By Valerie Moloney
Don’t be fooled by my Irish last name. In another life, I could have been Hawaiian. Chalk it up to my love for SPAM and eggs (Did I just say that out loud?), and the carbtastic plate lunch, two ice cream-shaped scoops of white rice, creamy macaroni salad and flaky chicken katsu. It’s the type of comfort food that I would happily take a Hawaii vacation for — because for goodness sake, you couldn’t eat like that everyday — just to sample the real deal from the local food trucks. Yes, the gastro sensation has spread to the islands, and my taste buds couldn’t be happier for it. Because if it came down to eating a pork bun on a Seattle street corner or among the swaying palms and majestic surf near my Honolulu hotel, I’d have to pick the latter.
To give props to Seattle and all the other foodie cities — San Francisco, New York and Chicago, to name a few — the food truck movement is certainly not new, but in Oahu, 2010 was a banner year as dozens mushroomed throughout the area. It’s no surprise to the natives, as lunch wagons have been a staple for decades. Among the notables:
1. Simply Ono
Near downtown and the University of Honolulu, the wagon fuels hungry diners on favorites like hamburger steak and Hawaiian plates alongside more gourmet offerings like furikake ahi and pork and squash soup.
2. Macky’s Sweet Shrimp Truck
If you see a giant red prawn on the side of a truck, chase it down. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on lemon pepper shrimp, coconut shrimp, spicy hot shrimp and all the other versions that Bubba and Forest Gump would have appreciated.
3. Gogi Korean Tacos
Skeptics might dismiss the marriage of Korean with Mexican fare, but Gogi delivers big on flavor with ingredients like Korean-marinated short rib, pork and chicken peaking out from two soft corn tortillas. Add a dollop of kimchee and you’re set.
Who knew that grilled cheese could be so divine? This traveling truck plates up five kinds. The king: The Melt of Shame, a quarter-pound beef patty hugged by two grilled cheese sandwiches.
Insider tip No. 1: Invite your doctor friend as a traveling companion. Have her bring a crash cart.
Insider tip No. 2: Save up to 40 percent off beach vacations to Hawaii and other tropical destinations when you book on Orbitz through March 7.
Valerie Moloney is a writer for Orbitz who was born in the Philippines, lived in Morocco and married a native Irishman. She now covers hotels around the world and contributes to the Orbitz blog.