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Looking for the Holy Grail of Saimin...

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I've asked this on many message boards and am still searching for that old time Japanese saimin flavor of yesteryear. Old timers will know what I'm talking about. This saimin has that unique recipe which could possibly be the special soup stock or the curly noodles itself. I've tried using bonito and/or shrimp flakes and every kinds of dashi I could find. I tried using kombu (seaweed) and also dried scallops. Not the same. Many of the old mama and papa-sans have passed on and have taken the secret to their graves. Boulevard and Palace Saimin have OK noodles but not the same. Hamura's may come close. Washington Saimin closed down a few years ago along with KC Drive In. What's left? Likelike Drive In serves package saimin from what I was told. Hardly anyone makes their own anymore. Anyone has some good secret places they know of?

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  1. Of course old-time saimin isn't even Japanese, but a Hawaii food based on Japanese ramen. That aside, yeah, I miss Washington Saimin on King Street as well, but in it's last few years they were not using the old recipies either. As popular as Shiro's is, I've never considered it to be exactly authentic either. I still like Boulevard, one of the last of the old style saimin places, and I'm told Palace is really good. Now that 49er fountain in Aiea has re-opened do they serve saimin there? I don't think any of the others, zippy's, columbia inn, like like drive in, etc. have the real stuff either. All the "better" noodle houses serve more "authentic" Japanese style ramen... which I enjoy, but its not saimin.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      On the topic of saimin, even Chinese saimin is different nowadays. I remember the old Tin Tin Restaurant on Maunakea had the best. Used to be their yellow mustard made the difference. It wasn't the old Coleman mustard but some yellow concoction with little black thingies in it (that's how I thought it was back then). But my all time favorite in Kaimuki was at the Old Fong Fong Restaurant on 10th and Waialae and also Tin Heung on Kokohead and Waialae back in the early 60s. I thought they used some sort of soba egg noodles and some sort of chicken/shrimp base soup. I'm just guessing?

    2. Of the Honolulu places, I favor Palace Saimin, Sekiya's and Shige's. The kind of saimin you describe sounds like the old Saimin House when it was near Tamashiro Fish Market on N. King St. I believe the daughter still runs it at the newer location near the Kapalama Post Office, but it doesn't taste the same anymore the couple of times I tried it. Hall Saimin had homemade noodles but that place is long gone too. Unfortunately saimin houses are dying out, a shame really.

      1. I'm no expert (transplanted from mainland in '89) but I liked Boulevard's saimin. I wasn't really impressed with Shiros. Definitely my favorite is Shige's in Wahiawa, and I'm pretty sure they make their own noodles there. Lucky we live in Mililani, its not too much farther to go when we're having cravings.

        1. Just returned from Honolulu and never got to try out any saimin places this time. Only had the fried saimin at Sekiya's but not the soup noodles.Did manage to bring back some Sun Brand saimin purchased at Sam's Club though. I had it the last time at Like Like Drive In and asked them if they used this brand. They said it was the Sun Brand alright. I like this brand the best out of all the packaged saimin.

          1. sekiyas and mr. ojisan.