Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – Does the Shrimp Scampi Live Up to Its Hype?

By Mark Wiens 1 Comment
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck - Shrimp Scampi
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – Shrimp Scampi

For years now I’ve been seeing, hearing about, and even passing by the famous shrimp trucks of Kahuku, but up until now, I just never stopped for a meal.

Part of the reason is because by the time I would pass a shrimp truck, I would normally already be stuffed to the brim with poke from Kahuku Superette, or loco moco from Papa Ole’s.

But I happen to be in Haleiwa and I noticed that there was another branch of the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in town. So finally, after many years, I tried my first Hawaii shrimp truck.

Eating at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
Eating at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

As you might know, if you’ve done any research on the shrimp trucks of the north shore of Oahu, there’s a major debate about which is the best.

Giovanni’s is the most famous of them all, written up in nearly every single guidebook written about Oahu, and portrayed as a stop equal in importance to Matsumoto shave ice.

Some people say their experience eating there was totally worth it and worthy of driving all the way from Honolulu to eat there, while others say it’s overrated.

I had to see for myself.

Some claim that Macky’s is better than Giovanni’s, and there are also other shrimp trucks that have huge followings and loyalties.

After enough research and reading reviews, I just decided to go for Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck to see what the hype was all about.

You gotta love a street food truck that looks like this!
You gotta love a street food truck that looks like this!

The firs thing I have to say about Giovanni’s is that their street food truck definitely has some character.

Dangling from the mirror
Dangling from the mirror

The entire van / truck mobile vehicle (but not sure if it moves) is decked out in graffiti and messages written by people from all over the world.

If you look closely, you’ll also find a little mascot dangling from the mirror.

Haleiwa, Hawaii

Wanting to make a video and take as many photos as possible, we arrived early at 10:30 am right as they opened for the day.

It was a rainy day, so they were still pretty quiet, though there were already a few people there when I arrived – If you come at noon, be prepared for quite a crowd.


The menu at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is simple and to the point, shrimp scampi, hot & spicy, the lemon butter version, and finally a garlic hot dog for the non-shrimp eaters in your party.

By far the most popular version of them all is the shrimp scampi.

Though the hot & spicy plate sounded quite tempting, I decided to go for the most popular plate – and I’m a garlic fanatic as well.

Fresh plate of garlic shrimp scampi
Fresh plate of garlic shrimp scampi

After paying my $13, they gave me a number, and it took just a few minutes before they called my name and my piping hot plate of shrimp scampi was ready.

The aroma of garlic was wonderful!

Included on the plate were 12 shrimps, two scoops of rice, a thin wedge of lemon, and because I requested it, a small side of hot sauce.

Giovanni's shrimp truck
All that amazing garlic cake on!

First of all, one thing I liked was that the shrimp came piping hot, right off the fry pan, steaming away on my plate – so they were very fresh.

Also, all of the shrimp were deveined, head off, shell on, and coated in a blanket of garlicky goodness, a big bonus for me.

Rice was a little too oily
Rice was a little too oily

The two scoops of rice were also topped with the same garlic and oil.

To eat the garlic shrimp at Giovanni’s, you can either choose to peel the skin off the shrimp, or if you’re like me, perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in Thailand so much, I don’t mind eating the entire shell and all, and my wife especially loves the shrimp tails.

I personally enjoy the shell as it gives shrimp a bit of extra crunchiness, plus a lot of that garlic is coated on the outside.

Should you eat at a shrimp truck in Hawaii?
Should you eat at a shrimp truck in Hawaii?

The Verdict?

So how was the shrimp scampi from Giovanni’s Truck?

Let me first say that I have yet to visit other shrimp trucks on Oahu, so I can’t compare my experience to anywhere else, other than other shrimp I’ve eaten before.

I personally thought it was pretty good, the shrimp were served hot and fresh, and I loved the generosity of the garlic.

The one thing I didn’t like was that it was very greasy, I didn’t even finish my rice on the bottom because it was swimming in oil.

A little less oil would have been nice.

Also, the price is definitely pretty steep at $13 for a lunch (and by volume wise, I could have eaten 2 plates – but that would have cost $26!), but then again, all the shrimp trucks charge the same amount.

Waiting in line for some tasty shrimp!
Waiting in line for some tasty shrimp!

While I sitting down eating, Giovanni’s really began to fill up, many cars pulling up and rushing over to order their plates of garlic shrimp.

It’s one of the must eat at destination in the Japanese guidebooks for sure.

(If you can’t see the video, watch it here:

Does it live up to its hype?

If you like shrimp and garlic, and are ready for a rich greasy plate of shrimp, I think Giovanni’s is definitely hits the spot – it’s worth a stop in my books.

Address: 66-472 Kamehameha highway, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712
Open hours: 10:30 am – 5 pm daily