by Holly Madrigal
When the grey days of winter seem to stretch on and on, head to Garberville for a warm breath of the tropics. The Pineapple Express food truck is dishing up authentic and delicious Hawaiian fare to rave reviews. I caught up with owner, Codi Nishimoto, to ask how she got her start.
Born and raised on Oahu, near Pearl Harbor, Codi traveled to Humboldt State to study forestry. While at Humboldt, she started cooking recipes that she missed from home. “When I got home to Hawaii, Shoyu Chicken was the first thing I ate, as soon as I got off the plane, it’s like my favorite dish. So before I really got into cooking, I forced myself to make it because I missed it so much in college,” Codi laughs. “It is slow simmered, fall-apart tender, really simple but just a real comfort good, good dish.”
Codi became really passionate about cooking and traveled back to Hawaii to train under a master chef there. The food scene in Hawaii is really taking off, with many chefs embracing traditional dishes made with fresh local ingredients. When work and family brought Codi back from Hawaii to the Garberville area, she decided to dive in with a food truck to offer a different type of dining option. The Pineapple Express opened last year in a spot across from Ray’s Market in Garberville.
Drawn in by the colorful sandwich boards promising Hawaiian Plate Lunch, I found a turquoise food truck emblazoned with a giant pineapple on the side. Great music filled the air as patrons sat at sun-filled tables. The hardest part was picking a main dish: Shoyu Chicken, Garlic Chicken, Furikake Crispy Cod, Kalua Pork? It is all divine. It comes with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad (yes, this is the standard side dish on the islands and how I knew this place was legit) or fresh green salad.
Adding culinary twists to the traditional Hawaiian food she loves elevates the offerings at Pineapple Express from what you might expect from a humble food truck. Their Furikake Fries are created using a namesake Japanese seasoning that is full of delicious umami flavor. The fries come with two homemade sauces—Sweet Chili Aioli and Hawaiian BBQ Sauce. Traditional Poke is transformed into Poke Nachos, flash fried, atop ethereal wonton chips. “They have the best shave ice around!” says a friend, when I tell her we are doing a story on Pineapple Express. Codi tells me they ordered a special machine from Japan. “The ice is light, fluffy and delicate instead of crunchy” she adds. This tropical dessert staple is available, along with other pupus (appetizers) and specials like the Loco Moco Sammy or Poke-stuffed Squash Blossoms to tempt your palate.
Word has spread about Pineapple Express, and they have branched out to events and parties. They have brought their “Ono grinds,” Hawaiian for super good, soul nourishing food, to the “Calling All Spirits” bash in Old Town Eureka and the KMUD Summer Music Series in Garberville. Let them know if you are interested in bringing some aloha to your next event.
I couldn’t repress my smile as I sat down with my steaming plate of Furikake Crispy Cod (had to choose!), creamy mac salad and rice. Pineapple is the international symbol for “welcome,” and this food truck is true to its name. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel those tropical breezes right here in Northern California.
Pineapple Express Hawaiian Plate Lunch
900 Redwood Dr, Garberville, CA 95542
(808) 387-6101 | Facebook.com/PineappleExpressFoodTruck