Keep an eye out for a bright yellow van situated at Ching’s store, just past Kahana Bay Beach Park in Punalu’u, right on the coast. The Shrimp Shack is operated by some very friendly and helpful locals who cater largely for the tourist trade, as the place is situated on the popular windward coastal route between Honolulu and North Shore. Parking is limited but there is plenty of outdoor seating.
Oahu’s windward coast offers a more authentic Hawaiian local experience than the bright lights of Waikiki. Here in small towns like Punalu’u, locals may seem a little aloof, perhaps because they are constantly inundated with tourists, but if you are genuinely open and friendly towards people they will generally break out a big smile and start to ‘talk story’ with you.
We were travelling en route between Kanaohe and North Shore along the windward coast, and our lunchtime hunger got the better of us. Before we could search for something a little more substantial and healthy, the bright yellow Shrimp Shack caught our attention on the side of the road and we thought we would give it a try. We ordered the Crab Cakes, they were pretty tasty, and the Garlic Shrimp which was medium spicy and heavy on the garlic and salt – altogether pretty tasty. The sweet & sour sauce and the tartare sauce were good. The sticky rice was cooked the way it should be. We had found some delicious pickled mango from a fruit stand on our travels that morning, and it was the perfect accompaniment to our side-of-the-road seafood feast.
I have to say, being from Australia where the seafood is fresh, abundant and of a high quality, the shrimp in Hawaii always disappoints me. Farmed shrimp can never compare to ocean-caught. Nevertheless, it can still be an enjoyable meal. However, for $25 for the two of us for a food truck roadside meal it was definitely a little pricey.
At the Shrimp Shack they use imported farmed shrimp from Kauai. A little further up the road past the little town of Kahuku, there are a lot of aquaculture farms producing local Oahu shrimp, with at least 10 or 12 shrimp food trucks in this locality. Although we had full bellies and were not able to sample any of these, I would say that the shrimp at these places is perhaps a little fresher, being that it is produced right nearby. There are also a number of local stores and markets in the area of Kahuku.
Open 10am - 5pm daily. Phone (808) 256-5589