Shrimp’s Up

Oahu’s North Shore teems with homegrown eateries devoted to the tasty crustacean

By: By Kathy Chin Leong

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Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck
56-505 Kamehameha Highway, in front of the Kahuku Sugar Mill, Kahuku
808-293-1839

Macky’s Shrimp Truck
Kamehameha Highway, next door to a 7-Eleven, Haleiwa
808-780-1071

Romy’s Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp
56-781 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku
808-232-2202

 

Romy’s Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp serves up delectable seafood. // (c) Kathy chin Leong
Romy’s Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp serves up
delectable seafood. // (c) Kathy Chin Leong

Tour companies may define Oahu’s North Shore by its huge winter waves, but locals think of it in terms of food.

When it comes to the North Shore, it’s the shrimp, not the swells, that get my adrenaline pumping. Here, at least seven shrimp trucks and stands fuel customers daily with fresh-caught bounty. These shelled beauties are uniquely juicy, enormous and sweet. Most stands open at 10 a.m. A typical dish is served on a paper plate piled high with shrimp or prawns and a couple scoops of rice.

It’s a no-frills atmosphere and messy experience. Picture getting your hands sticky from peeling a dozen shrimp, having butter drip down to your elbows, and sucking the garlic sauce from each and every shell so you don’t waste a lick. These low-overhead operations pepper Kamehameha Highway with sandwich-board signs and tented picnic tables.

Giovannni’s Original Shrimp truck was the pioneer when it opened in Kahuku in 1993. Now, owner Troy Nitsche sells as many as 900 plates in one day. Visitors-in-the-know line up for the classic $12 garlic shrimp scampi. The cult-classic’s quirky claim to fame began years ago when customer Ed Hernandez scrawled his name on the white van, and thousands have since followed suit.

Romy’s, a cherry-red shack in Kahuku, sells cooked prawns, fish and shrimp bred from the 31 ponds on the premises. Terry Aguinaldo and her husband, Romy, are so successful that customers will queue up for an hour to purchase a one-pound prawn plate. Romy’s also offers a two-hour, fish-it-yourself activity. For $35, visitors can catch live prawns and have them barbecued on-site.

Macky’s, a shrimp truck in Haleiwa, is run by a Taiwanese fellow simply known as Macky. Each of his five shrimp plates are just $11 with salad, rice and a slice of fruit. The lemon-pepper shrimp is his signature dish, and he makes a point of visiting and shaking his customers’ hands, whether greasy or clean.

 

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