. We had breakfast at Plantation House, located at the swank Plantation golf resort.
Plantation offered three versions of Loco Moco: with a burger like I had had at Aulani, with country sausage substituted for the burger, or with a crab cake substituted for the burger. I opted for the classic.
As you can see, this Loco Moco looks quite similar to the Ama Ama version, but I have to say that the Ama Ama gravy was more flavorful, and the Ama Ama egg was cooked with the perfect amount of semi-doneness. Needless to say, I’m a fan.
Have you been to Aulani and had a Loco Moco? Would trying one be on your “to do” list? Let us know in the comments below.