Our family decided to take a drive around the island today for no particular reason other than the fact that it was Sunday, so why not? With the madelines I made this morning as a pre-breakfast snack, a cooler full of Hawaiian Sun Green Tea, Lilikoi Tea, and bottles of water, we were good to go! The main issue at hand every time we go on one of these round island trips is: where to eat? Well my sister wanted Kua Aina and my dad wanted shrimp. Mom and I pulled out of the decision making, as things could get too complicated if everyone wanted something different! So dad and sister came to the most ideal compromise possible: we do both Kua Aina and shrimp truck!
First stop: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku. Our family has always been partial to Romy’s located a few trucks further down on Kamehameha Hwy, but since we also heard good stuff about Giovanni’s, we decided to try something different this time. This shot is from the front/street facing side of the truck. Doesn’t look like they’re doing much business, eh?
Well look the other side, and holey moley! This line was insane – you’d think they were giving away free shrimp or something.
The line goes and goes…it was this long when we came and grew even longer when we left! Luckily finding an empty picnic table wasn’t too difficult. There are three different types of shrimp plates offered on the menu (scampi, spicy, and lemon & butter), for $12 a plate. Now I know it’s shrimp, but $12 is kinda a lot for a plate lunch place that takes cash only. The guy in front of us bought NINE plates, and spent a good five minutes digging through his pockets after realizing that credit cards were a no-no.
Sister and I each had the “Shrimp Scampi: The Best, Lots of Garlic!” There’s half-pound of shrimp per plate, about a dozen pieces. True to their word, there was a LOT of garlic, all over the shrimp and all over the rice (which is a really, really good thing!). But even more than garlic was BUTTER. SO MUCH BUTTER. Like ALL OVER THE PLACE. Butter is good, but an ocean of butter swimming on the bottom of your plate is somewhat not so good. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it! Butter + Rice + Garlic + Aloha Shoyu = starch based bliss! The shrimp were crisp and cooked just so, but somehow I felt that they just didn’t have that ‘it’ factor of Romy’s prawns. Now these are shrimp and the ones we had at Romy’s were prawns, but those prawns were so vibrant and full of flavor! Try comparing the photo of these shrimp to the prawn at Romy’s…
Mom and Dad went with the “Hot & Spicy Shrimp: Super Hot, No Refunds!” Mom liked it but Dad was letdown. He said, “it’s so hot that you can’t taste anything other than heat!” That’s true. Mom can really take heat, so I guess it all depends on your tolerance level. In the end, it was unanimous among the family: we’re glad we went to Giovanni’s to see what all the hype was about, but we’re sticking to Romy’s in the future.
We digested our food as we drove further towards Haleiwa. Now we’re perfectly aware that there’s another Kua Aina location in Ward – which is only 10 minutes from my home. So why drive two hours to a different location? Because it’s just better. I swear, the burgers, sandwiches, and even fries taste better out here. After we walked around Haleiwa a bit, we decided that yes, it was time for a late lunch!
We shared a large basket of fries, shoestring kind, some are crispy, others are soggy, so you get a good mix of everything and don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. I’m not too picky on fries: fat, thin, soft, crisp, I’ll take all that and everything in between. Ooo, and I like curly fries too! I REALLY like curly fries!
Fries aside, my absolute most favorite menu item at Kua Aina is the Tuna-Avocado Sandwich. It blows all their burgers out of the water. You’d think burgers would be the best thing here cause everyone gets burgers and blah blah, but no. It’s the sandwich. Specifically the Tuna-Avocado Sandwich. Wanna see something?
Look! I told you! Doesn’t that look spectacular? Tuna salad, half an avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, all on a nutty wheat bread. It’s awesome. There’s really nothing to it, and I bet you could make it at home, but still, it would never taste as good as this. I don’t know why. If I knew, I’d be making them at home instead of driving to Haleiwa to buy one. There’s just something so fine, so perfect in sinking your teeth though all those layers. More often than not, the avocado will fall out, but with a bit of maneuvering, it’ll just mash right into the sandwich, turn all creamyyyy, and boy, that’s bliss.
Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck
Kahuku, near the sugar mill
66-160 Kamehameha Hwy # C
Haleiwa, HI 96712