There’s been lots of excitement for foodies in the Iwilei area lately, with the recent opening of Liliha Bakery II and its nextdoor neighbor Manapua & More!. Adding to that, just down the street in Hilo Hattie’s side parking lot is the also recent arrival of Cooking Fresh for You Lunch Truck. This is their mobile outlet, while Cooking FRESH also has two Cafes in the Queen’s Medical Center Physicians Office Building I and POB II.
According to Cooking FRESH owner and chef, Michi, “Using the freshest ingredients and eliminating unnecessary fats and processed foods – finally a healthy alternative that proves that healthy food can taste great! My pledge: to prepare delicious, healthy food made with fresh, quality ingredients that everyone will enjoy and savor.
It’s that simple. I love food and I love to create food that others can enjoy and feel good about. It’s my passion and my gift to you – enjoy!”
Sounds fantastic. Let’s check out the Cooking Fresh lunch truck menu for yesterday…
Hey, who’s that handsome bald guy in the reflection? lol
I ended up ordering every dish on the menu, I was that hungry. Kidding, however I do have an example of everything listed on this visit to share with you except the Pork Pasole Central American Stew.
Nice touch offering a self service condiment station. The sauce in the squeeze bottle with tape is Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (Mae Ploy). Also bonus points for offering better quality bamboo chopsticks, not the cheap pine chopsticks.
Back at the office lunch room for “the reveal”…
Aaahhhh… oooooohhh… ahhhhhh. Here we have Diner E’s Pan-seared Steak with Basil Pesto mini plate for $7, Diner MT’s Baked Chicken with Teriyaki Glaze & Pineapple Salsa mini for $6, and Diner P’s (Yours Truly) Thai Green Curry with Tofu mini for $6. Good deal for fresh, high quality ingredients, including top shelf, healthy-yet-tasty Gen-Ji-Mai rice!
Back at the truck, for $9, here’s how the Pan-seared Steak with Basil Pesto regular plate looks…
Dang that plate looks ono. Never thought of pairing steak with pesto.
While we’re at it, let’s take a closer look at Diner E’s Pan-seared Steak mini plate…
And? Winnahz! While I didn’t get his name, the Cooking Fresh lunch truck cook “dude” said it’s choice grade Tri-Tip Beef, seasoned simply with garlic salt and black pepper. With that, it’s seasoned perfectly, having just enough salt to punch out the flavor of the beef.
The best part is how well the basil, garlic, parmesan and EVOO in the pesto really enhances the flavor of the seared steak… terrific combination! Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E gives it a solid 3 SPAM Musubi (that would be 4 or 5 to you and I).
Next let’s check out Diner MT’s Baked Chicken with Teriyaki & Pineapple Salsa…
And? She gives it 4 out of 5 stars by Yelp standards, noting “The salad is fresh and crisp, as advertised, dressing is delicious, the chicken is reasonably moist as far lunch trucks go, and pairs well with the pineapple salsa with the teriyaki sauce. The mini plate portion is also perfect.”
Finally let’s try my Thai Green Curry with Tofu…
Very subtle curry and coconut milk flavor. Too subtle. It could definitely use more flavor of both. There’s certainly a “sleeper” hit of hot chili peppers that kicks in a few seconds after each bite. I also taste lemon grass, giving it that signature “Thai” flavor profile. The “meat” of it are tender eggplant slices and green bell peppers, which are A-OK with me, as those are two of my favorite vegetables. If there were sauteed mushrooms in here that would have been even awesome-er.
There’s a chicken version of this curry, which surely must have more flavor, however I’m trying to remain strict on my pescetarian diet again and opted for the Thai Green Curry with Tofu.
The Gen-Ji-Mai rice it’s served on really made a difference with its fluffy texture and ever-so-slight nutty flavor, having a similar enhancing effect as if it were Jasmine Rice.
The gal serving said normally the curry mini plate is all curry and rice, however I requested to put a salad on the side and less curry and rice, no extra charge. Which turned out a great call, as I enjoyed the salad as much if not more than the curry, as the locally farmed mixed greens were crispy ‘n fresh, drizzled adequately with Michi’s house Miso Dressing, which is the bomb! It reminds a little of the Angelo Pietro dressing to give you an idea how it tastes. You can definitely taste the miso, along with a nicely balanced sweet ‘n tangy vinaigrette carrying it.
Summing up Cooking Fresh’ Thai Green Curry with Tofu, I give it 3 SPAM Musubi, with the excellent Gen-Ji-Mai rice and totally awesome tossed green salad with house Miso dressing scoring huge points.
On a previous visit to the Cooking Fresh for You Lunch Truck (menu above has other offerings), Diner E tried the Cooking Fresh Turkey Meatloaf with Asian BBQ Sauce….
Diner E also really enjoyed this, noting the meatloaf was moist and tasty, while the Asian BBQ sauce added a unique personality to it vs. your standard ketchup. Overall 3 SPAM Musubi for the Turkey Meatloaf a 4 or 5 to you and I).
Also on another previous visit, another Diner IW tried their Basil Eggplant with Chicken mini, again for just $6…
While she couldn’t pinpoint what kind of sauce it’s sauteed with (she’s not a hardcore foodie), she really LOVED this dish, giving it a resounding 5 Yelp stars. Looking at it, I’m going to guess it’s simply sauteed eggplant and onions coated generously with Cooking Fresh’ most excellent house Pesto that was amazing with the Pan-seared Steak. I’ll try this one next time for sure.
Finally, also on another day, Diner IW tried the Pork Spareribs with Guava BBQ Glaze…
That’s easily over half a rack of spareribs, plus a generous helping of Gen-Ji-Mai rice, locally farmed tossed greens and half a sliced fresh orange… all for just $8! Sweet!
I was given a small piece to sample, where I’ll say the ribs definitely taste baked, not grilled, yet they were still supah onolicious, while being fall-off-rib bone moist ‘n tender. The tasty Guava BBQ Sauce a had smokey ‘n fruity flavor with a nice balance of sweet ‘n tangy going on, where If this were my plate, I’d ask them to drizzle extra sauce. Diner IW gave this one another gleaming 5 stars, especially when factoring in value, which it is, indeed!
Not being a coincidence their lunch truck is here, Cooking Fresh for You will soon be taking over the deli inside Hilo Hattie that originally began as Kona Bean Cafe. Also again, they have two Cafes in the Queen’s Medical Center Physicians Office Buildings.
Cooking Fresh for You – Lunch Truck
Hilo Hattie side parking lot
700 N. Nimitz Hwy.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Tel. (808) 286-6484
The Tasty Island rating:
(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)