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These island classics will always hit the spot

Inside Feature

March 10, 2019

Story By: Ellise Kakazu |

There are a few things that locals can never get tired of, and one of them is saimin. Bowls filled with hot broth and noodles have become an integral part of Hawaii’s culture and cuisine.

While there are countless places that serve the onolicious favorite, Shiro’s Saimin Haven is often considered the best. Shiro’s first opened for business in 1969 at Aiea Bowl and has been pleasing customers with kicked-up saimin ever since.

Presenting saimin as a meal is a concept that founder Franz Shiro Matsuo pioneered and executed to perfection.

“For many years before he opened the Saimin Haven, he played with the idea of ‘glorifying’ the saimin and making it a meal in itself,” says president Linda Matsuo. “He was the first one to add vegetables into the saimin. No one had ever thought to add veggies to saimin.

“He played with the idea of having a cosmopolitan flavor to the many di˛erent combinations of saimin. And in typical Shiro style, he thought of 50 di˛ erent saimin combinations.”

Shiro’s Saimin Haven celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the restaurant plans to stick around for another 50 years, serving beloved Hawaii favorites.

DODONPA, THE ULTIMATE KING OF SAIMINS ($12.45)

ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

Founder Franz Shiro Matsuo invented this popular, filled-to-the-brim saimin bursting with roast beef, mushrooms, imitation crab, egg, Chinese roast pork, won ton, Chinese cabbage, char siu, luncheon meat and green onions.

SUSHI PLATTER ($46.65 MEDIUM)

LAWRENCE TABUDLO PHOTO

It’s not a party without a Sushi Platter from Shiro’s Saimin Haven. The restaurant may be known for its bowls of saimin, but its sushi creations are also a hit among customers. A medium-sized Sushi Platter comes with 16 cone sushi, 30 maki, 10 oshi with egg, and 16 teppo with takuan.

FRIED NOODLES ($59.05 LARGE, AVAILABLE IN SIZES EXTRA SMALL TO EXTRA LARGE)

ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

Shiro’s Saimin Haven’s Fried Noodles are seasoned with secret spices and feature pieces of pork and chicken, onion, cabbage and char siu. According to vice president Bryce Fujimoto, the fried noodles are a little thicker than the restaurant’s saimin noodles, as they are “a little more hearty.”

“HOMEMADE” HAMBURGA STEAK WITH GRAVY ($11.65)

ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

The tender hamburger steak patty is made with Big Island beef, breadcrumbs, onions and a couple of secret ingredients, while the luscious, rich gravy is seasoned with onions, garlic and celery.

LAU LAU WITH “LOCAL BOY” BEEF STEW ($12.55)

LAWRENCE TABUDLO PHOTO

This is one of Shiro’s Saimin Haven’s most popular plates. President Linda Matsuo notes the made-in-house lau lau consists of pork butt and salted butterfish, and is made from scratch. The heartwarming beef stew is filled with chunks of beef, celery, potato and carrot. A side of rice and corn is served alongside the tasty, dynamic duo.

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