When in Hawaii eat SAIMIN

I learned something from my children yesterday after they asked me to take them to eat SAIMIN. I walked them over to a nearby DAIICHI Noodle, which to me serves noodles, ramen, saimin or whatever you call it.

As we enter the place, my son tells me – “Mom, this is not SAIMIN”, as he stared at the walls plastered with beautiful photos of RAMEN. “I don’t want to eat here”, he says. I’m surprised by his reaction and tell him “this is SAIMIN”! My daughter then says, “No, it doesn’t have SPAM and FISHCAKE on the pictures”!

Wow, I was impressed. So we walked back home, jumped into the car and drove to FORTY NINERS, a small family owned diner that has been running since 1947. My sons says, “Yes, Mom here is where you get SAIMIN”! (Obviously, their grandma and grandpa take them here often).  I order 2 small SAIMIN’s and watched them delightfully eat their noodles.


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Jaf decides to take all of the fish cake and onions out of the bowl first, blowing and using his fork carefully as not to burn himself from the steaming hot broth.

Lou Lou, takes all of the noodles out of the bowl, transfers it to an empty bowl avoiding the broth entirely and eating it all up like a bowl full of spaghetti

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“Mom, this is our favorite”, says Jaf and pats me on the head.  Dinner is served everyone… 🙂


Good for Kids, No Credit Cards, Outdoor Seating Available

* Keep saimin bowl in the middle of the table before serving to let cool (5 minutes) before letting children eat them. Gently lift noodles with a fork to allow the noodles and broth to cool before serving.


In “ramen”, the “men” part is “noodle” and the whole word possibly related to Chinese “lo mein”.  (Especially when you remember that Chinese doesn’t distinguish between “r” and “l”.)  Ramen a very generic term, and can refer to any noodles in broth.  You also see the “mein” root in “chow mein”.

Saimin is the Hawaiian version of that (though they get it from the Chinese rather than the Japanese).  “Sai” means “thin”, and “saimin” refers to the thin noodles in the dish.  The Hawaiians inherited the dish from the Chinese.  It uses a dashi broth (similar to the basis of miso soup, only without the miso [fermented bean paste]).

That’s the basis of the soup, to which you add anything you like, but especially green onions, bok choy, and Spam.Sources: http://starbulletin.com/97/09/10/features/story1.html

2 thoughts on “When in Hawaii eat SAIMIN

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