HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Saimin is a local favourite. In fact, it is unique to Hawaii.
Considered the perfect comfort food, saimin dates back to the age of farms, when Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Hawaiian workers brought their own ingredients and collaborated on a quick and easy meal.
While ramen noodles are made from wheat flour, semen is made from wheat flour and eggs.
The word is derived from the Chinese words “sai” or “fluffy”, and “min” meaning noodles.
There are many saimin locations across the state, but Hawaii News Now has compiled a list of some must-try places that have been a mainstay in the community for decades.
Far away in Kalihi, Palace Saimin has been a favorite place to go for decades. According to its website, a young Okinawan businessman named Kame Ige opened the restaurant in 1946 and named it “Palace Theater” on the corner of Keeaumoku and Beretania Streets. Later I moved the restaurant to Kalihi, where it ended up in its current location. It’s easy to miss, but those who crave saimin will know where to find it.
1256 N King Street; Honolulu, HI 96817
This family favorite has been attracting people from all over the place for over 50 years. Shiro Saimin Haven Restaurant was opened by Franz Shiro Matsu, the founder, in 1969, with the goal of serving comfort food to hard-working people. According to his website, “He wanted to have a place where people could enjoy good food while forgetting about the stress in their lives.” In 1990, he transferred the restaurant to his daughter, who had been working in the company for years. They continued to keep the business in the family because some of her sons now have a hand in the business. Its menu includes dozens of different types of simian – all freshly made in their own factory – and made in-house.
98-020 Rapid Kamehameha; Ayed Muhammad Asiri. 96701
919 Fort Weaver Road; Ewa Beach, HI 96706
Unlike its Oahu saimin counterparts, Shige Restaurant is a fairly new restaurant – established in 1990. But still it is sure to satisfy every saimin lover’s craving. It is a family owned and operated business that is known for its unique noodles and burgers. They make their own noodles in-house, using a machine, so they’re flatter and not like regular wrinkled Simin’s noodles. It is located in Wahiawa, off the Kamehameha Highway and across the street from Zippy’s. And a fun fact: when the restaurant first opened, it was only open at night. Now, the restaurant is open from 10 am to 10 pm
70 Cocoy Street; Muhammad Awad Ali Asiri 96786
When it comes to famous restaurants on Kauai, Hamura Saimin Stand ranks high on the list. And for every visitor or resident, a quick stop is a must due to its close proximity to Lihue Airport. Charles and Iko Hamura opened the restaurant in 1952, but it was later handed over to the granddaughter of Lori Tanigawa. The list is short and sweet. It’s mostly saimin – plain and simple – with a little extra stuff. Generations have come through this little shop to make it a mainstay on Kauai.
2956 Chris Street; Ahmed Mohamed Ali 96766
Sam Sato has been a Maui comfort food for decades—since its inception in 1933. According to Hawaii Magazine, Sam Sato—a second-generation Japanese-American farm worker—and his wife Gladys opened this small restaurant in Spreckelsville. He eventually made his way to his current location in Wailuku decades later. It is famous for its famous dry taste, as “dry” refers to the dish without soup.
1750 Wili Pa Loop; Muhammad Awad Abdullah Al-Owaidi 96793
- Nori Saimin and snacks
In 1983, BethAn Nishijima Nori opened Saimin and Snacks in Hilo. Nishijima told Hawaiian Magazine a few years ago that Saimin was one of her favorite foods and brought back childhood memories of eating Saimin from paper cups. Although it started out primarily as a Simon’s place, the restaurant has evolved to include a variety of other local foods.
688 Kenol Street, Suite 124; Abdul Latif Jameel 96720
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