Bold flavors and playful plates restore a Windward foodie’s confidence in the open-air eatery.
Roll With It: This New Roaming Food Truck Is All About Smoked Meat
Smoke meat burgers, loco mocos and plates: Dem Mata’s menu has all the ways to eat the Mata family’s smoky specialty.
Roll With It is Frolic’s series about new food trucks we’ve seen out and about. We’re tracking them down and trying dishes to bring you the 4-1-1.
The Mata family knows how locals like to eat. Dem Mata’s, their food truck, is all about savory, salty smoked meat and its variations, including heaping loco mocos with rivers of brown gravy, creamy mac salad just like grandma used to make (it really is their grandmother’s recipe) and smoked meat-infused burgers piled with sautéed onions, garlic aioli and teriyaki sauce.
New to the food truck scene, Dem Mata’s is run by by Mahea and Nate Mata with help from their kids, Tehani and Derek. The truck rolled out in February near the family’s home in Palolo, setting up shop at Palolo Valley District Park before branching into the Diamond Head and Koko Head neighborhoods. The black truck, a 15-foot passenger van that’s been gutted and outfitted with shiny kitchen equipment, is easy to spot.
Sometimes there are soup pop-ups (think chicken papaya or Portuguese bean soup); on Aloha Friday you might find a combo plate with homemade lau lau, smoked meat and onions, two scoops rice and a cup of sweet potato mac salad.
At a glance:
First off, at this truck it’s always smoke meat, never smoked meat. The regular menu is small, but there are specials and experimental dishes on a rotating basis. “This is the first time we’ve tried something like this and we don’t want to be overwhelmed,” said Mahea. “That’s why we only have four items right now. We have lots of other recipes that we want to incorporate, we just haven’t done it yet.”
- Valley Burger combo, $11 with chips and a drink. Little cubes of smoked meat are infused into the burger patty, giving it a savory, smoky flavor that, mixed with teriyaki, makes you scarf it down before you know it. Not surprisingly, this is the best-seller.
- Palolo Loco, $12. Available with fried or white rice, it’s a generous, flavorful mound of food to sate any appetite.
How It Rolls
Note that locations, menu items and days may change, so be sure to check their Instagram before heading out.
- Where: Palolo Valley District Park, Fort Ruger Park by Diamond Head or Koko Head Neighborhood Park
- When: Check Instagram for the latest
- Preorders: Walk-ups only for now
- Payment: Cash or credit card
- Follow: @dem.matas