Hawaiian Saimin History and Recipe

Hawaiian Saimin is a favorite local fast food of the Hawaiian islands (also known as the national dish of Hawaii).  It is considered the supreme comfort food of the Islands, eaten at any time of day.  You can find Hawaiian Saimin at snack bars, coffee shops, and even on the McDonald’s menu (in Hawaii only).  Saimin is basically an inexpensive noodle and broth soup, similar to Japanese ramen.

In Hawaii, you will get the real thing, fresh, thin white noodles in a clear broth with green onions, kamaboko (fish cakes), and sometimes ham or char siu (pork).  Some people add chicken, eggs, shrimp, and whatever else is desired.  The Saimin is eaten very hot with chopsticks or spoons, and the broth is then drunk from the bowl.  Do not be afraid to slurp, as there is simply no quiet way to eat Saimin.  A few ambitious home cooks will make this noodle soup from scratch, but most people just rip open the ready-mix instant packages that can be found in all stores and is manufactured in Honolulu.

History:  Japanese immigrants consider Saimin to be Chinese, and the Chinese consider it to be Japanese.  Because Hawaii is made up of an incredible mix of cultures – Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Thai, and many others – it could have originated from anywhere, then combined into this very tasty and popular soup.  Each new wave of immigrant workers adapted their native cuisine to fit the Islands’ available ingredients.


Hawaiian Saiminn



More delicious Hawaiian food to learn about and and make:  Loco Moco, Poke, Shave Ice, and Spam – Spam Musubi


Hawaiian Saimin Recipe:
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Keyword: Hawaiian Saimin History, Hawaiian Saimin Recipe
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) package Japanese soba noodles, dried*
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth**
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly-grated
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Toppings***
  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 4 quarts of water and salt; bring to a boil.  Add soba noodles and boil 4 to 6 minutes until al dente.  Remove from heat, drain, rinse under warm running water, and then set aside until ready to use.

  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add chicken broth and ginger; bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Add soy sauce and your favorite toppings; simmer for 5 minutes longer or until toppings are cooked. Remove from heat.

  3. Place cooked soba noodles in a large soup serving bowl; spoon broth mixture (with toppings) over the top and serve.

  4. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

    Saimin Soup
Recipe Notes

* Soba noodles can be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores, at Japanese food specialty stores, and online.  To purchase online, click on the green link.

** Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade Chicken Stock - Basic Chicken Stock.

*** Topping Suggestions (Pick and choose your favorites):

Sliced Spam
Baked ham slices
Roast Pork slices
Sliced carrots
Shredded green cabbage,
Chopped bok choy
Sliced mushrooms
Green peas
Scrambled or fried egg
sliced green onions or scallions
Cooked small shrimp, peeled and deveined


Comments and Reviews

8 Responses to “Hawaiian Saimin History and Recipe”

  1. Suzan Nakashima

    How to make saimin noodles. I can make saimin, however I would like to make the noodles from scratch. Do you have recipes for making the noodles. Thank you.

  2. Gordon Haas

    Here’s one from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2001 (also broth recipe) http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/03/07/features/request.html

  3. Finger Monkey Love

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s
    both educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail
    on the head. The problem is something too few people are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I found this during my search for something relating to this.

  4. Brian Hirayama

    Unfortunately, this recipe is not even close to the real thing. Saimin broth takes hours to make properly, from scrubbed and boiled pork bones and dried shrimp. Soba noodles are absolutely the wrong type of noodles. Kind of an injustice to Hawaiian saimin to simplify things this way, especially when people think this is “educational”.

    • Nancy

      Brian, the intro to the recipe states this is a quick version, and that the real thing needs an ambitious cook to make it from scratch. The intent is not to do injustice to Hawaiian Saimin. We would love if you have a traditional recipe to share, we would be happy to add it to this web page as an option for Saimin aficionados that want to take on the traditional way of making it. I know it is much better than the fast version.

  5. Gerry

    What is the right type of noodle? Can’t find the frozen noodle we used to get back in the 50’s – 60’s.

  6. Jim

    My mom got a recipe from a Japanese lady at church when my dad was stationed (Navy) in Hawaii (1968-1972). She said they had a particular kind of noodle that she couldn’t find on the mainland so for many years she used very fine egg noodles and now that she can find them she uses rice noodles.


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