The Shogunai Taco truck overloks the Hawaiian surf // (c) 2011 Shogunai Tacos
For decades, Oahu’s lunch wagons have filled the bellies of local businessmen, hungry surfers and industrial workers on their lunch breaks. In recent years, four-wheeled eateries have sprouted up across the island in response to the food truck craze sweeping the nation. From classic wagons serving savory burgers and the beloved plate lunch to vans with gourmet cuisine, Oahu has an eclectic mix of choices just waiting to be sampled. It's a great way to get a quick fix of good food at cheaper prices than found at sit-down restaurants.
Among the classics are Haili's Hawaiian Foods, serving Hawaiian and local plate lunches, stews, wraps and rice bowls in an open parking lot across from Ward Entertainment Center. Ige’s Lunchwagon in Aiea is known for savory local comfort foods, such as meatloaf, shoyu chicken, lau lau, pork tofu, chicken katsu, and hamburger steak. Simply Ono -- with locations in downtown Honolulu and the University of Hawaii -- stands apart with its gourmet offerings, including fresh caught furikake ahi, pork and squash soup, miniature quiche Lorraine, and crab and mushroom baked macaroni and cheese.
The oldest and most well-known of the north shore shrimp trucks is Giovanni’s, which serves its popular shrimp scampi from a graffiti covered white truck in Kahuku. Giovanni’s also operates a second location in Haleiwa town. Also on the north shore is the Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck, with standard flavors – butter and garlic and hot and spicy – as well as tempura shrimp, coconut-breaded shrimp, Western BBQ shrimp, mahi mahi, squid and steak.
Among the new lunchwagons on the block is Gogi Korean Tacos, specializing in the latest fad in fusion cuisine: Korean-style Mexican food. The truck’s most popular item, its $2 taco, includes pieces of short rib, chicken, spicy pork, or tofu marinated in Korean-spiced sauce, served in two soft corn tortillas and topped with a kim chee slaw.
The Jawaiian Irie Jerk lunch wagon is one of the few places on Oahu that serves true Jamaican cuisine. Spicy dishes include jerk chicken and pork, roast fish, Caribbean curry chicken, and stew. The silver truck parked in an open parking lot across from the Hawaii Convention Center, near Waikiki.
Other innovative food trucks include Melt, with such creative grilled cheese sandwiches as one with gouda cheese, pear and homemade harissa; and another with gruyere, cheddar and gouda. Opal Thai Food, a small white truck in Haleiwa, serves favorites like pad thai, spring rolls, drunken noodles and curries. Shogunai Tacos’ globally-inspired menu includes choices such as the Zeus’s Glory Greek Taco, Osaka Jo Japanese Taco, Mardi Gras Shrimp Taco and Baja Rally Mexican Quesadilla.
Soul Patrol serves healthy and affordable Southern cuisine, using local ingredients when possible. Zaratez Mexicatessen, located just off Kapahulu Ave. near Waikiki, sells made-to-order tacos, burritos, quesadillas and mulitas, using locally-made corn tortillas and homemade salsa.