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20 for $20: You and your wallet can leave full

October 21, 2007|Rosemary McClure | Times Staff Writer

This tiny takeout or eat-in Chinese cookery is behind the International Marketplace, an easy-to-reach location for the Waikiki tourist set. Tourists often miss it, but locals don't. They line up for the Cantonese stir-fry that's cooked as they watch. The restaurant, which has been in the same location below the Miramar Hotel for 27 years, has nine plastic chairs outside and 11 stools at its well-worn counter inside. Among the popular dishes are chicken and mushroom stir fry, beef curry over rice and a sea bass plate.

We loved . . . watching the food being prepared and cooked in a wok.

We didn't love . . . being told to come back later in the day for sea bass. When we did, we were told there was no sea bass that day.

Fatty's Chinese Kitchen, Miramar at Waikiki, 2345 Kuhio Ave.; (808) 922-9600.

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MAC 24-7

Price: $12 to $28

In the mood for a big meal? Perhaps some sumo-sized pancakes or maybe a tureen of the Japanese soup saimin? Take a seat at MAC 24-7, a new Waikiki restaurant in the Hilton Prince Kuhio Hotel. Any time of day or night, diners find a diverse, well-priced menu with some special XXL offerings. Choose Mac Daddy pancakes ($12) in combinations such as banana, walnut and chocolate chunk or the Elvis, peanut butter and bacon. The flapjacks are bigger than a dinner plate. In the mood for pasta? Order the white cheddar mac and cheese ($12).

We loved . . . the sweet and smoky pulled pork kalua sandwich ($12) and the "killer" cupcakes (our favorite was the warm macadamia nut bread pudding cupcake for $6.)

We didn't love . . . that the three meals we ordered arrived at different times.

MAC 24-7, 2500 Kuhio Ave.; (808) 922-0811, www.mac247waikiki.com.

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LuLu's

Prices: $8.99 to $23.95

The surf's always up at LuLu's, which has a five-star view of Waikiki Beach and its wave action. The casual, open-air diner has an unobstructed second-floor view of the beach. Counters along the beach-facing walls allow customers to belly up to a bar and watch the surf. The restaurant is cute, with knotty-pine paneling, surfboards and outrigger paddles decorating the walls. It's open 22 hours daily. Burgers are the specialty; try the Magnum P.I. with bacon, cheddar and guacamole ($9.95).

We loved . . . the view: palm trees swaying in the breeze, with brilliant blue sky above and blue water below.

We didn't love . . . the food, which is average. But the view and ambience may make up for it.

LuLu's Waikiki, 2586 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu; (808) 926-5222, www.luluswaikiki.com.

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Diamond Head Market & Grill

Price: Sandwiches about $6

Five minutes from Waikiki, you'll find one-stop shopping at Kelvin Ro's Diamond Head Market & Grill. It's a great place to pick up a picnic lunch. Choose among gourmet takeout, healthful plate lunches, deli foods or fresh-from-the-oven blueberry and cream-cheese scones ($2.40). Among the terrific sandwiches are grilled portabello ($5.25) and turkey with cranberry chutney ($6.50). Ro says, "My real job is as an instructor at a culinary college," but part of his job is making some of Hawaii's traditional foods more healthful.

We loved . . . the scones, the portabellos, the gourmet boxed sandwiches and salads.

We didn't love . . . that the only seating available was in the sun, so eating on-site wasn't very pleasant.

Diamond Head Market & Grill: 3158 Monsarrat Ave., Honolulu; (808) 732-0077, www.diamondheadmarket.com.

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Farmers Open Market

Step right up to the produce stand: The state's best farmers market takes place from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Saturdays at Kapiolani Community College, on the back side of Diamond Head Crater (a 10-minute drive from Waikiki). You don't need access to a kitchen to appreciate the bounty here. The booths include many stocked with prepared foods. On the Saturday morning we visited, we ogled blue lotus oxtail soup ($5), garlic shrimp "scampi" ($7), a beef curry bento box ($6) and ended with a blueberry bread pudding with vanilla sauce ($3).

We loved . . . becoming a part of this colorful community event.

We didn't love . . . trying to find a parking place.

Farmers Open Market, 4303 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu.

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North Shore shrimp trucks

Prices: $8 to $11

Cast a wide net for lunch or dinner the next time you drive to Oahu's North Shore. Scattered along Kamehameha Highway, from Haleiwa to Kahuku, are trucks selling barbecued shrimp, chicken and steak plates, most served Hawaiian plate-lunch style, with steamed white rice and salad. One of the first of the dozen or so trucks you'll encounter is Big Wave Shrimp Co., where a billboard of a surfboard-riding cartoon shrimp welcomes customers. You may run into the crew of the TV show "Lost" here; they film nearby and drop in occasionally for lunch. Several more shrimp trucks, some of them converted RVs, can be found past Turtle Bay Resort, including Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp, one of the best known. It's at 59-565 Kamehameha Highway.

We loved . . . the convenience and price.

We didn't love . . . the flies that wanted to share our lunch.

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