The dudes from Animal get credit for crowning loco moco with foie gras and a quail egg, but long before Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo gentrified this humble dish, it was a staple of Hawaiian cuisine. A mountain of white rice covered with hamburger patties, grilled onions, eggs and lots of brown gravy, loco moco is a starchy, meaty, hearty mess. You need only drive through Torrance and the surrounding environs to find dozens of strip-mall purveyors of the dish, but before you head to Gardena Bowl or Bob's Hawaiian Style Restaurant, there's Aloha Cafe in Little Tokyo. The gravy is rich, smooth and a burnished dark brown that's never bland or overly salted. Where this loco moco really distinguishes itself is in the burger patty. It's coarser than average, ground in-house and specially seasoned for something more than a hamburger bun, perfect with a dash of the vinegary, mildly spicy Hawaii Hot Sauce, which rests on every table. 410 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo. (213) 346-9930,

—Elina Shatkin

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