Posted by: kauaikolea2 | January 8, 2012

Eating Like a Local — Loco Moco, Musubi, and Plate Lunch


Trying a new food is one of the best parts of travel, at least for the adventurous foodie with no dietary restrictions!  If you want to truly be Hawaiian for your stay, step away from those golden arches and eat like a local.

How about some musubi (pictured above)? Spam musubi is a popular snack and lunch food in Hawaii and consists of a slice of grilled Spam on a block of rice, wrapped together with nori, just like other sushi offerings.  If you are in a convenience store, look around the cash register as that is where you often will spot Spam musubi. Grabbing one for a quick portable lunch or snack will surely mark you as a local or at least a wanna-be local!  Refer to it as “grinds” (not “lunch”) and you will earn extra points.

Another local dish, loco moco, also can feature Spam or a hamburger patty or other portion of meat or fish.  Loco moco is not a menu item found in many upscale restaurants on island, but is popular in diners and road-side stands.  Loco moco is sometimes called a “plate lunch” and traditionally consists of a scoop of white rice, a slab of Spam or a hamburger, all smothered in brown gravy.  A fried egg on top supposedly distinguishes a loco moco from a plate lunch.  Don’t be surprised if your loco moco or plate lunch also sports a large scoop of macaroni salad!  Some pundits refer to loco moco as “heart attack on a plate”.

As with all local comfort foods anywhere, low price and large quantity, as well as speed in serving and eating, are most important.  Other local Hawaiian foods exist, for sure, like poi and tera ike (teriyake squid), but loco moco, musubi, and plate lunches are unique to Hawaii and if you are brave, you should try one.  Think of the stories you can tell back home!

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