Snapshots from Hawaii: Garlic Shrimp


Oahu's North Shore is known for its big waves, but I went there for its big shrimp. After spending the morning frolicking in a Lost filming location, we found just what were looking for at the legendary Giovanni's White Shrimp Truck: shrimp. Lots of it. Drowned in garlic and butter.

20080408GiovanniTruck.jpgThere are two Giovanni locations, or parking spots, more like: one in Haleiwa, where we were that day, and another in Kahuku. Tommy, my Hawaiian food guide, informed me that Giovanni's is one of the oldest and most popular of the shrimp trucks that dot the North Shore—and arguably the best. Though it's called the White Shrimp Truck, its white exterior is almost completely covered in autographs and graffiti by past and present Giovanni shrimp enthusiasts.

Written on a simple whiteboard, the menu options consist only of three shrimp plates, and a hot dog covered in scampi. All the shrimp plates come with a dozen shrimp, cost $12, and are served with two big scoops of rice and a fat lemon wedge. There's the Shrimp Scampi: "The best, lots of garlic!", the Hot-N-Spicy: "Very hot! NO REFUNDS!!", and the Lemon Butter: "Boiled in lemon butter."

20080408SpicyShrimp.jpgBeing a chili pepper fiend, I was instantly attracted to the spicy shrimp, whose ominous warning only fed fuel to my fiery craving. Believing that such a warning was only for the wimpy tongues of mere mortals, I ordered my hot-n-spicy with cool confidence. Let me tell you: I was owned. The shrimp were swimming in fiery vinegar, a sauce that must have been made by some kind of alchemy that turns the Island's molten lava into hot sauce. A sweaty nose is never a good sign. Luckily, my friend had promised me beforehand that she would trade six of her shrimp scampi for my own, so I didn't have to sniffle too much. The scampi had huge chunks of caramelized garlic and I even got to pour some extra lemon garlic butter all over my rice, which definitely helped the burning mouth situation.

Hours later, our dangerously potent garlic burps only had us craving more of those curbside crustaceans.