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Eat This

Slurping It Up at Shiro’s

Story By Ali Resich Photos By Nathalie Walker
February 26 - March 3, 2012

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Shiro Matsuo, known locally as “Mistah Saimin,” gained Island-wide fame in the 1960s after transforming saimin from a traditional snack into a complete meal for Hawaii’s diners. Shiro’s Saimin Haven, his restaurant now managed by grandson Bryce Fujimoto, still serves the comforting soup and more to a community of adoring patrons.

  • Hawaiian Plate ($8.85)
  • (from left) Shiro's administrator Linda Matsuo, manager Bryce Fujimoto and owner Shiro
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Alongside Matsuo’s imaginative culinary vision is the warm spirit he spreads to his customers — and his craft. “Be pleasant and do something good. That is my philosophy,” he says.

This kind and straightforward outlook, in combination with a love for cooking, has resulted in more than 60 saimin varieties as well as a slew of other local grinds. If you’re looking to branch out from your favorite saimin, try Oxtail Soup with Gau Gee and Shiitake mushrooms ($12.50). “To improve the flavor, I put a little chicken broth in it,” says Matsuo. It’s that extra touch that makes the eatery’s dishes so slurp-worthy.

The kau kau doesn’t end there. Customers have always loved Hawaiian Plate ($8.85), filled with pork and fish lau lau, chicken long rice, lomi salmon and two scoops of rice. Matsuo also recommends his popular Local Boy Stew ($7.45), made with plenty of meat.

As Mistah Saimin simply puts it, “We not fancy, we not pricey, we just an ordinary restaurant, but we try to do it better.”

Shiro’s Saimin Haven

  • Where
    • Waimalu Shopping Center
    • 98-020 Kamehameha Highway
    • Aiea, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 488-8824
  • Hours
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 7 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
    • Friday – Saturday
    • 7 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.