The Garlic Shrimp Truck That Has Taken Over Oahu’s North Shore — Dining on a Dime

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We’re on the Kamehameka Highway in
northern Oahu, we’re headed towards
Kahuku where there is a shrimp truck
that has become sort of legendary. Food
trucks weren’t really that popular in
Hawaii up until very recently, I mean
even in other places in the States, the
food truck hasn’t really been a thing
for much longer than 10 years, say. The
trucks have really proliferated, there’s
dozens of trucks all over the North
Shore. Giovanni’s is the king. They sort
of hold court over the rest of them, but
they specialize in this very simple
preparation of tiger shrimp. They do
lemon butter, they do is scampi which is
with butter and garlic, and they also
do a super fiery hot spicy shrimp.
Giovanni’s, which started over 20 years
ago, really sort of set the bar for
other food trucks. What hey’ve done with
their land is that they allow other
vendors to set up shop there, so it sort
of creates the atmosphere of a lot of
different food trucks, a lot of different
vendors all around. We’re gonna head
there right now, we’re going to brave the
crowds — these places can get really
packed — and try some of these delicious juicy
shrimp that I’ve heard a lot about, and
see what the shrimp truck phenomenon is
all about.

Tell me a little
story about the history of the truck and
when you got involved with the business.
“The truck’s been in business for about
23 years now. We started in 1993, my
brother’s had it since ’97 and we’ve been doing
that ever since.”
So where you from originally?
“Pennsylvania.” How did
you end up purchasing the truck? “While my
brother was stationed over here in the
Army, my mom happened to be over here
visiting and overheard that the original
owners wanted to move back to the
mainland, so she went back and told
my brother and here we are.” I’ll buy that
truck! “That’s right.” It’s a
shrimp truck, there’s a giant shrimp with a
surfboard on there obviously, but how do
you prepare the shrimp? “Basically we just
mix up the oil and put it all in a batch,
we call them cases, with a whole bunch of
shrimp and the sauces and let it sit
for like 8 to 12 hours. We cook it up inside
the truck and serve it up. We have three
flavors on our our menu, it’s the garlic
shrimp that we’re most famous for, the hot
and spicy shrimp which is on the hotter
side — we don’t actually give
refunds for that.” Really?
People come back and are there like I
can’t eat this? “They try but it’s right there
on our menu. Then we have a lemon butter
which is just kind of more of our plain
lemon butter type of shrimp.” Now tell
me about how on the North Shore
especially shrimp trucks are big. “We were
actually the very first shrimp truck on
the island, so we basically started it
all. I would assume just because of the
popularity it just kept becoming more
and more popular so more and more shrimp
trucks started popping up.”
Obviously it’s like you guys are really
cranking, I mean there’s a lot of
business. What is it you think you
guys are doing in your truck that has
made it so popular like over 20 years?
“I think it’s just the sauce.”
I wanted to try a little bit of like
each one of the shrimps, we can get a
half plate, can I get a half plate
of each one?

The shrimp looks super good.
Tiger shrimp, they grow to be pretty
long, the females especially,
really long ,the male’s not so
long. They are the second most cultivated
shrimp species on the planet next only
to the white leg shrimp species. Tiger
shrimp are native to the Indo-Pacific and are
actually an invasive species in the
southern Atlantic in the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ll start with the simpler one which
is the lemon butter. So now that we’ve
lemoned these suckers up, what to do but
dip them in melted butter.
What Sean recommended, he said suck
on the shrimp and then peel and eat,
that’s what I’m going to do.
By sucking you get that briny liquid out.

Let’s try this baby.
Butter and seafood
go so well together.
It’s because the meat is so
delicate and sweet, it goes really well with
the lemon, with that sharp acid tang of
the lemon. Goes so nicely with the fatty
butter flavor, just pure fat, but combined
with that sweet white shrimp meat and
powerful acid tang — just a very perfect
combination lemon and butter.
It doesn’t get simpler but better than
this. Now the spicy is interesting
because they had to specifically put
sign on the menu that says no refunds so
I’m anticipating something hot.
Oh god just licking my fingers, my tongue
is on fire, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
I’m gonna do it for the content.

Oh yeah that is like I have a Tabasco
sauce factory in my mouth.
Holy ****, ok, pretty good, very spicy.
This has a lot of Tabasco in it.
Tabasco is different than like Tapatio
and Cholula because the Tabasco is so much
more vinegary and that is what this is:
a powerful combination of
spices and vinegar. You can alreadt
see I’m starting to sweat.

Let’s move on to the scampi, this is the
most popular one and this is what I
think is really going to be awesome.
Because you see that garlic. Who doesnt
love garlic? If you love garlic, smash that
like button.
Thank you.
They even put a big dollop of chopped
fried garlic right on the ricem big chunk
of garlic right here. The best. This looks
so good.
The garlic tastes so good.
It’s like a nutty acerbic pleasant
backrub, like it’s so bad it’s good, one
of those things. Get a big mouthful of
garlic, the lemon is so good. Like with
the plain lemon and butter shrimp, scampi
is the best. I knew, I knew it
would be.
Giovanni’s, it’s cool, it’s a family
operation, been owned by this family for
the majority of its time in existence,
and certainly has propelled it to the
success story that it is today, which is
just just like popping off. But the
shrimp is really good,
the flavors are simple, they do it simply,
it’s not an extensive menu, and it just
goes to show you that to have a really
successful food business,
you just have to do one thing and do it
really well. That was some fantastic shrimp
from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku in
the northern part of Oahu in Hawaii.

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