Shrimp Truck Adventure: Oahu, Hawaii

Hi + Taste is back from a long overdue vacation. As a matter of fact this was our Honeymoon – 6 months after the fact. I’ve been assured that this is the current way to do it, whatever the way, this was our first opportunity to get away. Believe it or not, my husband and I (either together or apart) had never been to Hawaii before. Our target destination was Maui, to bring back the nostalgic coolness of Maui Fever that any ’80’s baby has. Alas we got an essentially gratis vacation to Oahu, so off to Honolulu with no complaints from us. We have many counterparts who traveled the islands extensively, some having lived there, so we were not at a loss for recommendations of what to do. And, we practically did it all – swam with the sea turtles (who are no longer on their way to extinction – thank the heavens! – but are still on the protected list, so no touchy!!!), snorkeled in open water, snorkeled in sheltered hidden coves, hiked cliffsides, lazed around, drank frozen Mai Tais, went to a Luau, AND appropriate for this venue, explored the North Shore and many of the famed shrimp trucks.

There are shrimp trucks scattered everywhere if you travel up to the North Shore along Kamehameha Hwy, with pockets of concentration in towns like Haleiwa. I’m told the reason for all the shellfishy fare are the fresh water farms that thrive on the North Shore. My vegetarian companion is not much of a pescatarean and also stays pretty far away from shellfish, but one thing I love about him is that he is willing to try anything once including shrimp. So, I was exceptionally careful to just find the creme de la creme of shrimp trucks so as not to scar him for life against shellfish. I, however, am a glutton when it comes to shrimp. My family vacationed every year in Hilton Head, South Carolina where the shrimp thrive in open water. We are talking big succulent shrimp that need no sauce – just steam, peel and toss in your mouth. Sweet, tender and to die for. Let’s just say, I had high expectations for the North Shore shrimp trucks. Our first stop was Macky’s situated at the 99 junction of Haleiwa. As stated before, TONS OF TRUCKS in this town. Macky’s blatantly boasts that they are the number 1 shrimp truck in the North Shore, a part of what surely must be a bitter rivalry with countless others. They were also featured on Oprah in 2006. We happened upon them because my foodie sense could just tell they might be the bomb. Guess what?! It was. We had the garlic butter shrimp (I wanted to chose the one that would probably be the safest bet for the husband) which came with a side salad and healthy order of rice. Buttery and succulent, the shrimp were large and served with the shell. I sucked the garlic sauce off, peeled them and popped in my mouth. Tongue cheers all around, the shrimp were obviously quite fresh without any strong shrimpy smell or taste, I would definitely go back.

We meandered around the coast searching for our next spot stopping along some of the beaches for a little walk or swim in order to work up our appetite. Gratuitous beach shot below.

For the next (and final shrimp gorge) we decided to go to a spot right next to one of the farms. Romy’s doesn’t apologize for their longer wait, about 30 minutes, for your shrimp. My suspicion, judging from the tanks filled with live shrimp, is that the shrimps go straight from their tank to the boiler.

To hold myself over during the long wait, I enjoyed my new favorite beverage, Aloha Made Pass-O-Guava. Fittingly they use sugar cane in to sweeten their drinks instead of corn syrup. Yummerific.  Also, check my vintage Versaces with the side shades. They were key. Yup.

Vinnie got the shrimp plate with sweet and spicy sauce, purported to be their most popular. It was delicious, not as spicy as I had hope, more like a tangy candy coating. In my opinion these prawns were so fresh and delicious that they would have been best with no sauce at all…

….so I chose the 1/2 lb. of prawns. A choice you can’t find on many of the shrimp truck menus. Tentacles bursting, these prawns were served steamed with eyeballs and all. The consistency of the prawn is more meaty like a lobster and has a more mild taste. The fresh sweetness certainly came through but a quick dip of cocktail sauce was needed to add complexity to the meal. I also got mine with brown rice, a rare option. I wish I could say I sucked the roe and brain juices from these little guys, but this is not Bizarre Foods. I couldn’t quite muster the desire.

ghahs

All around fabulous shrimpy, prawny excursion. Our bellies were totally bursting and despite my best efforts Vinnie did admit although the shrimp was good, he might be shrimped out for the rest of his life.

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