05 July 2017

Traditional Island Brunch

Kona Cafe is renowned for its unique, yet fundamental breakfast entrees. Tonga Toast is the restaurant’s most popular dish, but the pancakes with macadamia nut butter are also a favorite for many guests. This past year, however, there was a shake-up on the menu, and while the aforementioned Tonga Toast and pancakes are staples that are firmly rooted to Kona Cafe’s menu, other favorite dishes were lost in the shuffle. During this change, however, a new item was brought in to the breakfast offerings, and I think it is safe to say it will be around the Polynesian eatery for a long, long time.

The Loco Moco has been around Hawaii since the late 1940s, and while the specific restaurant of origin is a matter of debate, the rationale for how it was concocted its completely plausible. As the story goes, teenagers who wanted a breakfast different to an American-type breakfast sandwich, but that took less preparation than Asian breakfast dishes, basically threw everything they had onto a stack on a plate and viola, Loco Moco.

So, what’s in Kona Cafe’s version of the meal? It starts with a bed of rice, with a grilled hamburger patty atop of the rice, it is covered with house-made chorizo gravy, two-eggs any style, and tomato salsa. Kona Cafe has made a couple of tweaks to the traditional form of the dish, with the tomato salsa and chorizo in the gravy are new additions, and the eggs are typically fried or sunny-side up. You’ll notice from the above photograph that there are home-fried potatoes as well. This is not the standard serving for Kona Cafe, but I’m not a fan of eggs, and this was suggested as a substitute. And it was a fantastic addition!

I’m well aware that the hamburger patty utilized for Kona Cafe’s Loco Moco is likely the same as the hamburger patties used all throughout Walt Disney World, but the flavors this one inherits from the grill, gravy, and rice makes it seem like a notch above the rest. Likewise, the sticky rice base soaks up a ton of flavor from the chorizo gravy. The gravy itself has a nice heat, but it isn’t overpowering. It builds throughout the meal and won’t have you in a full sweat, but you’ll definitely feel it in the back of your throat. The Loco Moco seems like a mess piled high, that shouldn’t dare taste as good as it is. The portion size isn’t huge, and I wiped my plate clean, but with all of the heavy elements, it will more than fill you up for a day of resort lounging or park touring.

The Tonga Toast has long been my go to meal at Kona Cafe for breakfast, but I’m not so sure that the Loco Moco has worked its way into my heart. It sounds weird, it sounds like it shouldn’t work, but one bite and you’ll know why it has been a tradition on Hawaii for the past 70 years. If you need your stuffed French toast, macadamia nut butter, or other breakfast offerings from Kona Cafe, I’ll completely understand; that just leave more Loco Moco for me!

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