Hidden gem: Upscale Hawaii Food Truck

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If you love a good steak, the garlic ribeye plate ($20) is your dish. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the tender 12 oz. steak is easily cut with the plastic cutlery provided.

Upscale Hawaii’s garlic ribeye plate ($20). Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the 12 tender ounces cut easily with the plastic cutlery that comes with.

A while ago my Instagram feed started showing big, juicy steaks, lobster tails and garlic shrimp from a little-known food truck called Upscale Hawaii. After seeing mouthwatering posts over and over again, I needed to go. I rounded up a few foodie friends and drove to Kalihi, to an unlikely spot along Kapalama Canal.

Drive down Kohou St. right after the entrance to Damien and look for a bright pink food truck parked in the driveway of a home.

The truck parks in front of 1510 Kohou St. Turn right after the entrance to Damien High School and look for the bright pink truck.

The menu is simple and portions huge and tasty. Most plate lunches range from $9 to $15 and premium dishes like ribeye steak and steak and lobster are both $20.

If you can't choose between steak and garlic shrimp, be like my friend Trung and get both ($15). Order the steak to your favorite rarity and get some North Shore style shrimp to go with it.

If you can’t choose between steak and garlic shrimp, be like my friend Trung and get both ($15). You can order the steak to your favorite doneness.

Choose from steak, garlic shrimp, salmon, lobster tails, ahi steak and fried poke or make a combo for a hearty lunch or dinner.

If you're in the mood for a thick slab of grilled fish, one of their most popular dishes is the ahi steak slathered in bomb sauce ($12).

If you’re in the mood for a thick slab of grilled fish, one of their most popular dishes is the ahi steak slathered in bomb sauce ($12).

Each dish comes with a topping of roasted garlic cloves. I like cutting them into neat pieces; others smash them into their steak.

If you're feeling classy and have a $20 bill, the steak and lobster plate is a huge portion of succulent beef and a juicy 4 oz. lobster tail.

If you’re feeling classy and have a $20 bill, the steak and lobster plate is a huge portion of succulent beef and a juicy 4 oz. lobster tail.

During the day, there’s parking next to the truck as well as along the canal. There’s no seating (the truck is parked in front of the owners’ grandma’s house), so find a good place to have a picnic or take it home or back to work. We headed over to Peter Buck Mini Park across the way on Houghtailing and had lunch on one of the handful of shaded benches.

Truck owners D Cruz and Mike Valdez.

Truck owners D Cruz and Mike Valdez.

So the big question: What’s a truck with a name like Upscale Hawaii and steak and lobster on the menu doing in this spot? Well, owners D Cruz and Mike Valdez, who had no commercial kitchen experience but liked to cook and eat well, were talking story in their garage and ended up deciding to open a food truck. They prep out of their kitchen at the old Mitsuken location and ended up on Kohou Street because it offered more parking for customers.

Once people found them on Instagram and Yelp, they started getting a steady stream coming for lunch and dinner. Be sure to follow them on Instagram (@UpscaleHawaii) for up-to-date menu and hours.

Upscale Hawaii Food Truck
1510 Kohou St.
Instagram
Lunch: Wed, Fri, Sat 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Tues-Fri 6 p.m.-10 p.m.