America's Classics: Alan Wong on Hamura’s Saimin StandJBF Editors
March 15, 2016
Hamura’s Saimin Stand
Lihue, Kauai, HI
Noodles are one of my most favorite comfort foods, next to rice. Saimin is an iconic local dish in Hawaii—you can’t find saimin in any other part of the world. Where Japan has ramen, Hawaii has saimin. It’s a dish that all local kids grow up eating, and Hamura’s is one of the oldest and most famous saimin shops in Hawaii. It’s been around for generations, and it still has the same mom-and-pop feel that it had when it first opened. There’s really a feeling of going back in time to Old Hawaii, and it evokes a sense of nostalgia for a lot of people.
I first started going to Hamura Saimin when I moved to Kauai briefly in the late 1980s. When you go there, you feel like you’re going to an old diner or an old fountain parlor. You go up to the counter and sit on the stools. The ladies that take your order don’t write anything down; they remember everything. They don’t try to be fancy about anything there. It’s just simple, good food: they only have one type of saimin in different size servings, and they have Japanese or teriyaki-flavored barbeque meat on skewers called “bbq meat sticks.” I’ve ordered their handmade saimin noodles, and used them at events. They’re also famous for their lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie. There’s usually a line out the door, but it’s worth the wait!
—Alan Wong, JBF Award Winner
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