Big D’s Khao Cart Makes Crazy Good Loco Moco

Khao Cart

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).

loco grande

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).


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Can’t agree with your review. I have eaten here twice. First time I had the Shaking beef and the second the Loco Moco.

    First, the rice was horrible both times, maybe the worst rice I have ever eaten.

    The shaking beef itself was good, but a but dry.

    The Loco Moco on the other hand was gross, IMHO. The patty was way too finely ground and overly moist. It was more of a strangely spiced meatload. The coloring was a bit off as well. I ended up tossing it in the garbage after a couple of bites.

    I wont be going back.

    As a matter of fact, other than the dumplings and fried Yuca, I dont think their truck food is good either.

  • Agree with Joe’s assessment. Except the rice was okay and I didn’t mind the finely ground beef in the loco moco. You have to like that kinda thing. It reminded me of a corn beef hash (that you would find in a can or at a breakfast buffet). And you say it was “drenched” in gravy- mine was more like, sprinkled with gravy.

    I’ve also tried the chicken dish, and as Joe states about the shaking beef, was also dry. It was a few pieces of boneless/skinless thighs, and it almost seems like they were leftover from the previous day and heated up. The “dirty rice” that comes with it was good tho.

    And FYI, the Loco Grande was initially $10. I tweeted them afterwards that it was a bit steep (for what you were getting). Looks like they lowered it to $9 afterwards.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I had both the shaking beef and grande loco from the cart last week. I really enjoyed both, though the Loco Moco takes the cake for me. The fact that it’s grass fed and made from scratch is appealing to me, and I think the finely grounded texture is tender and goes well with the rice.

    I enjoy the truck as well though, esp the sandwiches (you get bang for your buck)…so maybe its a matter of preference.

  • Chris, this is a fine write up. I want to especially applaud these phrases the jumped out at me:

    “more perplexingly low brow yet delicious”
    “blue collar sort of dish, rich as hell” (not as lyrical, but the juxtaposition is wonderful)
    “competently cooked rice”
    “loosely packed and finely ground … nearly fluffy, yet bore an expert sear”
    “unmistakable whiffs of South East Asian spices”

    Absolutely love it. I want to eat it! but the comments worry me. I guess I’ll wait until more people weigh in (or they park closer to me).

  • The D2 truck seems to have this fairly regularly. I wouldn’t call it a hamburger. It’s more like a meat loaf. To me this dish was an egg covered meat loaf with gelatinous beef sauce. It tasted good and was filling, but it must be eaten hot or the beef sauce congeals.

  • Someone mentioned the rice and I forgot about it. The rice seemed imperfect to me. There were some harder grains in there.

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