Taka’s Box Lunch May Have the Best Loco Moco in Hawai‘i

In Mapunapuna, find perfection in simplicity.


Taka's Box Lunch Pc Gregg Hoshida

Photo: Gregg Hoshida


As a dish, the loco moco seems simple enough. Rice, hamburger patty, brown gravy and a fried egg. For aficionados and purists, its simplicity means that every humble ingredient needs to be transcendent, every component well thought out. Such is the case with the loco moco at Taka’s Box Lunch. From the first grain of rice to the last drop of gravy, Taka’s is, in my opinion, a serious contender for best loco moco in the state.


Located in industrial Mapunapuna, Taka’s is a modest establishment slightly hidden between the larger businesses that surround it. It took me three passes to find it the first time I went, and, finding the few spaces in front full, I drove some more until I found street parking. The menu is straightforward: Breakfast boxes of eggs and assorted meats ($9), omelets ($10), hamburger sandwiches ($9) and mixed plates ($11.50) point to a restaurant that knows what workers in the surrounding area want.


Taka's Box Lunch Sign Pc Gregg Hoshida

Photo: Gregg Hoshida


What catches my eye is a handwritten sign: “This isn’t fast food, this is quality food made as fast as we can.” Customers, it says, should allow at least 20 minutes for their orders. Admittedly, waiting 20 minutes for a plate lunch seems pretty daunting at first, but you can always call in your order in advance.


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The $13.50 plate contains a bed of white rice nearly invisible under two (!) four-ounce hamburger patties. A blanket of deep brown gravy covers the rice and patties and is topped with two sunny-side eggs with a tiny bit of crispy edge. And because this is Hawai‘i, there’s yet another scoop of white rice accompanied by a scoop of spaghetti “mac” salad.


Taka's Box Lunch Loco Moco Pc Gregg Hoshida

Photo: Gregg Hoshida


I’ve eaten a lot of loco mocos in my day. This one makes a bold statement on my palate. The patties are perfectly seasoned and fork-tender, a textural must when sandwiched between rice and eggs. Unctuously rich gravy completes the perfect bite. The spaghetti “mac” salad, rarely seen these days, provides cool, creamy relief before I dig in for another hefty bite.


Kanak attack notwithstanding, the loco moco from Taka’s Box Lunch is worth finding parking and waiting for. It has even inspired a new personal goal: Having co-authored Frolic’s statewide Top 5 Loco Moco ranking in 2018, I’m inspired to revisit the quest in this post-pandemic era. Taka’s is that good.


Open Monday to Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 830 Mapunapuna St., (808) 834-6918, @takasboxlunch