#Kaua’i: Hamura’s Saimin

Hamura’s Saimin – in business since 1951

WenYu and YaYu are both huge noodle afficionadas, so it made perfect sense that Hamura’s Saimin would be their choice of where to go to celebrate the end of their respective school years last week.

A small bowl of Hamura’s regular saimin is very filling!

Hamura’s Saimin is an institution on Kaua’i, and has been around as long as most people can remember. Aiko and Charlie Hamura began selling bowls of noodles from their car in 1951, and the restaurant they eventually opened is still family owned and operated. Every day locals and visitors alike head to the humble restaurant, located on a back street in Lihue, and often line up to wait for a spot at the big winding counter in order to enjoy a bowl of homemade noodles and wontons topped with meat, kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) and vegetables.

There were seats available when this picture was taken, but there’s often a wait for a place at the counter.

Originally developed in Hawai’i during its plantation days, saimin is a Hawaiian version of ramen, with Chinese, Japanese and Filipino influences. It is considered a traditional state food in Hawai’i.

Hamura’s is old school, and proud of it. Noodles and wontons are made fresh from scratch every morning, then cooked and served in bowls of fragrant broth. The small restaurant has won many awards over the years, including an “American Classic” award from the James Beard Foundation in 2006. In spite of it all, their noodles remain affordable: $6.75 for a small bowl of regular saimin, $7.00 for medium, and $7.75 for large. Specialty bowls are only slightly more.

Our girls eat their saimin Chinese style: Chopsticks in one hand for the noodles, and the soup spoon in the other for sipping the broth.

Hamura’s also offers an incredible homemade lilikoi (passionfruit) chiffon pie for dessert, the perfect finish after a bowl of saimin. It’s sold by the slice, but sometimes whole pies are available for sale.

Hamura’s light and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth homemade lilikoi chiffon pie

If you want a taste of traditional Hawai’i, Hamura’s is the real deal. Hamura’s Saimin is located at 2956 Kress Street in Lihue. It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 12:00 a.m. on weekends. Payment is cash only.

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6 thoughts on “#Kaua’i: Hamura’s Saimin

  1. JJ says:

    I’ve been hoping you’d do a review of this place! I went there with a friend (who is from the Philippines originally) when we visited Kauai last year. We had read about it in a guide book (The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook) and thought it sounded interesting so we went for a late dinner. The place was packed, but we happened to get there just at the right moment because there were two seats next to each other. Just after we arrived, a line started forming and was soon out the door. The ladies who work there are from the Philippines so my friend was talking to them in Tagalog to find out what’s best to order. I don’t remember now what we had, but I think we had an appetizer that might have been grilled chicken on skewers and then had the Saimin. I liked it, but I guess when you live in a hot climate, salty foods are what you crave to replace the salt you lose from sweating, but we both felt it was too salty for us and not something we’d eat too often. We didn’t get any pie because we were both too full, but I wish we had.

    It was a fun experience and we felt very ‘local’ for about a half hour. As you said, if you want an authentic experience, this is the place to go. If you’re looking for a place to have a fancy meal, this isn’t it because it’s definitely a no-frills type of place, but it’s just a good, basic place to get a meal at a decent price.

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    • Laura says:

      Believe it or not, I have not been here. The girls go all the time though – they are noodle fiends. I like saimin, but these days I can’t do the carbs.

      I read that the owners were given an all-expenses paid trip to New York when they won the James Beard award, but turned it down because they didn’t want to have to close the restaurant.

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      • JJ says:

        Wow, that’s funny they wouldn’t close when they won the award!

        If you can’t eat carbs then that’s a good place to avoid since there’s nothing else on the menu, other than the skewers, but I don’t remember if you can get those as a meal or if they’re just meant as an appetizer. I really wish we had ordered the pie. Ah, next time!

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      • Laura says:

        If I go I’m going to just order a piece of pie, take one big bite and then give the rest to Brett or one of the girls. That will be enough!

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  2. quesoit1 says:

    We ate at Hamura’s when we visited Kauai and really enjoyed the saimin. Mainlanders that we are, we did not know what the bottle of chili pepper water on our table was, or what we were supposed to do with it!

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