For Kawika Asam, serving food isn’t about business – it’s about family.
Asam moved to Eugene from Hawaii in 2007 and graduated from the University of Oregon in 2012. He decided to continue living in Eugene after graduation but still missed the food from home. His parents worked for a catering business in Hawaii, so after Asam and his partner, Hazel Balilea, had a child in 2013, Asam invited his parents to help run a food truck in Eugene.
Everyday Kine Grindz From Hawaii was running about a week after his parents moved to the area.
“Mom does a lot of cooking of the specials, Hazel does the cashier and I’m kind of in the middle of everything,” Asam said. “We all run it together.”
The truck was originally located at 7th Avenue and Chambers Street, but moved to 19th Avenue and Agate Street in August 2015. It’s open Wednesday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Asam said it upset him when he came to Eugene and saw foods being labeled as Hawaiian just because they had teriyaki sauce on them. The foods at his truck are marinated instead of drenched in sauces.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere and serve food like we do the real way,” Asam said. “I wouldn’t even call it ‘authentic.’ Nobody’s authentic. To me it’s just the way of cooking and the way we serve our food that separates us.”
The truck offers kalua pork, teriyaki chicken and chocolate mochi ice cream, among other things. There are also specials that change daily.
Kalanihano Nakakura, a UO sophomore from Hawaii, discovered the truck her first week of freshman year. She said it is one of the only places in Eugene that serves local Hawaiian food and that the employees are personable.
“They know what it’s like to be away from home, so they definitely create a sense of home away from home when you’re at the food truck,” Nakakura said. “There’s always something to talk about with them.”
Aside from serving food a few days a week, Everyday Kine Grindz from Hawaii also caters for UO events including Japan Night and the Hawaii Club’s annual luau. The truck can also usually be found at the ASUO Street Faire, which is held on campus fall and spring term.
Asam said that after attending UO, he’s happy to give back to students and the community through his food truck.
Balilea added that the family’s positive vibe also makes the truck worth visiting.
“We do a lot of our cooking with a lot of Aloha: a lot of love,” she said. “We put a lot of care and passion into our cooking. We love to do it for the people and make people happy.”