Now you can talk to anyone you want about shrimp in Hawaii, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I am making my voice known about what I believe is the BEST shrimp on the island of Oahu. No, you don’t have to agree with me, no you don’t have to go, but regardless of where I have had shrimp, to date, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore is the place to be. Yes I saw it featured on The Travel Channel, and I just figured it was another popular tourist spot for sub par eats in an area surrounded by spectacular views. Now let me explain, when I travel, I want food that is a real reflection of what locals eat at home, and a lot of times the taste is altered to fit the pallet of the tourist, I DO NOT WANT THAT FOOD. Do not Americanize anything you put on my plate, I don’t want it. And at Giovanni’s, whatever they do, they need to keep doing it.
The goal was to get up early, cruise leisurely up to the north shore, catch the sights, stop in for a quick lunch and drop by the Dole Plantation on the way home. Traffic had different plans and the journey took a bit longer. We cruised at a slower pace and I was able to enjoy the views of traditional homes embedded between mansions. I loved seeing the local schools, children playing, but most of all the view of the sea was breathtaking.
We passed several shrimp trucks, and roadside stands on the way to our destination. Giovanni’s is literally a food truck, pulled into a pavilion area, with a few shopping stalls. Its walking distance from the beach but most people were eating at the picnic tables. Yes the line was long, yes there were people everywhere, but I enjoyed the wait and had the opportunity to visit the other stalls selling food, clothing and other trinkets. Everything was very orderly, they don’t have a million menu items, its either Scampi, Lemon Butter or Hot and Spicy (no refunds) served with two scoops of rice and a slice of lemon. Yes you can get some mac salad, no it is not a substitute for the rice. To be honest, you need the rice,you can get it with, or without garlic sauce, I would advise with. Now please know your limits of what you consider to be HOT because the HOT is HOT but the dept of flavor really takes away from the heat in my opinion. I was so busy trying to figure out all of the seasonings, I didn’t realize my mouth was warm. If you are a person who doesn’t like spicy food, this is NOT the shrimp for you, play it safe with Scampi and leave the HOT food to those who can appreciate all the spice we love in our life.
Service is very friendly but nothing fancy, you need cash, and all orders come on a paper plate covered with foil, you can eat there or take it to go. When they call your number, be ready to pick up your food and keep it moving, too much service going on for idle chit chat and please leave a tip. These ladies work at a fast pace, show them some love. A quick drive down to the shore is the perfect spot to sit in the sand, let your mouth sweat and appreciate the magnificence of Hawaii.
Nothing prepared me for the deliciousness I was about to enjoy. The shrimp is fresh, plump, perfectly cooked, shell on, full of flavor but not over seasoned. The rice is sticky and the perfect consistency for the garlic and any sauce from the shrimp, a squeeze of lemon and you have the perfect beach meal. I wouldn’t advise you to touch anything but your shrimp, do not touch your face or eyes until you wash your hands completely. The beach is a perfect spot for this culinary treat, eat, enjoy and then walk into the surf and take a swim to cool down. Leaving the North Shore was a reminder to enjoy where you are in any given moment, be thankful for the experiences that break you, because they force you to constantly evolve into your most authentic self.
No I didn’t do the tour of the plantation, it was almost closing time but most importantly the smell of fresh ripe pineapples went on for miles. I did however stop in the Dole Plantation gift shop and grille and if you are a candy lover, the pineapple gummy bears are a MUST! Yes I know a bag is $9.95, and yes I gladly paid it. Grab a cone of the Dole Whip, I don’t know about all of those people adding toppings, in my opinion the natural flavor of the pineapple speaks for itself. I am not sure what I buy in the grocery store impersonating a pineapple, what I was eating here in Hawaii is how pineapple is supposed to taste.
I enjoyed my visit to the North Shore, the beach views are stunning, I can see why it’s considered a prime area for surfing, the waves speak a language that only those in touch with nature can comprehend. Giovanni’s makes a mean plate of shrimp that I have yet to see rivaled so they hold the title as best shrimp in my book, and the Dole Whip was the perfect chill for my hot mouth. A few gummy bears later I understood why the bag was 10 dollars, these were just as good as the whip, if not better. Yes I had other shrimp while in Hawaii, saw other beaches, ate other treats, but the North Shore is special with its rustic beauty that combines traditional Hawaii with a sprinkles of the rich and famous in between.