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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Many Islanders—and many Hollywood stars—got their first taste of pad thai noodles, lemongrass, and coconut milk curry at one of Keo Sananikone's restaurants. This one, perched right at the entrance to Waikiki, characterizes his formula: a bright, clean space awash in flowers with intriguing menu titles and reasonable prices. Evil Jungle Prince, a stir-fry redolent of Thai basil, flecked with chilis and rich with coconut milk, is a classic; also try the apple bananas (smaller, sweeter variety of banana) in coconut milk. The Eastern and Western breakfasts are popular. keosthaicuisine.com. Credit cards accepted.
Known for Copper River salmon in season, consistently well-made salads and seafood specials, efficient service, and appropriate pricing, Kincaid's, part of a wide-ranging albeit small chain, is business-lunch central. But, with its window-fronted room overlooking Kewalo Basin harbor, it's also a relaxing place for a postshopping drink or intimate dinner. They're known for their early or late night happy hours, which is a great way to sample more of their dishes. kincaids.com. Credit cards accepted.
When you're sightseeing between Hanauma Bay and Makapuu, the food pickings are slim. But every day, 365 days a year, there's Keneke's in Waimanalo town. It's the home of inexpensive plate lunches, shave ice, and Scriptural graffiti on the walls (Keith "Keneke" Ward, the burly, weight-lifting, second-generation owner of the place, is a born-again Christian). The food is diet busting, piled high, and mostly pretty good, particularly the Asian-style barbecue (including teriyaki chicken or beef and Korean kal bi (barbecue), and Filipino guisantes (pork and peas in tomato gravy) and adobo (piquant pork stew). If you want a treat, try the shave ice with ice cream. There is also a location in Punaluu on the Windward side of the island. www.kenekes.net. Reservations not accepted.
Rarely do you find a café that serves as a wine bar, breakfast spot, gourmet takeout deli, tapas bar, and restaurant with a wide variety of Mediterranean entrées, but owner Don Dymond of Kalapawai Café and Deli has established just that with this green-and-white landmark that is a central meeting spot for Windward residents. Come in on your way to the beach for a cup of coffee and bagel, stop back for a gourmet sandwich or salad at lunchtime. Happy-hour tapas plates include hummus and flat bread or figs wrapped in bacon. All dinner entrées have suggested wine pairings. www.kalapawaimarket.com. Reservations not accepted. Credit cards accepted.
Russell Siu was the first of the local-boy fine dining chefs to open a place of the sort he enjoys when he's off-duty, serving high-quality plate lunches (house-made sauce instead of from-a-mix brown gravy, for example). Here you can get your two scoops of either brown or white rice, green salad instead of the usual macaroni salad, grilled fresh fish specials, and vegetarian fare. Breakfast is especially good, with combos like corned-beef hash and eggs, and exceptional baked goods. kakaakokitchen.com. Reservations not accepted. Credit cards accepted.
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