Shiro’s Saimin Haven

Digest Step Up to the Plate

December 1, 2013

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Rachel Breit


Growing up, being the curious and rambunctious child that I was, my mom always used to scold me and say, “Use your noodle!” I’ll not say that I always (okay, ever) took that advice, but one who did take that wisdom to heart was Shiro Matsuo, founder of Shiro’s Saimin Haven, where daily more than 60 different noodle combinations can be found to delight even the pickiest diner.

Literally using their noodles — as every batch of Shiro’s savory saimin is made from scratch onsite with Matsuo’s own recipe — daughter Linda and grandson Bryce Fujimoto have carried on the family legacy marked by a quality product and creative cuisine. This week, I step up to Shiro’s Spicy Beef Saimin With Wun Tun, Vegetables and Garnishes.

Simple, clean seasonings and delectable ingredients simmered together make this from-scratch saimin so good one shamelessly wants to slurp up every sip. So, go ahead and tilt your head back, bring that bowl to your lips and let yourself savor every last drop — never mind if you dribble … you won’t be alone.

Vibrantly colorful and tenderly juicy, generous chunks of char siu infuse this saimin with that extra somethin’. Bright bites of Chinese sweet roasted pork are perfectly cooked, bringing a deliciously distinct taste of the Islands to the table.

“My grandfather opened up for business in 1969 and it’s been a family company ever since. My mom is really hands-on and manages most everything, my step-dad Aaron is the VP and even our uncle works here, along with many long-term employees that have become family — it just feels right to be here,” says Fujimoto.

“We serve comfort food here and it’s our goal to have people come in, feel welcome and forget about the hustle and bustle happening outside. This is especially true of our customers that come straight from the airport, which makes up a lot of our clientele,” explains Fujimoto.

Shiro’s saimin is made only with its own recipe and delivered fresh daily from its Dillingham factory. According to Fujimoto, “There is a huge difference between regular ramen and our noodles. Most ramen is either dried or frozen before being served, but our saimin is always fresh — the way saimin is supposed to be.”

The flavorful dashi (saimin broth) is a crucial component that makes this saimin stand out. A lip-smackin’ concoction of kombu (seaweed), bonito (fish flakes) and Shiro’s secret spices (Fujimoto slyly avoided divulging specifics and instead listed “a little bit of love” as the last ingredient), the broth leaves the palate with a clean, fresh taste that isn’t overpowering or weighed down with lipids or oil.

Shiro’s Saimin Haven

98-020 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea (also located in Waipahu and Ewa Beach)
488-8824 for restaurant and catering 488-8834 for takeout
Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Aiea, HI 96701

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best