Story by Becky Speere
On O‘ahu, where I lived in the seventies, Kaka‘ako, Manoa, and North Shore surf sites supported mom-and-pop food trucks that offered local favorites like chopped steak and onions, or shoyu chicken with the ubiquitous “two scoops rice” and mac salad. On Maui, a cute hot-pink truck in Lahaina has served the same menu for twenty-five years. Recently, a new fleet of food trucks has stormed the island, with chefs who dish up Mediterranean, Japanese, Pacific Regional, Mexican and more. Here are a few of our favorites.
Michael Worrell grew up in Saudi Arabia. He says, “Habibi means ‘friend,’ ‘my love,’ and ‘affectionate grace,’ so I thought, ‘That would be a good name for the business.’” Words like fattoush and shawarma will quickly become part of your vocabulary after you taste Worrell’s dishes built on organic Maui greens. Fattoush, a salad dressed with lemony tahini vinaigrette, is spiked with sumac, a tangy, red dried berry. A side of falafel — Worrell’s specialty, made with whole chickpeas folded into a spicy puree and deep fried — adds crunch and deep, savory flavors. Shawarma is a pita wrap filled with shaved meat (marinated lamb or chicken) topped with lettuce and crunchy veggies slathered in toum, the Levantine “mayonnaise” that is actually a healthy, creamy garlic-yogurt sauce. You’ll want to raise your arms and spin a circle dance! Bil-hana’ wa ash-shifa’. “May you have your meal with gladness and health.”
808-280-8551 | Facebook.com/HabibiMichaelz
At Maui Brewing Company
605 Lipoa Pkwy., Kihei
Monday 5-10 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday 5-10 p.m.
At Longs Drugs
55 Kiopa‘a St., Pukalani
Tuesday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wayne’s Sushi / Fresh off the Boat
Another language lesson comes from this sushi-boat lunch truck. (You have to see it to understand.) The humorous menu board includes Da Buggah ‘Ono (sushi roll with eel, jalapeno, crab mix and avo), What Brah, Beef? (shrimp tempura and asparagus roll topped with beef tenderloin), and Wayne Bo Roll (California roll topped with albacore, salmon, hamachi, avo and more). After I stop chuckling, I tuck into one of the tastiest hand-rolled sushi I’ve ever eaten. Chef Wayne Miyahira knocks them out of the ocean with wife-partner Heidi and son Jesse. His sushi is light on the rice, high on flavor and full of seafood. Wayne’s Crispy Critter Roll with crab, shrimp tempura and avocado, is napped with unagi sauce and a drizzle of spicy togarashi mayo. Hawai‘i Goes Fishing is lightly torched to give the slightest hint of smoke to the spicy roll. Oh, did I mention sushi hot dog? Happy service, too! Itadakimasu! “I eat with gratitude.”
For locations, days and times, follow Wayne’s at Facebook.com/WaynesSushi or call 808-281-8810.
Maui Fresh Streatery
Chef/owner Kyle Kawakami’s vehicular venue won the 2015 readers’ choice ‘Aipono Award for Best Lunch Truck on Maui. His creative juices never cease to amaze; themed menus change every two weeks and keep loyal customers coming back. One fun menu dished up the “Down South” with humor: Miss Piggy’s Revenge showcased buttermilk-marinated frog legs, dusted with creole-seasoned flour and deep fried. The legs tasted like tender fried chicken with a hint of garlic. Chef Kyle served it with a sublime spicy aioli sauce and a side of Cajun dirty rice that got me in a foot-stompin’ zydeco mood. Another week traveled to Greece: beef-lamb gyros with a yogurt-dill-tahini sauce. Chef Kyle uses only the freshest local produce in his tried-and-true scratch recipes, from entrees to salad dressings. Next stop: Bengal? Su tripti. Vietnam? An ngon nhe. (Both mean “Have a nice meal.”) Hawai‘i? Hele mai ‘ai.“Come and eat!”
At Ilima Shell,
137 E. Ka‘ahumanu Ave., Kahului
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Hours subject to change)
808-344-7929 | MauiFreshStreatery.com
Kinaole Grill Food Truck
A short block mauka (inland) of Kama‘ole III Beach Park, you’ll find some unexpectedly ‘ono grinds (delicious eats); just look for the brightly painted food truck and the line of patrons at lunch and dinner time. Donna, the friendly lunch-truck lady, and Becca, the owner, suggest I try the calamari and their popular coconut shrimp. They do not disappoint. Lightly fried in fresh peanut oil, the coconut shrimp and calamari strips are piping hot and golden brown with breading that crunches with every bite. There’s nothing like a salad to assuage one’s guilty indulgence in fried foods, so I’m elated when my order arrives with a large, fresh, organic green salad dressed with feta cheese and a creamy lemon dressing. Next time, I’ll have to try the panko mahi and pulled-pork plates. Fresh liliko‘i cheesecake, too! Bon appetit! “Enjoy your meal!”
77 Alanui Keali‘i Dr., Kihei
Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
808-280-9048 | Facebook.com/KinaoleGrillFoodTruck
In a parking lot off Papalaua Street, next to the Sugar Cane Train depot, a sign on the truck declares “Real Mexican Food,” and it is. Two warm corn tortillas wrap fish or shrimp that’s been herb-marinated and grilled. A redhead in her early twenties stands next to me, and I ask if she’s eaten at Ono Tacos before. She replies, “I eat here twice a week. I get two beef tacos or two shrimp tacos.” Holding my own fat taco with two hands, I bite into the roasted pork; it explodes with pineapple fruitiness and chef/owner Jose Medina’s secret blend of Mexican chiles. The fish taco is topped with a creamy chile-cabbage slaw, and although I can add one of Chef Medina’s homemade salsas, I opt to eat it as is. The rice and beans also fly the Mexican colors. Que aproveche! “Enjoy your meal!”
910 Honoapi‘ilani Hwy., Lahaina
Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
808-357-3779 | Facebook.com/Ono.Tacos