Hawaiian’s favorite noodle Saimin: Origin, Meaning, and how to eat?

asian soup with boiled egg and green onions in bowl

The Hawaiian people have their special meat soup, which is also considered a national dish. This soup called saimin is based on dashi broth, served with soba noodles and fresh vegetables.

What is Saimin? 

Saimin provides everything, everything means protein (Meat) + Vegi (vegetable) + Carb( Noodle) + additional nutrition & flavor (Broth), It’s noodle basic but they based on Hawaiian way. we expect from a rich and hearty soup. Based on an intense broth of dashi konbu (dried kelp seaweed), aromatic shiitake mushrooms, bonito (dried fish), and to naturally enhance the flavors, monosodium glutamate (MSG).

The base requires cooking for a few hours. It is, therefore, not a quick meal, but it is certainly worth it. Adding water and soy sauce turns it into a lighter broth, suitable to keep food warm and savory. In addition to soy sauce, the soup also enhanced with beef or shrimp stock.

What is the origin of Saimin?

An island populated by settlers from Southeast Asia who began arriving around 1500 BC, Hawaii has a strong Asian heritage in its cuisine. That explains the evident components and influences from Japan and China for saimin, not to mention the Asian sound of the name of this soup.

Picture of Saimin (Wikipedia)

Over the past decade, Asian dishes and their soups have become increasingly popular around the world. Who hasn’t heard of Pekinese soup, Vietnamese pho, miso soup, or Japanese ramen? Yet Hawaiian saimin is not yet internationally known. It also offers a variant inspired by pancit, a popular Filipino dish.

Hawaiian saimin can be found anywhere in Hawaii, from bistros to resorts, even McDonald’s. For those who are short of time or don’t want to spend time in the kitchen, there is an instant version that requires only hot water. It can be eaten as a snack or even as a main course, depending on the number of ingredients added, such as meat, deli meats, vegetables, or herbs. The options are countless and varied.

What we can add on the top of Saimin, Can we add more healthier toppings ?

Japanese soba noodles, made from buckwheat, are the base ingredient of saimin. Therefore, this traditional Hawaiian dish is also compatible with gluten intolerance. These fine noodles absorb the broth beautifully and are also very hearty. However, it is the various fillings that make this soup deliciously unique. These various toppings are the result of the impact of immigrants from different countries.

Traditional Japanese style toppings

Kamaboko, a sweet fish cake, is a classic ingredient of saimin, and the same goes for char siu, a spicy and pork roast. Spam, finely cut, is a readily available ingredient that widely used, as are hard-boiled eggs cut in half.

Healthier option : add vegetables & herbs

Fresh onions and thinly sliced celery sticks, crispy soy sprouts, quartered bok choy, grated white cabbage, or watermelon radish are perfect garnishings for this hot soup. As far as herbs are concerned, anything spicy goes well with saimin, such as chili pepper, black pepper or Sichuan pepper, hot mustard mixed with a light soy sauce, to dip the noodles in. Herbs added at the end, provide extra freshness, especially mixed parsley and coriander leaves. It will be more nutritious & tasteful!!

How is Saimin served and eaten? 

The soup assembled in large individual pots. For beginners, a spoon recommended, but for a more authentic experience, chopsticks are best. Then, after finishing with all the tender and crunchy pieces, the broth can be drunk slowly or slowly.


People may confuse Ramen or Saimin or, may think it is mix with Japanese ramen and Chinese noodle soup. Like I mentioned it is originated from Ramen and other Asian noodles, but Hawaiian unique culture makes it more authentic and brighter. I think only Hawaiian can mix these cultures more unique and special based on their life.

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