Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hawaiian Breakfast at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

Of all the places you think you'd find a restaurant where you can order a Hawaiian breakfast, I bet that a bowling alley wouldn't even cross your mind. Yet, there truly is such a place because inside the walls of Gardena Bowl is the Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop, where the menu consists of regular American fare right next to both Japanese and Hawaiian specialties.

For this particular trek to the city of Gardena, enjoying a Hawaiian breakfast was the goal and it was a goal my dining partners met with gusto. Between the 8 of us, the two dishes ordered the most were the Loco Moco and the Hawaiian Royal, although a couple did go their own way.

The Loco Moco is a dish that is unique to Hawaiian Cuisine. Although there are many variations of it, the essential ingredients include white rice, a hamburger patty, a fried egg with brown gravy. History has stated that the Loco Moco was created by the Inouye family, owners of the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii in 1949. Apparently, a group of boys from the Lincoln Wreckers Sports Club were the inspiration for this dish. Looking for cheap eats, one of the boys, George Okimoto, nicknamed "Crazy" because of the wild way he played football, was nominated by the others to ask Nancy Inouye if she'd put some rice in a saimin bowl along with one hamburger patty with brown gravy poured over both items.

She charged a mere 25 cents, which was much more affordable than ordering a regular hamburger steak entree. Since the word "crazy" was loco in Spanish, this new dish was named "loco moco" in George's honor. Apparently, the word "moco" came into play simply because it rhymed. The boys didn't know at the time that moco meant "mucus" in Spanish. This off menu item soon made into Lincoln Grill's regular menu and became widely popular all over Hawaii. The egg was actually added later. My fellow diners who decided on the Loco Moco seemed quite content with their choice. I've had Loco Moco before, so I decided to pass on it in favor of the Hawaiian Royal.

I couldn't find much info on the Hawaiian Royal, so perhaps it just doesn't have as much of a colorful history as the Loco Moco. This particular dish has a plethora of ingredients that included Portuguese Sausage, Chasu, Green Onions and Eggs Over a Bed of Rice with Teriyaki Sauce. When it arrived, I already knew that I wasn't going to finish the whole meal, but I was going to do my best and take home the rest.

The Hawaiian Royal was already quite a mish mash, but I went ahead and mixed it more so that the teriyaki sauce was mixed evenly throughout the dish. Than I took my first bite. That's when I wished that I had asked for that teriyaki sauce on the side. It was a little too sweet. However, it did come with a little bowl of hot mustard, so as I ate each spoonful, I'd top it with the mustard to counter the teriyaki sauce. It was a tasty dish, , but I felt a little overwhelmed by it. I think there was just too much to it. I longed for the simplicity of the Loco Moco.

As mentioned, the two dishes above were what people ordered the most. However, one person opted for the Bacon Fried Rice and an order of the Portuguese Sausage and wasn't that impressed by either dish.

Someone else went straight for lunch and ordered a Chicken Katsu with Veggie Tempura and seemed quite satisfied with their choice.

Foodwise, I only get up early for dim sum, so this was a different direction for me, but it's always interesting experiencing how different cultures view breakfast. As a Filipina, breakfast consisted of everything from fried fish and rice to fried Spam, eggs and rice mixed with banana ketchup. As you can see, Philippines shares the same rice sensibility with Hawaii. Overall, it was a fun outing, but the next time I go for a Hawaiian breakfast, I'll stick with the Loco Moco or try something different other than the Hawaiian Royal dish.

To see pics, go to:

Gardena Bowl
15707 S. Vermont Avenue
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 324-1244


EatTravelEat said...

Wow, a great breakfast in a bowling alley? I'm up for it. The Loco Moco looks very delicious and the Hawaiian Royal is certainly very interesting. Many great flavors going around :).

LynetteT said...

We used to eat here all the time when we lived in Gardena! What great foodie memories. My husband always ordered the Loco Moco.

That's one thing I miss about that area, all the good eating!

pleasurepalate said...

ETE: I love quirky dining spots, especially when the food is also good.

Lynette: Gardena definitely has a lot of great Hawaiian and Japanese restaurants, which I'm slowly discovering one by one.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Abby,

Nice history about Loco Moco, I had no idea (it's a great story). :)

Sorry to hear Gardena Bowl wasn't that good - I've heard some people happily recommend it for Hawaiian - but it's good to know your thoughts on it.

pleasurepalate said...

EK: I'd still go back to Gardena Bowl, but this time I'd probably order the Loco Moco and not the Hawaiian Royale, which was just too much of a hodgepodge for me. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm from Hawai'i. I've never heard of the Hawaiian Royal dish, though, and I've always thought of loco mocos more as a lunch food or something for a big snack. For a big breakfast, a plate of Portuguese sausage, eggs, and rice is more my speed. Better yet, a nice, sweet, Hawaiian papaya. Why are those Hawai'i papayas so good?

pleasurepalate said...

Anon:I would take a whole bowl of sliced Hawaiian papaya over a plate of Loco Moco anytime. :)

L. Niki Kalua Manuel-Arrighi said...

There is no such dish named Hawaiian (why must they misuse the name so much. Ugh!) Royal here in Hawaii.

I am a native Hawaiian/Portuguese and grew up in a rather traditional Hawaiian/Local household. Foods like pizza, tacos, etc. were usually experienced when we went out to dine at a restaurant or drive-in. Although that didn't happen too often, it happened enough for me to know that no where in my lifetime, both while growing up on the big island or later living on Oahu, did that dish ever cross our table. I am half a century old.

This dish, the Hawaiian royal, must have been a family recipe or something as I could not imagine any hotel, motel, inn or restaurant would serve up such a dish to local patrons let alone visitors from other destinations. LOL Why I say this you might ask? Simply put, the mix of Char Siu with Portuguess sausage and eggs just wouldn't happen. No way. THEN to add teriyaki sauce to it. makes it even more undesirable to the local palate, let alone passing it off as a "Hawaiian" delicacy. Patoooie! Never happens. LOL

Anyway, just wanted to share my 2 cents on the subject. Enjoyed the story of the loco moco as I am from the big island and have heard that story too. Anyway, sorry so winded and great blog by the way! :-)

Charenn29 said...

food really looks good. mouthwatering! nice post.