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Earlier this year, I went to Hawaii for the first time.  I had been wanting to go there for a while now, well really since moving to L.A. And I finally did it!  I decided to go to the the Big Island since it seemed the most diverse and offered a little bit of everything.  It definitely lived up to what I had imagined with beautiful beaches, turquoise-colored ocean, green mountains, lava fields and a volcano….absolutely beautiful.

Obligatory beautiful Hawaiian beach photo (taken at Makalawena Beach on the Big Island)

When I travel I always like to do things that can only be done in the place I’m visiting and in particular eat something local that I can’t get anywhere else.  So after having many cups of Kona coffee in Kailua-Kona, it was time to try another local favorite, the “loco moco” (which means crazy mucus or snot in Spanish). This dish is said to have first been made in Hilo and consists of a plate of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and then smothered in brown gravy. Since I love to try odd food combinations and was in Hawaii, I had to have some.

I didn’t have any during my very brief visit to Hilo (well I actually just drove through Hilo and never stopped) at either of the places that claim to have invented it, but I did get to try it at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai in Kona. At Sam Choy’s you have the option of ordering the loco moco the traditional way with a hamburger patty, or you can order it with pork, fish, or meatless.

In pondering which combination I should have, I glanced at the menu and saw that they served Spam at the restaurant.  Spam (a canned pre-cooked lunch meat for those of you who are not familiar with it) is very big in Hawaii.  They sell Spam at McDonalds.  They make a sushi roll with it there.  Very popular.

Since I wanted a complete Hawaiian experience, I needed to have Spam before leaving the island. Having heard that at other restaurants you could get the loco moco with Spam, that’s what I decided) to have (and the kind folks at Sam Choy’s were happy to make it for me). I also had the option to have fried rice in the loco moce rather than white rice, which I did because Sam Choy is known for his fried rice.

loco moco with Spam

When they first brought it to me, I could not believe how large the portion was.  But that did not deter me and I dug right in.  It was delicious!  And I really liked it with Spam (I tried my friend’s dish with the fish and liked mine better, though the fish is a tasty and lighter choice).  I can’t even remember when I last had Spam (elementary school?) but it tasted pretty good and smothered in gravy with fried rice and the gooey yolk of the eggs made it taste even better.

Though upon first hearing of this dish some might think combining all these different foods may not be tasty, well let me just tell you it did not disappoint.  My only regret was that I couldn’t try all the varieties, but I guess that gives me one more reason to go back to Hawaii.

and in case you needed more pictures of a beautiful Hawaiian beach, here’s another, this time with a turtle (at Mahai’ula Beach, Big Island)

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