The food truck phenomenon has rolled into many cities and towns across the country, but who knew it could reach all the way to the Hawaiian islands? I mean, there’s no way for trucks to make it across the Pacific.
But food trucks have arrived in the 50th state, which puts a local flavor to “ono kine grindz” (local slang for “tasty kind of eats”) served up in colorful food trucks. And similar to the Off the Grid food truck gathering in San Francisco, Honolulu hosts its own monthly food truck event called “Eat the Street.”
I’m vacationing in Hawaii this week, and my trip luckily coincided with the monthly “Eat the Street,” which falls on the last Friday of the month.
Last night, I went to a parking lot in the Kaka’ako business district of Honolulu to check out Hawaii’s food trucks. There are more trucks at this event than Off the Grid, almost like a mini Eat Real Festival. Starting with this month’s event, all the food trucks were asked to offer at least one item that includes a local ingredient.
There were your typical taco and burger food trucks, but one trend I noticed at Eat the Street was the number of food vendors selling versions of the island’s famous plate lunch. This is traditionally a plate with an entrée served with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. (These days most people try to be healthy so they serve just one scoop of rice and green salad.) Problem is, when you buy one of these plate lunches, you really can’t try any of the other food trucks.
I started off with an Osaka Jo Japanese taco ($6.50) from the Shogunai Taco truck. This was a huge soft taco (although the taco wrap was slightly toasted, which I appreciated) that was filled with pulled pork marinated in soy sauce and served with bean sprouts and furikake. The pork was almost like pork belly because the chunks were so fatty, adding a lot of flavor.
That almost put me down for the night, but as I walked around and took more pictures, I was able to work up the appetite to try the local favorite, the KC Waffle Dog ($3), which is made by the popular KC Drive-Inn (the local restaurant actually closed but the famous waffle dog lives on).
There were a lot of other popular items, as demonstrated by the long lines, but many of them were deep-fried like fried won ton (promoted as “poppers”), fried shrimp, and French fries, natch.
Thankfully (on a very hot Friday), there were a lot of ice cream and shaved ice trucks, and one truck called Ono Pops that seemed really popular as I saw many people eating its hand-made popsicles. There were some really wild flavors like guava chiffon, watermelon hibiscus, carmel shoyu, and ume thai basil.
The event runs from 4 to 9 p.m., which makes it a fun Friday night event for the locals, and after running around all day in the hot sun, it was nice to stroll around in the cooling Hawaiian evening to spot some ono eats.
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