Listen: The Local Farey Tale of Loco Moco

Episode Notes:

The Local Farey Tale of Loco Moco is told in 3 chapters (averaging 18 minutes each) layering together the voices of the following Tale-Tellers… Jason Chin (Frolic Hawaii), Arnold Hiura (Hawaii Japanese Center), Gregg Hoshida (Frolic Hawaii), Dean Shigeoka (White Guava Cafe), Lanai Tabura (Aloha Plate Food Tour), George Takahashi (Lincoln Wrecker) and Audrey Wilson (Hawaii Tribune-Herald)

Credits: Music by Anisha Thomas, Artwork by Jonathan Reich, Narrator, Concept, Production and Editing by Nora Vetter

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Find out more: Cafe 100 (Third-generation Owner/Operator, Mari Kobayashi Leung, offered the below video for further information about Cafe 100), Liliha Bakery (Connie Wong, Marketing and Social Media Lead at Yummy Restaurant Group kindly answered some questions via email about Liliha Bakery which you’ll find below the video), Aloha Plate Truck, Hawaii Plantation Museum, Hilo Tsunami 1960, Hannara Restaurant, L&L Hawaiian BBQ, Pine Tree Cafe, Tasty Crust

Q&A about Liliha Bakery

Describe what’s in a traditional Loco Moco

A traditional loco moco is normally made with white rice, topped with a hamburger, a fried egg, and brown gravy. At Liliha Bakery, we offer different variations where customers can actually order their loco moco with brown rice or fried rice and add on grilled mushrooms and onions. 

What is the origin story of Loco Moco as you know it?

The Loco Moco was actually created back in the late 1940s in Hilo where a group of hungry teenagers called the” Lincoln Wreckers”  were trying to buy some food at the Lincoln Grill (now closed).  The story goes that they didn’t have a lot of money to spend and they couldn’t afford a normal hamburger plate which cost $2-$3 at the time, so they came up with the idea to ask for a bowl of rice with a hamburger and gravy on it, and the owners gave it a try and charged them 30 cents for the dish. As for the name, they named it after one of the teenagers who was nicknamed crazy for doing crazy dares. One of them was studying Spanish and suggested using loco and they just used the word moco since it rhymed.

How old is Liliha Bakery? What is its origin story and where are the locations? Describe layout with counter and grill. (Is this only at the original location?)

Liliha Bakery just turned 71 last Friday (August 20). It originally started as a tiny retail outlet on Liliha Street by Roy and Koo Takakuwa. They began selling loaves of bread in 1950 and as their popularity grew they decided to move to Kuakini street, where you’ll still find the original location today. Since then, Liiliha Bakery has become an integral part of the community and now has 3 other locations: Nimitz Hwy, Macy’s Ala Moana, and the International Marketplace in Waikiki opening in the Holiday of 2021.  To pay homage to the original location, we have kept the counter and grill layout where guests can view what is happening in the kitchen. 

What are the other popular menu items the bakery is known for?

Our popular items from our bakery include coco puffs, poi mochi donuts, butter rolls, and our chantilly cake. When it comes to our coffee shop side, our most popular dishes are the Loco moco (of course), Country Style Omelet, and our Hot Cakes!  

If you know, was the Loco Moco always a part of the menu? If not, when was it added?

The item was added in 2008 when Liliha Bakery was acquired by Yummy Restaurant Group. 

What is it about the Liliha Bakery Loco Moco that makes it stand out from the other Loco Mocos out there? (Not expecting to have any secret ingredients given away but just in general.) Is fried rice version a unique offering compared to other places? Can people customize their eggs? What type of gravy is used?

We always use quality and fresh produce for all of our coffee shop dishes. For our Loco moco, we use great quality Angus chuck beef that is hand-pressed, always fresh, and never frozen. We also prepare them slightly differently instead of just grilling our patties. No two restaurants prepare their fried rice the same, so we would like to say ours is different from other places. Customers are able to choose how they’d like their eggs prepared and for our gravy, that’s something that we’d like to keep secret. 

In a non-pandemic time, how many Loco Mocos would be ordered/made on average during the breakfast rush? (Assuming breakfast is the most popular time they are ordered?) Is it THE most popular dish during breakfast? If not, what outranks it?

The Loco Moco is the most popular dish for breakfast and approximately we sell maybe 100  dishes a day at all of our locations (dine-in/takeout). 

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