Big D’s Khao Cart Makes Crazy Good Loco Moco
Of all of the notable culinary contributions that Hawaii has gifted the world, I would argue that none is more perplexingly low brow yet delicious than loco moco. Like many dishes from the Hawaiian culinary repertoire this garbage plate marries elements of east and west – a hamburger patty over white rice, drenched with brown gravy and gilded with a fried egg over easy. It’s a blue collar sort of dish, rich as hell, and in the right hands, a thing of beauty.
Enter Big D’s Khao cart which launched a few months back (typically located at 50th and 6th). Instead of Korean inspired tacos and grinders, the Khao cart has tightly focused on rice bowls (khao translates to ‘rice’ in Thai and Lao) accented with Vietnamese and Thai flavors. But there’s also a very successful riff on loco moco on the menu, called the Loco Grande ($9).
Khao’s version more-or-less stays faithful to the original version, although interpretations are by nature allowed to be fast and loose, this dish being a front runner of Asian fusion dishes conceived in the states. There was competently cooked rice as well as an obligatory fried runny egg. The lot was drenched in rich brown gravy that was highlighted by plenty of onions and a smattering of chopped basil.
However, the standout was an outstanding and hefty hamburger patty (it’s there, just hidden by the egg). The patty was loosely packed and finely ground so that it was nearly fluffy, yet bore an expert sear on the exterior. It was commendably meaty and flavorful, and there were unmistakable whiffs of South East Asian spices present – perhaps a touch of lemon grass and ginger.
I’m sure that we’re not alone in our yearning for Hawaiian food in Midtown (or all of Manhattan for that matter). As such, it’s reassuring to know that there’s a trusted option close at hand at Big D’s Khao Cart.
Follow Big D’s on twitter for daily locations (today they’re on 50th btw. 6+7th).