I just might be the poster child for the mantra, “Will travel for food.” If something is worth traveling great distances for — like from my former hood of Kailua to the far reaches of the North Shore — then I’m game for a little adventure.
During my search for hidden ono grinds, I discovered three local food trucks but I didn't just stumble upon them. Their discovery involved everything from multiple DMs with the owners to scouring Yelp for business hours and parking details and straight up stalking their IG accounts to make extra sure they'd be at the location they said they'd be. Oh and I can't forget the many long drives I made across the island to check them out. Thankfully, my efforts were well worth the chase.
If you're planning a circle island tour or don't mind driving upwards of an hour for good grinds, keep these trucks on your radar:
Grinds 2 Da Max
Stomping grounds: 1030 Opule St., Kapolei
What to order: Dynamite chicken katsu plate and furikake salmon combo ($13)
The grinds: Grinds 2 Da Max features a bunch of combo plates so you can easily try many of their offerings. I love chicken katsu so the dynamite katsu is a no-brainer for me. It’s drizzled with wasabi aioli and a spicy sauce reminiscent of sriracha. I'm susceptible to heat and it makes me break a sweat but it’s actually not too hot to handle. The salmon has a salty, crunchy furikake coating but the fatty meat remains moist and tender, a welcome contrast to the crispy chicken.
The $9 fried noodle bento is a crowd favorite because it's neatly packaged and loaded with food but the dynamite chicken katsu is the most popular item.
All regular plates come with two scoops of rice, your choice of potato crab salad or tossed greens and housemade kimchee. Get the potato crab salad, it's worth the extra carbs.
The 411: Grinds 2 Da Max, is usually in Kapolei on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Check their Instagram for updates and special events.
Stomping grounds: 1277 Nani Ihi Ave., Wahiawa
What to order: Poke nachos ($10) or poke fries ($9)
The grinds: The poke nachos are made with deep fried wonton chips loaded with spicy ahi poke. The chips are light, crispy and 100% addictive yet they can hold a generous scoop of poke. The creamy spicy mayo poke is great and packs a kick. If you’re in the mood for French fries, get the poke fries. The thick crinkle-cut fries are served piping hot and come topped with a massive mound of poke, even more than the nachos if you can believe it.
The 411: Kapakahi Grindz is based in Wahiawa near Whitmore Village Park if they're not booked for a catering gig. Chances are you’ll find the truck at rallys like the Second Fridays food truck festival at Leilehua High School.
Disclaimer: The poke fries aren’t always available but if you don’t see them on the menu, just ask. You drove all the way out there so it's worth a shot.
Waialua’s Lunch Wagon
Stomping grounds: 67-180 Goodale Ave., Waialua
What to order: Ahi katsu with poke ($15)
The grinds: The Waialua's Lunch Wagon has a single item on its menu: an ahi katsu plate for $13. It's overflowing with ahi katsu, taegu (dried spicy cuttlefish), mac salad and two scoops of rice. The slabs of fried ahi are super thick and come encased with unagi sauce and sriracha mayo. Most customers also add on a scoop of spicy ahi poke for $2 more but it should be mandatory. The poke is made with fresh caught ahi and features a homemade sauce that boasts some zing.
The 411: Waialua’s Lunch Wagon is usually open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for lunch (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) by Waialua District Park. Hours and days are subject to change based on events so check Instagram for their latest updates. No matter where this truck is parked, one thing’s for sure: they often sell out before 1 p.m..
Sidenote: It’s cash only. Also, you won’t see the name Waialua’s Lunch Wagon anywhere on the truck. Find the red and yellow truck that says “Shootaz," that's the one.