Oahu’s famous shrimp trucks

by Kris Bordessa on March 22, 2010

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu’s north shore is famous for big wave surfing, but another reason to make the drive to “the country” is for the food. Specifically? Shrimp. The road between Kualoa and the famous surf town of Haleiwa is peppered with Crayola bright shrimp trucks and hand-lettered signs — the kind of establishments visitors might hesitate to visit. But if you pull off to the side of the road, you’ll be rewarded with arguably the best shrimp you’ve ever tasted.

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, Oahu, Hawaii

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (83 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku): Arguably the least attractive of the north shore shrimp establishments, the graffiti-covered truck may also be the most well-known. Pull up a plastic chair under the temporary awning and dig in to the most casual shrimp scampi meal you’ve ever ordered. Service here can be hit or miss, but décor notwithstanding, if you’re traveling Kamehameha Highway, it’s worth a stop.

Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp (56-781 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku): Housed in a vivid red shack (not a truck) Romy’s offers up shrimp they’ve raised themselves. Large prawns doused in butter and garlic require plenty of napkins. The shrimp is excellent — but not fast, as the sign in the window proclaims: This is not a fast food. This is good food, as fast as we can make it. Guests order from an outside window and dine at picnic tables.

Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp truck in Oahu

Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp (56-777 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku): Shrimp is harvested daily at Fumi’s and in addition to the cooked options, guests can take live shrimp home for dinner. The popular shrimp truck offers nearly a dozen different preparations — the deep-fried coconut shrimp is a personal favorite. Demand for Fumi’s shrimp led them to expand into a larger, more permanent structure, but just a few hundred yards away, the original truck is still in operation.

Accommodations on Oahu’s north shore are minimal, but you will find the pricey Turtle Bay Resort as well as the quaint Ke Iki Bungalows nearby. Frugal travelers may prefer to stay in Waikiki at bargain hotels like Park Shore Waikiki or Aqua Waikiki Pearl.

- Kris Bordessa of Honolulu On The Cheap and Big Island On The Cheap

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine March 27, 2010 at 12:06 am

It’s always a good idea to go where locals (not visitors) like to eat – they know what’s tastiest. This looks great! Will keep it in mind.

Frugal Kiwi March 27, 2010 at 12:53 am

Those shrimp look huge. Any larger and you’d have to peel the legs to get the meat out. Yum.

Melanie Haiken March 27, 2010 at 3:01 am

How fascinating that the truck trend would extend to something as gourmet (at least to me) as shrimp; this is really cool to know about and something I’d definitely put on my must-do list when I visit. In San Francisco the hot trend is dessert trucks, at least I think that’s the latest – hard to keep up with the foodies, who always seem to be a step ahead!

MarthaAndMe March 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

When we visited we went to Romy’s – and I definitely would NEVER have done it if I hadn’t read about it in advance b/c the trucks definitely look a little questionable. It was AMAZING shrimp though. Incredibly fresh and sweet and I highly, highly recommend it.

Alexandra March 27, 2010 at 10:08 am

When we travel, we always try to figure out where the natives eat. They obviously know a good shrimp truck when they see one, so our motto is, follow the lines.

Susan March 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

Thanks for the recommendations! Wish I were back in Oahu right now. :)

MyKidsEatSquid March 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

One of my favorite Thai “restaurants” happens to be a cart that stops in downtown Denver. I love getting food from local vendors–so much fun. I have to know though, what kind of dipping sauce is that next to the shrimp? Something tropical I suppose?

Sheryl March 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Wow. What a treat for a shrimp-lover. Looks and sounds fabulous – and so easy to find great shrimp whenever the mood strikes.

Sarah Henry March 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Hawaiian-style street food. Love it. And those shrimp look plump and juicy and good!

Ruth Pennebaker March 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm

That does it. I am coming to Hawaii soon.

Kris Bordessa March 31, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Kiwi, they ARE huge! And tasty, too. MarthaAndMe, the trucks are kind of questionable looking, but if you can get past that, as you did – yum!

jennifer margulis March 31, 2010 at 1:54 pm

This looks so so delicious. I wish I lived closer! I love street food of all kinds and this looks like the best. (Nice photos too Kris!)

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