Koji’s Bento Korner doesn’t look like much from the outside, has nowhere to sit down inside; it’s take-out only. It kind of reminds me of a country store, not out-of-character for Hilo. Inside, there’s enough room for just a few people to order. Despite all that, locals come here for the Koji loco special: two hamburger patties, three Portuguese sausage slices, fried rice, one fried egg, mac salad and kimchi. My wife and I stopped here for breakfast before heading out to Waipio Valley.
After picking up our order, we had to figure out where we were going to sit. One possible place was across the street at Wailoa River State Park, but the better one was around the corner, a spot graciously offered to us by Paul’s Place Cafe where my wife bought coffee. (Would you believe they even gave us glasses of water while we ate our breakfast?)
Loco moco, or the idea of it (patties covered in gravy over rice), has never appealed to me very much, not helped by the thought of dried out ground beef so common in burgers nowadays. I made an exception today because of its status among Koji’s customers. I’ll be the first to admit his loco moco was quite good. The gravy had teriyaki flavor. More importantly, the ground beef was tender, likely a combination of not being too lean and overly handled. The sausages were of high quality, nicely browned, and not too salty or chewy (like Hawaiian Style Cafe’s). The macaroni salad was one of the better ones I’ve had in Hawaii, the fried rice rather ordinary. The kimchi was typically Hawaiian-style. In short, Koji loco was a winnah (☆☆☆).
Koji’s Bento Korner
52 Ponahawai St.
Hilo, HI 96720