Thursday, May 17, 2012

Island Chef

If you take the drive on the famous "Road to Hana" in Maui, don't overlook this modest food stand on the side of the road serving "ono grindz" from another great food truck known as Island Chef.

The "Road to Hana" is about 2.5 - 3 hours long depending on where you stay on the West side.  The road is long, narrow, winding, and roller-coasterish.  I get carsick very easily, so we stopped often along the way to get out and take pictures and eventually I knew I needed some food.  Without a doubt, we pulled over at the Island Chef food truck and I immediately smelled garlic and ginger in the air.

Nothing formal here, just browse their expansive menu - choose from shrimp, fish, or plate lunches - then step up to the window to place your order.  They can do it deep fried or lightly pan fried.  They had just caught some fresh ono (aka wahoo, a type of mackerel) and were quickly filleting it up in the back.  It looked great, but we were in the mood for shrimp and their sign boasted the coconut & beer battered, so we ordered one plate to share.  It was already a bit crowded when we arrived, and I could tell the sweet lady cooking in the truck was a bit overloaded.  But she was gracious, asked for our patience and gave us a heads up that it may take 30 minutes.  She directed us to a little shop next door that sold drinks and baked goods, as well as some souvenirs so we popped in there for a bit.  Banana bread seems to be another specialty on this part of the island, as many stands along the way had signs advertising it.  This shop had its own twist on the banana bread with pineapple and coconut varieties.  So we picked up a small loaf too.

After about 45 minutes, our shrimp was ready.  The wait was long, but the ambience was friendly and tropical (I had several mosquito bites to prove it), and we were on "island time" after all.  The shrimp were huge and had lots of coconut flavor.  But it was just ok - I think it suffered from her rushing to complete all the orders to avoid disgruntled patrons (as there were quite a few who did not want to wait as long and thus canceled their orders).  Nevertheless, this was the first hot food option along the 2.5 hour long road trip and I was happy to have something in my stomach.  The banana bread was more pineapple than banana, yet still moist and not overly sweet.  All in all, Island Chef was a fun first food stop during our Hawaiian adventure.

Total Rating: 3.1
Food: 3, Price: 3, Service: 3, Ambience: 4.5, Accessibility: 2

What I ate:

Coconut Shrimp & Chips

Pineapple-Coconut Banana Bread

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