By Jora Dawson
The Mediterranean Grill Food Truck is located along the outskirts of the parking lot at the Haiku Cannery, the one near the Haiku Post Office. Right next to the Mediterranean Grill is another food truck—which serves authentic Indian food—named Satrang.
Between the two food trucks is a string of Christmas lights that enhance the atmosphere and illuminate the five black steel mesh tables that people dine at. The outdoor area is located directly across the parking lot from Haiku Market and is surrounded by several large potted plants. Each table has four chairs, and three tables hold large umbrellas—Haiku is often rainy—that provide protection from the elements.
I walked up to the window of the colorful food truck and was immediately greeted by the smiling face of Salam, one of the Mediterranean Grill’s co-owners—Salam owns the business with his brother Sam. Salam was professional, open with information regarding his business, and exceedingly friendly. I asked him for advice in picking a multi-flavored dish from his food truck and Salam recommended the combo plate, a dish containing seasoned lamb meat (the same used in the gyro sandwich), chicken shawarma, pita bread, hummus, saffron rice, and a colorful salad.
I talked with Salam at length about his business and the food he serves. He explained that he had been active in the restaurant industry for most of his life, Salam proudly mentioned that their business was recently voted No.1 out of 83 food trucks on Maui.
After waiting for maybe five minutes, my food was ready. I accepted my combination plate served in a compostable to-go container and took it to an umbrella table where a patron of Satrang—the neighboring food truck—sat waiting for her food. It was raining that evening in Haiku.
The attractive presentation combined with the mouth-watering aroma only made me more hungry. There was chicken shawarma on one side of the plate and gyro (seasoned lamb) meat—topped with what tasted like a Greek yogurt dill sauce—on the other, both served over a bed of saffron rice and lined with triangular pieces of pita bread. These were complemented by generous servings of hummus and Greek salad.
I bit into the gyro meat and tasted an explosion of exotic flavors as the marinated lamb spread across my palate, the white yogurt sauce decorating the lamb complemented it perfectly. I then sampled the chicken shawarma; it started off sweet, then became salty, the sweet and salty flavors were chased by a delightful herb finisher. The hummus was light in color and creamy, with a rich presence of garlic. If you are a vegetarian or salad lover, you might say I saved the best for last. The Greek salad was beautiful and very delicious: a homemade Greek dressing poured over a bed of romaine lettuce accompanied pickled cabbage and several other vegetable comrades.
I talked to Rick, Salam’s cousin and an employee at the food truck, and he explained how most food items served at the Mediterranean Grill are made fresh. Their Greek salad has over 10 ingredients—romaine lettuce, cucumber, pickled red cabbage, tomato, feta cheese, etc.—and is made from the freshest vegetables. It is served with freshly prepared Greek salad dressing made with olive oil and fresh herbs such as oregano, basil and dill. The meats are marinated the previous day and are seasoned with garlic, cinnamon, lemon juice, olive oil and other flavorful ingredients.
The menu at the Mediterranean Grill makes ordering food there easy. There are several styles of cooked meat and each has a few variations on how it can be ordered—such as a gyro sandwich, gyro salad, or a gyro plate. There is a chicken or lamb shawarma, chicken kabob, beef or lamb kefta, gyro (seasoned lamb) and several side dishes: baba ganoush, hummus, pita bread, dolma and more. The prices are reasonable—averaging around $10 to $12 for a sandwich and between $13 and $15 dollars for a generous salad or a plate—and the quality is top-notch.
My overall experience at the Mediterranean Grill was extremely positive. The food was delicious, the service was wonderful, the setting was kind, there were no crowds (several customers), the food was out quick and the prices were plenty reasonable considering the quality.