VIDEO: Take a Bite: ‘Loco Moco Smackdown!’
Video by Nadine Kam / firstname.lastname@example.org
By Nadine Kam
The search for the best gourmet loco moco in Waikiki is on, and what better way to start the competition than with a “Loco Moco Smackdown?”
Said event took place at Cheeseburger Restaurant, Waikiki Beach Walk last Saturday, and eaters who summoned their appetites for the task were Steve Uyehara of Hawaii News Now, Star-Advertiser blogger Catherine Toth, Billy V of Hawaiian 105 KINE, Miss Hawaii 2009 Raeceen Woolford, and photographer/DJ Charles Criscola.
Placed in front of them was Cheeseburger’s version of the local staple. Usually, plain white rice, a burger patty, fried egg and brown gravy will suffice, but this entree starts with a base of black truffle white rice with garlic, a half-pound Kobe beef patty cooked medium rare and a fried egg over easy, slathered with red wine/black pepper gravy. The cost is $20.99.
I went expecting a loco mocos-only fest, but Cheeseburger Restaurant brought out all kinds of grinds for tempting the contestants, including smoothies, ribs and mini kalua pork sandwiches. Of course they were all there to win and tried to refrain, allowing the crowd to take up the slack in eating.
Pretty soon, they were suited up in white robes and blindfolds, and they were off!
Before the event started, I asked Toth her strategy. I didn’t peg her for a competitive eater, and she said she was expecting Uyehara to win so she wasn’t going to try that hard. All the while, she had a “secret strategy.”
Well, that became clear when at the start of the competition her blindfold came off and she started scooping her loco moco up and putting it on Uyehara’s plate!
How she got away with it? As she relates in the video, “No one said we had to eat it. We just had to be done. I’m done!”
Considering Uyehara had the equivalent of one loco moco left on his plate, he probably did eat the whole thing. Now, we’ll never know for sure. Does that mean there’s a rematch in the future?
To make it up to him, Toth passed on her loot for participation, which I believe was a T-shirt and gift certificate.
Meanwhile, Billy V, who described the loco moco as a “sloping Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa,” dug in with his hands, scooping it up as if it were poi, while next to him, Woolford took dainty bites … which continued past the two-minute finish time.
In the end, Criscola was declared the winner, finishing almost everything on his plate, and true to his pre-competition warning: “Never underestimate the skinny guy.”
Of course I had to try the loco moco after watching the chow fest, and the restaurant was passing mini versions around. It was ono, but I also kept hearing raves about Ocean House’s version, made with filet mignon, so I have to reserve judgment for now.
In addition to Cheeseburger and Ocean House, four other restaurants are in the running: Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber, Giovanni Pastrami, Keoni’s by Keo and Hula Grill Waikiki.
This is where the public comes in. Through July 20, people can try the loco mocos from the participating restaurants — at your own expense I’m afraid — then vote on their favorite via Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #WBWloco and naming your favorite for a chance to win gift certificates from the participating resstaurants.