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Thread: Old Time Saimin Places

  1. #1

    Default Old Time Saimin Places

    As as expat kamaaina, whenever my wife and I go back to Honolulu, we spend a lot of time eating the foods that we miss. Not only going to the local food restaurants, but even going to Chinatown and getting roast pork, char siu, etc. and just going to the park to eat lunch. We also like the old time saimin places, like where use we used to go to many, many years ago, just before I took my wife home after a date. I saw in the Metromix edition yesterday, some info on old time saimin places that I thought were gone -- like Palace saimin and the old saimin stand that used to be next to Tamashiro market. Now I know that I can go eat at those places at their current location. But I got one question -- whatever happened to Washington Saimin, that used to be on King Street near Washington Intermediate School? Any other places that people think are good? My wife liked to place in Kaimuki (just DH/Mauka of 10th Ave.) but I thought they were expensive.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    My first exposure to saimin was in July, 1967 at the Kaunakakai Dairy Queen. World's best saimin? I doubt it, but it will always be a special place to me.
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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    How ironic you bring this subject up. The Honolulu Advertiser's 'Metromix' just published a new foodie feature this week titled "Who makes the best saimin?"

    The places they included in this "saimin showdown" include:
    • Old Saimin House
    • Shiro's Saimin Haven
    • Palace Saimin
    • Shige's Saimin Stand
    • Boulevard Saimin
    • Nakai Saimin
    • New Violet's Grill

    While I myself have yet to dine at more than half of these places, I think the place (more particularly the DISH) they chose as 'Best Saimin' was rather unfair. It's akin to choosing a Mustang Shelby GT500 as the winner over a bare bones V-6 Camaro.

    See for yourself what the verdict was by checking out that link.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    I think Nakai's, Boulevard, and Shige's are the three best on that list, giving a nod to Nakai's of the three. Boulevard is on Dillingham across Mickey D's, Shige's in Wahiawa across from Zippy's, and Nakai's on Nuuanu across from Hosoi Mortuary.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Shiro's sucks.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Expat Kamaaina View Post
    But I got one question -- whatever happened to Washington Saimin, that used to be on King Street near Washington Intermediate School?
    This Advertiser article tells the story behind the closing of Washington Saimin.

    Quote Originally Posted by scrivener View Post
    Shiro's sucks.
    I wouldn't say that. Shiro's saimin is overrated, but it's not bad, either. (Their Hula Burger, OTOH. Superb!)

    For my taste, it's Palace Saimin, all the way. If Palace is busy, then off to Boulevard I go.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places (can't leave out Zippy's!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener
    Shiro's sucks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie's Market View Post
    I wouldn't say that. Shiro's saimin is overrated, but it's not bad, either.
    FM, I think the same is often said about Zippy's, who are as overrated as it gets (including by myself).

    However, I have to admit, speaking of Zippy's, recently having a bowl after not doing so in like AGES (because I've always written it off as being overrated), I'm highly impressed with their venerable 'Zip Min'. That is one MEAN bowl of Saimin, and I think should have been in contention to WIN that Metromix 'Best Saimin' shootout. Especially if they were qualifying "souped-up" saimin variations as contenders like they did with the one that won.



    Just look at that beauty! Perfectly al dente saimin noodles, wun tun, breaded shrimp, choi sum, kamaboko, nori, egg, charsiu and green onion. All in what tastes like a custom broth Zippy's makes that's "deeper" than just dashi and shoyu. I definitely taste some sort of shellfish stock in it. The broth's got a wonderfully-complex yet simple flavor going on if you know what I mean.

    Then you dip da' saimin broth-bathed and soaked wun tun, breaded shrimp, charsiu and choi sum in da' accompanying shoyu and hot mustard sauce, and hoooo, broke da' mout'!

    Like their also overrated Zip Pac, gotta' say, Zippy's Zip Min DELIVERS THE GOODS in a simple yet magical combination of local favorites coming together as one.

    Man, just talking about and looking at it, I think I'll have a Zip Min for lunch today!
    Last edited by Pomai; February 10th, 2010 at 09:18 AM. Reason: I sneezed while eating saimin

  8. #8

    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    I have many fond memories of WASHINGTON SAIMIN STAND, though not necessarily of "saimin." We went there for a midnight snack of PORK CHOPS. Hard to beat the price back then (40 years ago) of $1.00, especially for UH students.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    I left a comment (with a really embarrassing spelling error) on that review, saying that you really can't leave out Aloha Stadium or McD's, two places where the saimin's not great but the memories are fond. Who hasn't loved a wonderfully overpriced, plastic cup of hot, just-add-water saimin at the stadium on a cold, rainy day? Those are some of the best saimin experiences I've ever had.

    As for McD's, if you were visiting somewhere and found that the McD's served something available only at restaurants in that state, wouldn't you be curious enough to try it? I'd be.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Pomai View Post
    How ironic you bring this subject up. The Honolulu Advertiser's 'Metromix' just published a new foodie feature this week titled "Who makes the best saimin?"

    The places they included in this "saimin showdown" include:
    • Old Saimin House
    • Shiro's Saimin Haven
    • Palace Saimin
    • Shige's Saimin Stand
    • Boulevard Saimin
    • Nakai Saimin
    • New Violet's Grill
    They probably should have added Sekiya's to that list of contenders.

    Violet's was the top rated one, eh? A bit of a surprise for me. I admit that I haven't eaten saimin there in ages, not since I was a little kid, probably. If I go to Violet's, it's usually for the oxtail, champuru, or tempura. But then again, if I do go there, it's almost always for dinner nowadays. Maybe I should go during lunchtime and see if their saimin lives up to this hype.
    Last edited by Frankie's Market; February 10th, 2010 at 09:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Living in Mayor Wright's, we frequented the numerous saimin stands right around Aala Park on both sides of Beretania. Hall Street Saimin was pretty good, too. 25 cents saimin, 10 cents BBQ sticks, etc.

    Palace is still my favorite. During my 2009 trips home, I remember getting the shakes in the evening when I hit Palace and they were closed.

    Unless memory fails, wasn't Washington Saimin on King Street (makai side) half a block Diamond Head from McKinley? With its name, maybe they had moved from a location nearer Washington Intermediate.
    Born in Hawaii, too - Truss me

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie's Market View Post
    They probably should have added Sekiya's to that list of contenders.

    Violet's was the top rated one, eh? A bit of a surprise for me. [------] Maybe I should go during lunchtime and see if their saimin lives up to this hype.
    Be prepared to dig deep in your pocket for Violet's Oxtail Saimin, which currently runs at $14.75 a bowl. Ouch. For that price, it better be the best! I gotta' say though, NVG's Okinawan Pig's Feet Soup (Ashitibichi) ROCKS!

    Don't know about Sekiya's, but they also should have visited Forty Niner Restaurant in Aiea (on Kamehameha highway, just before Pearlridge heading Ewa)...



    ...who are also known for their own signature saimin, care of the former owners, the Chagami family. Here's a take-out example of their current offering, which the new owner says the broth continues to be brewed by Mr. Chagami...

    Last edited by Pomai; February 10th, 2010 at 07:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Living on Kauai, I get to frequent Hamura's Saimin often.

    When on Oahu, I love getting saimin from Like Like Drive-In. Very underrated.
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    When I was growing up, my favorite saimin place was Boulevard Saimin. Large won ton mein, with two barbeque sticks. Can’t go wrong with that. (Pomai, I grew up in Aiea and went to Forty Niners a lot, but amazingly, I don’t think I ever had their saimin. However, I do believe they should have been considered in this survey.)

    On another note, I haven’t eaten at a saimin stand in years. Now days, I usually eat ramen. But back then, there was ONLY saimin. I had never heard of ramen when I was growing up. That came later, probably sometime during the 1980s. The first ramen restaurant I remember was the one on Pensacola and King (now gone) near McKinley High School, which was just a couple of shops down from Washington Saimin (also gone). When I tasted that first ramen, I was hooked. But sometimes, I still nostalgically crave the simplicity of saimin. I usually satisfy this craving with frozen saimin. But it’s just not the same.

    Scrivener mentions saimin at Aloha Stadium. I remember saimin at the old Honolulu Stadium in McCully. The saimin concession, which resembled the concession stand you’d find at bon dances, were located under the wooden bleachers. Returning to your seat, you had to navigate the shower of peanut shells raining down on you. Those are indeed warm memories.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places: Boulevard Saimin

    Quote Originally Posted by Honoruru View Post
    When I was growing up, my favorite saimin place was Boulevard Saimin. Large won ton mein, with two barbeque sticks. Can’t go wrong with that.
    Great place. You folks are probably already aware that Boulevard Saimin will be moving into the former Weyerhaeuser location on the corner of Alakawa (Best Buy, Home Depot, Costco) and Nimitz highway, where Ba-Le Bakery will set up (a massive) shop.

    Here's Boulevard Saimin's (Custom Teriyaki) Burger and Small Saimin Combo ($8.75)...



    And here's Boulevard Saimin's Large Saimin Combo ($8.70)...



    Yes, you do get ALL THAT for under $9 bucks!

    What's interesting to note is that Metromix mentioned Boulevard Saimin uses Chow Mein noodles. Really? Looks like "regular" saimin noodles to me...

    Last edited by Pomai; February 10th, 2010 at 08:23 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Do local high school carnivals still sell saimin?

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk View Post
    Do local high school carnivals still sell saimin?
    from my experience in the past couple years, yes...and it's usually S&S.
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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places: Hamura's

    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk
    Do local high school carnivals still sell saimin?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Lowery
    from my experience in the past couple years, yes...and it's usually S&S.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Lowery
    Living on Kauai, I get to frequent Hamura's Saimin often.
    What stood out the most on my visit at Hamura's Saimin on Kauai was the really old school feel and nostalgia of the place itself. Especially the community style seating, plus da' Chili Peppah watah on da' table, along with other local families sitting beside us arguing with each other on what to order, while ourselves (and other tourists) watch on. Very, ehem, entertaining!

    But certainly NOT the saimin (nor teriyaki stick), which I personally thought tasted rather back-to-basics, and not much better than what I can get from the store from S&S Saimin (Sun Noodle), honestly speaking. Nothing wrong with that, but just sayin'.

    What other Saimin shops are available on Kauai? Just curious, as it seems Hamura's is the only game in (Lihue) town (or on the island for that matter). Especially in how the place is promoted in tourist-focused advertising on Kauai.
    Last edited by Pomai; February 10th, 2010 at 09:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places: Hamura's

    Quote Originally Posted by Pomai View Post
    What stood out the most on my visit at Hamura's Saimin on Kauai was the really old school feel and nostalgia of the place itself. Especially the community style seating, plus da' Chili Peppah watah on da' table, along with other local families sitting beside us arguing with each other on what to order, while ourselves (and other tourists) watch on. Very, ehem, entertaining!

    But certainly NOT the saimin (nor teriyaki stick), which I personally thought tasted rather back-to-basics, and not much better than what I can get from the store from S&S Saimin (Sun Noodle), honestly speaking. Nothing wrong with that, but just sayin'.

    What other Saimin shops are available on Kauai? Just curious, as it seems Hamura's is the only game in (Lihue) town (or on the island for that matter). Especially in how the place is promoted in tourist-focused advertising on Kauai.
    Different strokes.

    There's also Kako's, tucked away behind Kauai Toyota in Lihue.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Wow, people! I think there are a lot of people who like old time saimin like my wife and I do. Thanks to all for your comments.

    We like the old fashion saimin, especially if the noodles are fresh or hand-made. The S&S (now Sun Noodle, I think) is just not the same. Not only is the taste of old style saimin something to remember, but the nostalgic effect of eating saimin when you were a kid -- having maybe 35 or 50 cents and being able to buy a bowl of saimin (olden times). I frequented a whole lot of small, neighborhood "saimin stands" and enjoyed those too, but I was too young to remember if they were indeed any good. But I do remember later in life, when my wife and I used to frequent Palace Saimin, Washington Saimin, and The Old Saimin House. Once in a while we used to go to Boulevard Saimin, but that was a fall back place for us to go. BTW, I could not open the Advertiser newspaper link that showed what happened to Washington Saimin.

    Again, thanks for all your inputs. I now have places to go eat when I next go back to Honolulu.......BTW, my Mom's family came from Maui and while on Maui, as a small kid, we used to eat Saimin at Tasty Crust and at Kitada's.

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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places: Sam Sato's Dry Mein (Wailuku, Maui)

    Oh, one place I dare not leave out of this thread is Sam Sato's in Wailuku, Maui, who are most famous for their Dry Noodle, a.k.a. "Dry Min" or "Dry Mein" (whichever looks spelled better to you)...



    The cooked saimin noodles are tossed with just a dash of oyster sauce and oil, then served "dry" in a bowl, then garnished with bean sprouts, charsiu and green onion. The what-tastes-like chicken stock and dashi broth is served on the side, tsukemen style, which you can either dip the noodles in, or drizzle over the noodles in the bowl. However you prefer.



    They get their noodles from Iwamoto Natto Factory in Paia.


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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Something's wrong with that picture of Sam Sato's. I see two open parking spaces in the lot. That's not the same place I visited a few years ago!
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Old Time Saimin Places

    Quote Originally Posted by scrivener View Post
    Something's wrong with that picture of Sam Sato's. I see two open parking spaces in the lot. That's not the same place I visited a few years ago!
    Actually, that gold Chevy Malibu between those two empty spaces along side it is our rent-a-car.

    Speaking of rent-a-car, there were like two groups of mainland tourists there during our visit, with the rest being locals. Good vibe. Great place, this Sam Sato's!

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