Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Eats: Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

Think of this as "Part II" of the North Shore Shrimp Truck Review.  We went back and actually managed to order at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck.  Giovanni's is the first, and some say best, shrimp truck on the North Shore.  Several people in our party agreed that Giovanni's is one of the better shrimp trucks.  The lines are long, but the food is worth the wait.  If you're up on the North Shore sightseeing at Shark's Cove, Turtle Bay, the La'ie Sea Arch, or just hanging out, Giovanni's is a great stop for lunch or dinner.  

Giovanni's started in 1993 from a converted bread truck and went from driving around the North Shore to settling in Kahuku in 1996.  Later they expanded with another location in Haleiwa.  One truck is at 66-472 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa and the other is located in Kahuku at 56-505 Kamehameha Highway.  Hours are from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm Monday thru Sunday.  And cash only, no credit cards here.

Since we were going to the Polynesian Cultural Center we stopped by the Kahuku location.  A word of warning: the lines are long.  Yes, it seems like several places we reviewed the lines are long, but that tells you how good is the food.  The wait can be from 45 minutes to 1 hour.  There are a lot of tables and benches, but there are also a lot of people.  

Check the menu items on the surfboard.  I'd definitely recommend the shrimp scampi, that is very tasty and the most popular.  If you like spicy foods, then the Hot and Spicy plate is for you.  I would say it's hotter than many creole or cajun shrimp dishes I've tried.  That warning "No Refunds" is no joke, but more on that later.  

You can also try their other sides like the garlic dog or macaroni salad.  This being Hawaii, you have a choice of getting a bun or rice with your hotdog.  If you're getting the Hot and Spicy plate, I would definitely get a side of macaroni salad and a drink to cool you off.  You can get a soda here or if you a coconut or shave ice try the other truck right next to Giovanni's.  Oh yeah, all those signatures are people leaving their mark.  It is has become a tradition of sorts that diners leave their mark on the truck.  

I wasn't sure who these guys were, but they're quick and cool.  A cool smoothie, shave ice, or a coconut goes well on a hot day or with a spicy plate.  

This was awesome.  They served a chilled coconut and give you a straw and cup to enjoy it.  It is a bit touristy, but this is Hawaii, so why not?

You can drink your coconut under the roof or under a plumeria tree.

Also while you wait for your food, you can check out  the stands around Giovanni's for souvenirs.  

And here is the Hot and Spicy shrimp.  I was surprised.  While I scoff at spicy dishes, this dish is HOT!  It almost overpowers the taste of the shrimp.  Despite the flaming sauce, the shrimp is well cooked and tender, not tough.  Just need to reduce that heat with a squeeze the lemon or a sip of coconut juice.  

Don't forget the sides.  The macaroni salad cools down your palate after taking a bite of spicy shrimp.  This and the coconut were essential to cooling you down if you're going to eat the spicy shrimp.  

The other side to try is the Garlic Dog.  This was okay, I expected more garlic, but it helped to break up the burning sensation between bites of the Hot and Spicy Shrimp.  

And finally, the Shrimp Scampi!  Look at the loads of garlic!  The shrimp was cooked well, tender and not tough.  The garlic was cooked well also.  Garlic will get bitter if overcooked, but it was a nice mellow flavor of garlic and butter.  Unlike some other shrimp places, the dish wasn't too greasy despite the generous serving of butter and garlic sauce.  A worthwhile stop during your trip to the North Shore.  

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