City Gay and Country Gay

Sunday, January 20, 2008

You must be crazy: Spam Musubi and Loco Moco

So sorry for my absence! I've had a hard time getting back on the food bloggin' wagon.

As you know, I was away for a week and a half in tropical paradise, Kauai, Hawaii.

If you've never been to Hawaii before, you might be surprised to know that, in general, the cuisine is pretty... how shall I say... low brow.

That's not to say the food isn't good or that you can't get a fancy meal. It's just that the people of Hawaii tend to enjoy simple comfort foods and fried meats over more creative cuisine.

Two perfect examples that spring to mind are Spam Musubi and Loco Moco.

I had no idea how Spam came to be such a staple of Hawaiian cuisine, so I had to look it up. I mean, even Burger King offers Spam-related breakfast items.

According to Wikipedia:

The Hormel company's canned meat product Spam has been highly popular in Hawaii for decades. Hawaiians are the second largest consumers of Spam in the world, right behind Guam. Originally brought to Hawaii by American servicemen in their rations, Spam became an important source of protein for locals after fishing around the Islands was prohibited during World War II.

Spam Musubi

Image from Seattle Weekly

Spam Musubi is sort of like sushi with Spam instead of fish (except sushi uses vinegared rice and musubi uses salted rice). I didn't actually eat any this trip because I made the mistake of trying it three years ago at the urging of a friend and colleague of mine. I'll never forgive her.

I'm not even one of those anti-Spam people who turns their nose up at the mere mention of the canned meat. There's just something about the combination of a hunk of rice with a hunk of Spam wrapped with seaweed that displeases my taste buds.

Loco Moco

Loco Moco is a much more complicated beast and one that I actually understand. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of my Loco Moco experience, so I went Googling for some visual examples of the dish.

I found this beautiful example:

Photo from James Rubio's photostream on Flickr

But the Loco Moco I ate at a funny little place in Lihue called "No. 1 Chinese and BBQ Restaurant" looked more like this:

Photo from mmm-yoso

So, Loco Moco consists of a big hunk of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, topped with a sunnyside-up egg and then slathered with brown gravy. A big pile of cholesterol, essentially.

And it's kind of delicious. I mean, it's not going to blow your mind with its flavor profile, but it is a quintessential kind of comfort food. At it's core, the real power of this dish is the rice that soaks up the gravy and the runny egg yoke. I wouldn't even need the hamburger. Some restaurants serve Loco Moco with the options of fish, chicken or Kalua pork instead of the hamburger.

Another oddity of Hawaii is that most platters of Hawaiian food are accompanied by a scoop of macaroni salad. Why? I have no idea.

The good news is, I've discovered a Hawaiian restaurant here in Seattle at the Uwajimaya market and they serve Loco Moco should I ever get the craving. I've already been there for a platter of Kalua Pork with cabbage and rice.

Craving some fine dining?

If you find yourself in Kauai and none of the comfort foods appeal to you, I strongly suggest you get yourself to Roy's in the Poipu Shopping Village.

Sure, it's located in a shopping village, but the couple of times I've eaten there, I've enjoyed the most perfectly cooked meats I think I've ever had (osso buco the first time, duck breast the second). Their saucier knows what the hell s/he is doing and the menu is incredibly diverse and creative. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

That's all for now... Aloha, bitches.

- City Gay


slambo said...

I feel gross that the loco moco looks appetizing right now.

Girl With Blog said...

ok at first glance, loco moco looked like rice, a giant portabello, a slice of cheese, an egg and gobs of butterscotch sauce. yuck!

Anonymous said...

You can also get a mighty fine loco moco, and all sorts of other Hawaiian comfort food at Kona Kitchen.