You may have spotted Wayne’s Sushi Food Truck Boat at the food truck court across from the Costco gas station. Wayne’s Sushi Bar used to be in Haiku, but closed a few years back. It’s one of the best uses of a boat that will no longer float that I’ve seen yet. It’s a real boat–named Fresh Off The Boat–that’s sitting on a real boat trailer, and Wayne Miyahira repurposed it into a food truck.
“I built this all myself,” says Miyahira. “Well, with the help of my brother-in-law. It took about two years to complete.”
The boat contains one of the most pristine kitchens I’ve seen. The kitchen still has the boat’s steering wheel, which is now hanging over the sink. Other features include a deep fryer built out of a rice cooker and a sushi bar fish cooler built right into the side of the boat. Miyahira says it took him and his brother-in-law two years, start to finish. The boat/truck even contains its own waste water system.
“I have water getting tapped in and it goes through a big 55 gallon tank,” he says. “Underneath the boat, I converted the gas tank to a wastewater tank and that drains into those big barrels. This is a full kitchen and I can do everything on the boat, but I still need a place to empty out my water. I can’t empty it on the ground ‘cuz I get fish hands. There’s no oil in our water, we clean everything off before we wash. I don’t want my tank getting caked with grease.”
The boat/truck is sophisticated, but don’t assume that makes Miyahira’s job easy. “At the end of the day, I drive to the kitchen in Wailuku to dump the water, then I have to drive home to Makawao,” he says. “This is not as easy as everyone thinks it is.”
Because he works with fish and dressings, everything needs to be kept at the perfect temperature. There are coolers and lots of refrigeration set up in the kitchen.
“I have been in the business a long time and I’ve never gotten anybody sick,” says Miyahira. “I tell the customer you gotta let me know. I continuously check my temperatures. I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to the food.”
Miyahiro says his setup is great, but it can limit what he sells.
“We used to sell chicken katsu the first couple of months,” says Miyahira. “It was a big seller. Then I said to myself, ‘If I am washing my hands in the sink, that water is going in the tank. What if it contaminates my tank?’ So I eliminated the chicken. Now i just cook shoyu chicken. People say, ‘Oh, you make the best katsu! How come you not making katsu?’ For me, it is not about the money. I cannot take that chance.”
Miyahira moved to Maui in 1985 to open Kobe in Lahaina, but he didn’t work the sushi bar. Instead, he was a teppan chef. Later, he took a job as a chef in Las Vegas. He says everyone would come visit in Vegas, and he spent a lot of time entertaining guests from Hawaii. When he came back to Maui, it was to open his own restaurant in Haiku–Wayne’s Sushi, but he couldn’t cook in that kitchen and had to bring in everything. They closed in 2013. He said he would love to open another restaurant but the food truck boat is keeping him busy for now, having just opened in late February for lunch. As of last week, he’s also open for dinner.
During my visit, I walked the food truck lot with Miyahira, where he moved the truck to a new location. His wife Heidi and son Jesse (the sushi chef) also work on the boat. They decided to move to another spot because the boat was rocking, making Heidi seasick. As I left, they were eyeing a new spot, 50 feet away. They are moving around the lot to find a semi-permanent location that offers better visibility and ease in hooking the boat up to take their menu on the road to events.
The menu has also recently grown. They now have a full selection of plate lunches–shrimp and vegetable tempura, mahi mahi sandwich, tempura mahi, miso walu, ahi belly or combo, all ranging from $8 to $16 and served with rice, spring mix salad and seasoned cucumbers. The menu also offers tempura hamachi, tempura spicy crab, tempura California, tempura spicy tuna rolls and unagi bowls for $9 to $10. The crispy critter roll has shrimp tempura, avo and crab mix for $9. The seafood salad has tuna, salmon, hamachi, walu on spring mix with onions, cashews and wayne’s delicious special dressing.
“I am looking for a commercial kitchen where I can bottle my dressing–the Asian Caucasian Cross Dressing,” says Miyahira. “I have a sense of humor, too.”
His plans for the dressing include a picture of him and Heidi cross-dressed, he adds with a chuckle. They also have a fusion sashimi menu, and a list of Wayne’s special rolls with rolls like the “Hawaii Goes Fishing” (a soft shell crab and spicy tuna mash up with cajun walu and avo) and the “Say Whaaat” (a shrimp tempura, asparagus, avo, crab and tuna roll with creamy, spicy garlic ponzu). Both are $16. He also has eel and jalapeno, baked garlic shrimp and a ‘Wayne-bo roll,” all ranging in price from $7 to $15. You can BYOB at the food truck, and there’s a shaded and covered area with lots of tables and chairs.
His new hours are from Monday to Thursday, 11am to 8pm and Friday/Saturday, 11am to 9pm (he’s closed on Sundays). Call them at 808-281-8810 and visit their Facebook page for specials.