Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Moco Monday surprises await at Highway Inn

Nadine Kam photos
The Highway Inn Hawaiian loco moco is a high-rise plate lunch, the rice topped with full size laulau, egg and lomi salmon, surrounded by a pool of beef stew.


There was a time when the smoked meat Smokin’ Moco was the be-all-end-all of loco mocos at Highway Inn. Well, now that the restaurant has launched weekly Moco Mondays at Kaka’ako, chef Mike Kealoha has a lot of work trying to top himself each week in testing the possibilities for transforming the beloved island combo of rice, hamburger patty and gravy topped with eggs over easy.

The basic hamburger patty loco moco ($11.25 regular or $7.85 mini), and the Smokin’ Moco ($12.50, or $8.75 mini) have been staples for years, but man cannot live on the same loco moco day in and day out, so Moco Monday was born, and you never know what you’ll get from week to week. To stay up to date, follow the restaurant’s Facebook page.
An ahi tartare and avocado sushi-style loco moco was recently introduced during Highway Inn's Moco Monday.

An ahi tartare and avocado sushi-style loco moco was recently introduced during Highway Inn’s Moco Monday.

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Recent experiments included a truffled ahi tartar sushi-style moco ($16.25); “I Wanna Wana Moco” ($17.95), topped with sea urchin and thin strips of nori to mimic the wana’s spines; and “Highway Inn Hawaiian Plate” loco moco ($15.95) that I hop will find a permanent spot on the menu. It has all the weightiness of a Hawaiian plate, the rice surrounded with beef stew, topped with a full size pork laulau and over-easy egg garnished with lomi salmon. The presentation may be different, but it all adds up to happiness in your opu.

While in Kakaako, you’re welcome to check out the lau lau-making process that takes place 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. See the video below.

Highway Inn Kakaako is at 680 Ala Moana Blvd. Call 954-4955.

Also, if you’re in Kalihi, check out the new Bishop Museum Cafe by Highway Inn, open to museum visitors and the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The museum is at 1525 Bernice St. You can check out the menu ahead of time at myhighwayinn.com.

The Highway Inn Smokin’ Moco with a centerpiece of lychee-wood smoked meat.
The "I Wanna Wana" moco, with nori strips to mimic the sea urchin's spines.

I put a Moco Monday visit with Real Jobs’ Steve Yeti on Periscope, which had visitors tuning in from all over the world, and one commenting, “Hawaii is so random.” Yes, we can be very different from the rest of the nation but I think that’s a good thing. All’s I can say is yetis have to eat too. And they like loco mocos!

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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