Animal Restaurant – Los Angeles (Loco Moco)

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After completing phase one of “Loco for Loco Moco: No Joke-o” (me at Bruddah’s Hawaiian Foods, and the Gastronomer at somewhere I’m not sure because she hasn’t blogged about it yet), it was time to try the luxe loco moco at Animal, a restaurant with the same name as my favorite Muppet, no less. It’s on Fairfax, right across from the ill-fated Largo, and unless you know what you’re looking for you might fly right past it since it’s unmarked, that’s how you know it’s hip.

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After asking if it was our first visit (it was), our server went through the menu describing dishes and pointing out her favorites. (The loco moco was notably not on that list. For a second time, I wondered what we were in for.)

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The foie gras loco moco ($35) came with stubby Carolina Gold rice, Niman Ranch hamburger, Spam and a big slab of seared foie gras (that’s mostly what you see in that photo) topped with a fried quail egg. The gravy element of the moco was substituted with teriyaki sauce and dots of Sriracha, which made it less comfort food-y. The foie was great, but it definitely took center stage in the dish and it made it a little hard to discern all the flavors in each forkful. It was pretty ridiculous!

If you want to hear about the rest of the meal, there are more photos…after the jump!

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Bruddah’s Hawaiian Foods – Gardena, CA

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Inspired by the luxe loco moco dreamed up by Animal, the Gastronomer and I decided to do a taste comparison that I’m officially dubbing “Loco for Loco Moco: No Joke-O.” For part one, we would sample the original version: rice, hamburger/spam and eggs over easy, covered in gravy.

Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts in our busy and fabulous lives, we had to do our base tastings at separate places. A cursory search for loco moco in Los Angeles, had brought up a two-year-old Chowhound thread where the consensus was that Bruddah’s serves up the best in LA.

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Bruddah’s is found in an unassuming location on Gardena Blvd., which had a very Main Street style feel that seems to have seen better days. Normally that would be quite a drive from the Valley, but I was on my way to San Diego so it was kind of on the way.

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I snapped this pic when the lunch rush was slowing down, but earlier the place was filled with locals.

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I ordered the loco moco with spam ($6.95) instead of hamburger, which was a dollar more. I have to admit, it was a little intimidating to be confronted with this big brown blob. I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.

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I seemed to have had a better introductory experience to loco moco than the Gastronomer, though. We compared notes the next day and I believe her exact words were: “Did you vom?”

On the contrary, I consumed nearly all of my heaping Hawaiian heart attack on a plate. It was the fried Spam that took it to a supremely salty level that I liked. (Tasted much better than the Spam I remembered eating from our elementary school earthquake kits. SoCal kids, you know what I’m talking about.) The gooey egg yolk and mushy overall texture made it great comfort food.

Bruddah’s Hawaiian Foods

1033 W. Gardena Blvd.

Gardena, CA 90247

310-323-9112

P.S. Wikipedia tells a charming, questionably authentic origin story of the dish, that it was created by some local boys at the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii.

“One of the boys, George Okimoto was nicknamed ‘Crazy’ because of the wild way he played football. Crazy in Spanish is loco so the boys named the dish loco moco just on a whim. Moco had no special meaning except it rhymed with loco, however unknown to them it happens to be Spanish for ‘mucus’.”

Um, ew?

VOM.

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