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Wun Tun of Saimin
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Wun Tun of Saimin

Story By Ali Resich Photos By Leah Friel
September 25 - October 1, 2011

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The Old Saimin House’s philosophy can be summed up in two words: simplicity and family. Upon entering the shop, you won’t find an overwhelming menu or any hidden dining rooms. You’ll simply find the fourth generation of this family-owned business cooking up their classic comfort foods for a community of longstanding patrons.

  • Wun Tun Min X-Large $7.50
  • Fried Saimin $8.25
  • Manager Lois Ikei
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The restaurant has moved a few times since its original opening in 1962 by Tomizo and Mitsue Ikei, whose family immigrated to Hawaii from Okinawa. Back in the days, this iconic establishment was named The Saimin House.

“A lot of people remember when we were by Tamashiro Market,” says manager Lois Ikei.

Loyal patrons can still find the same old-fashioned favorites at the eatery’s current location on North King Street.

First-timers are welcome as well, and might like to try the most popular menu item, Wun Tun Min. Soft handmade dumplings, or wun tun, are filled with savory seasoned pork and supplement a comforting, hot bowl of noodles. While they are made traditionally, Ikei likes the wun tun at this restaurant to be larger than usual. It’s no wonder these silky treats are a customer favorite.

Wun Tun Min comes in small (3 pieces; $5.75), large (5 pieces; $6.25) and x-large (7 pieces; $7.50). If you can’t get enough dumplings, you can order a bowl of plain wun tun as well, in small (10 pieces $7.25), large (13 pieces $8), or x-large (16 p i e c e s $9.50). They are so popular that, “we have a regular customer who orders 21 pieces in one order with no noodles,” explains Ikei. Now that is an impressive way to get a kanack attack.

Another must-have dish is the Fried Saimin ($8.25), cooked with char sui, fishcake, cabbage and green onion, or however you prefer. Like all the menu items at this restaurant, the Fried Saimin is simply delicious. Regulars also enjoy other varieties of this dish such as Fried Udon ($8.25) and Fried Okinawan Soba ($8.25). In the spirit of generosity, side soups are complimentary with any order of fried noodles.

Be sure to try the local grinds in the Combination Plate ($6.60) with musubi, mac salad, Spam and barbecue sticks, as well as other favorites such as Udon (small $5.25; large $6.; x-large $6.75) and Wun Tun Udon (small $6.25; large $7; x-large $8).

There are no secrets behind The Old Saimin House’s long-lasting success. When it comes to a comforting meal, Ikei says, “a lot of people are looking for old-fashioned, traditional, local saimin of long ago.” That’s exactly what they’ll find here. It’s as simple as that.

The Old Saimin House

  • Where
    • 1311 North King Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96817
  • Call
    • (808) 842-7697
  • Hours
    • Lunch
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • Tuesday – Saturday
    • Dinner
    • 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Tuesday – Thursday
    • 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
    • Friday – Saturday
    • Closed Sundays and Mondays
  • Website