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Saturday 1 May 2010

Shrimp trucking in North Shore Oahu - buttery garlicy sweet sweet shrimp goodness!!

You can not go to Oahu without hitting up at least one shrimp truck.  Let me repeat that.. you can NOT go to Oahu without hitting up at least one shrimp truck and stuffing your face with gloriously sweet Kahuku shrimp drowned in copious amounts of garlic and butter!!!  The Kahuku variety of white shrimp only found on the Hawaiian islands, and has a characteristic sweetness to it not found in any other shrimp varieties I"ve encountered.  But you can't go wrong with the formula of fresh shrimp + butter + garlic.

Pineapple whip from the Dole Plantation
Shrimp trucks are notrious for not having fixed locations, but the idea is pretty simple.  A shrimping company takes a bunch of thier fresh shrimp on the road in a truck, cooks and serves them to customers in said truck, and customers sign truck.  I'm not sure how the signature thing evolved, but the rumor is the dirtier and more rundown looking the truck (ideally its been around so long, it doesn't even run anymore), the better the shrimp... when in rome... 

The idea is simple - eat the shrimp at its freshiest without having to go all the way out to the farms themselves.  Being purists, we hunted down several shrimp trucks as well as the shrimp farms too on a sunny day in May 2010.

Mmmmm... roadtrip time!  First place on our list to (locate) and hit up is Giovanni's.  Touted as one of the best in Hawaii, we wouldn't be doing this blog justice if we didn't attempt to find it!  After a trip to the Dole Plantation for some delicious fresh pineapple whip, we're on our way to find out first shrimp truck!  You don't need to pay admission to the Dole Planation to eat at the Dole Plantation Grille - they serve a variety of family/wallet friendly meals from their cafeteria style resturant, but what everyone goes for is their amazing pineapple whip.  Essentially, fresh pure pineapple juice is frozen, aerated and whipped into a smooth, creamy pineapple nirvana.  Staff regularly topped up the pineapple hip machines with huge buckets of pineapple juice every 30minutes or so.  We watched a young petite willow like Japanese girl heroically devour Dole's infamous pineapple whip combo - 6 servings (twists) of pineapple whip with about 2 cups of freshly chopped pineapple chunks, while we polished off our own single twists with generous amounts of sweet sweet pineapple.  You cant help but notice anyone who puts a spoonful of this whip into thier mouths - break into a gentle smile. Yummmmm. I had to go back for seconds. Double yummmm!

Driving from Honolulu towards the Northshore on the Kamehameha Highway (I loooove the way it rolls off the tongue! Kamehameha, not highway lol!), we see a telltale blue weather beaten sign and do a quick turn into a shady looking parking lot and we've found our first Giovanni's truck, properly scribbled upon by countless customers and fans. 

The classic Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
Seating is at some picnic tables nearby, and a derlict tap is available for washing sticky fingers - no soap, nor paper towels though, so be sure to bring along some of your own.  The shrimp!!! They had both a lemon butter variety and shrimp scampi - the garlicy butter drowned shrimp we were looking for!!! We had both of course!  Despite its odd location, it proved to be very popular, with a steady 10person lineup the whole time we were there.   Though we found several more Giovanni trucks (and tried 2 - one parked in another remote location on the Kamehameha Hwy, and the other parked infront of what we presumed was Giovanni's official shrimping operation also along the Kamehameha Hwy), the garlic butter scampi shrimp was by far the best, but sometimes inconsistent with "doneness" of the shrimp - one batch was overcooked.  $13US for a dozen shrimp and 2 scoops of rice at Giovanni's.

There was a dozen shrimp, but we dug in before the pic could be shot!
Next up as we drove up and to the northeast of the island, we encounted almost row after row of shrimp farms.  The best one, we found was Fumi's. Ran by japanese/koreans - they know how to cook thier shrimp - which are guarnteed fresh, as the shrimp farm they scoop the shrimp out of is right behind the storefront!

A great dealie - $13 for a dozen sweet large shrimp cooked to perfecion laced with garlic butter and fried garlic, a light green salad with a tangy vinegrette to cleanse the palate, a small piece of ripe super sweet pineapple - for $13US! Oh, and 2 scoops of rice topped with a huge pile of fried garlicly buttery goodness!!! Roasted corn (exta $1 or 2) was sweet, but not outstanding like the shrimp.. yum!  They also had bathroom facilities, a huge pavillion under which lots of tables were set up, and most importantly, a large sink with soap and paper towels to wash up after your meal.  Fumis also sells the shrimp wholesale, though they prefer you call ahead so they can scoop and package up the live shrimp so its ready for pickup.
Fumi's excellent shrimp scampi with salad, rice and pinapple, roasted corn extra

Finally, rounding around the east point of the island, we spotted a vietnamese run shrimp truck named Hono's Hawaii Ono Shrimp.
Customers had to squint a bit to read the menus inside the dim truck interior
A tasty vietnamese twist to butter garlicy shrimp - bit of citrus added to the shrimp, and a super refreshing coleslaw of shredded cabbage tossed with a light tangy vinegrette. yummmm!

Hono's Hawaii Ono Shrimp scampi with vietnamese coleslaw and rice
So after a full day of shrimp trucking, we're off to waddle, er.. walk it off at the beach.  Sooooo satisfying.  Our rental car is redolent with the scent of butter, garlic and sweet sweet shrimp... which makes some of us want more, even though we have no more room. Yum!  If you get lost along the way, follow your nose and you'll find them!

Dole Plantation
Address 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa, HI
Phone  (808) 621-8408
Dole Plantation Grille on Urbanspoon

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Address 56-505 Kamehameha Hwy Kahuku, HI
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck on Urbanspoon

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Address 55-777 Kamehameha Hwy Kahuku, HI  
Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp on Urbanspoon

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Honos Hawaii Ono Shrimp
Address Just past Kawela on Kamehameha Hwy Kahuku, HI. If you Hit Haleiwa, you've gone too far. Look for a bit of a campsite that has a bunch of other food trucks.


Anonymous said...

My name is Jorge Amorim and I’m the Marketing manager of Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. I would like to thank you for the kind words and to ask you to help spread the word around your parts. Keep a look out for our website in the near future.
Thank You,
Jorge Amorim
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Elsie said...

I LOVE Hawaii! I'm actually planning my birthday trip there next year! :) I'll have to go eat at the places you went to! I've only been to the Dole Plantation, and I love it! I'm printing off your list and taking it with me! I haven't decided which island to go to, or do island hopping, or whatever yet, but my big bday will be there and hopefully I won't be too depressed about another year! :D

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