Shrimp Wars: Giovanni’s vs. Fumi’s (Kahuku, HI)


The usual money on the North Shore shrimp trucks is on Giovanni’s, which started the phenomenon back in the 1960s by offering fresh shrimp (from their own farm) cooked in olive oil, butter and garlic and served with two scoops of rice (what else!). Since then, there have been many imitators, some who have their staunch advocates. These include Macky’s, Romy’s and Fumi’s, all located along the Kam Highway in Kahuku.

Last year, we ate at Fumi’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku on the recommendation of a poster on chowhound. So, this year, in our attempt to compare the two, we purchased one plate from Giovanni’s and one from Fumi’s to do our own taste-off. We selected two kinds to compare: garlic and butter (which Giovanni’s popularized) and spicy. Lest you think we ate our way through four whole orders, we were able to get half orders of each. G’s will actually make half-orders separately ($6.50 each, as of 2010); Fumi’s charges an extra $1 for the split combination on top of the basic $12 price).

The flavor of the garlic and butter shrimp were very similar. The shrimp were fresh and potent from garlic with a hint of lemon juice. The shrimp at Fumi’s were slightly more buttery (☆☆☆☆), while the prawns were more garlicky at Giovanni’s (☆☆☆½). A virtual draw.

The spicy shrimp was another matter. Giovanni’s version was very disappointing (☆☆). Their “special blend” of hot sauce lacked depth, as if it were a mere combination of chile pepper sauce and vinegar. Add to this the fact that the shrimp were overcooked. On the other hand, Fumi’s spicy shrimp was much more flavorful (☆☆☆☆) from a combination of chile pepper sauce, sriracha and plenty of butter. There was no comparison. The sauce drizzled on rice was to-die-for.

From our point-of-view, the overall experience is better at Fumi’s. Not only do you get as good a product or better at Fumi’s, the crowds are rarely a problem (as it almost always is at G’s) and, for those to whom this is important, it appears cleaner, less grungy. Another extra nicety–at Fumi’s, you get a side of salad and a slice of pineapple. It’s also $1 cheaper for a plate. Our future visits will be to Fumi’s without question. There are two Fumi’s: the shrimp truck and the stand, not far from each other. We ate at the stand.

Giovanni’s
83 Kamehameha Highway
Kahuku, HI 96731
Menu
Fumi’s
56-781 Kamehameha Hwy
Kahuku, HI 96731

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