Okahara's Saimin


Okahara’s Saimin – Pomai’s “Deluxe” version

Hawaii’s supermarkets carry two prominent brands of locally-made, FRESH Saimin: S&S (now owned by Sun Noodle) and Okahara’s. What I mean by fresh is the noodles, in which they’re mostly cooked, only requiring a quick dip in boiling water to heat them up. This also means this type of saimin requires refrigeration or freezing for storage.

So enter Okahara’s, which we have here as the “Saimin Lovers Pack”…

As you can see, it’s similar to how S&S packages their fresh Saimin, in what I’ll call, “Semi-Ready-to-Eat Saimin”. Just add garnish.

Inside of this bag, you get 9 packages of 4.5 oz. single serving Saimin…

Each individually-sealed package contains fresh 4.5 oz. of pre-cooked Saimin noodles and a packet of powdered broth.

Let’s start with that broth, because that’s the most important part! Now I’m not a chemist, but if you ask me, this is basically HON DASHI, or Bonito Fish Soup Stock, in powdered form. Here’s the ingredients to Okahara’s “Soup”: Salt, MSG, Sugar, Powdered Bonito, Powdered Soy, Powdered Onion, Caramel Coloring and Green Onion (made in Japan).

Common! That’s just Dashi! Da’ kine’ you use fo’ make Miso Soup. I know it! Don’t get me wrong. Not knocking it. It’s just really so basic, that it begs you to add more stuff to your saimin, as you can with the all the garnishes I’ve added.

Here’s how the contents look unpackaged…

The ingredients for these pre-cooked noodles are: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Ascorbic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin added as dough conditioner), Water, Salt & Potassium Carbonate.

“Cooking” this type of saimin simply requires a quick 2 minute boil in water, then serve. The instructions say to add the powdered soup into the water with saimin as it boils, but I opt to mix it directly in my serving bowl with hot water, so I can adjust the intensity of the broth. That’s the “Ramen” in me. lol

That first bowl I pictured above was my girlfriend’s, as she doesn’t care for green onions, so I kept them whole (for presentation purposes), which she simply fished out.

Here’s my “Supah’ Deluxe Saimin”…


Okahara’s Saimin – Pomai’s “Supah’ Deluxe” version

“Supah Deluxe Saimin” eh? So what do we mean by that? Well my friends, it’s all about the toppings. The “icing on the cake” if you will.

First witness not 1, not 2, but EIGHT pieces of fried SPAM. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Then take hold of not 1 but FIVE slices of Kamaboko fish cake. Throw in half of a hard-boiled egg and CHOKE green onions, and that’s it. These are the CORE ingredients of what we consider “Local-Style Saimin”. Another popular (local style) meat option to SPAM or luncheon meat is Charsiu (Chinese roast pork), which is actually my preference, but I didn’t have any on-hand for this occasion.

So how does Okahara’s compare to S&S? In my opinion, along with a few of my coworkers, Okahara’s broth has more flavor. S&S is bland by comparison. But really, we ARE just talking about a basic Dashi broth, aren’t we? Also, as many locals often do, adding shoyu for a “boost” is protocol. Also keep in mind that I’m a Japanese style Ramen fanatic, so Saimin “broth” really is substandard for me, but hey, that’s only if we’re nitpicking. I still love this stuff!

If you’ve ever been to Hamura’s on Kauai (they won a James Beard award), then you get a sense of what Okahara’s tastes like. This is just your everyday Saimin that does what it’s supposed to do: taste like Saimin, do a great job at it, and most of all, satisfy your hunger. It does that, and does it on time and on budget. This package of 9 single servings cost just $3.99 on sale at Marukai. What a bargain!

It really comes down to how you garnish Saimin to your liking. Right out the package it isn’t going to “wow” you. But when you “Go Fo’ Broke” like I did here, then it’s the ultimate.

A while back I posted an entry about S&S’ ready-to-serve bowl…


S&S Saimin – Ready-to-Eat Bowl

Well, Okahara’s also has a competing product…


Okahara’s Saimin – Ready-to-Eat Bowl

Renote in the S&S bowl that I added Menma, which are marinated bamboo shoots. Otherwise it includes the 1 piece of luncheon meat, Kamaboko (fish cake) and green onions.

Now, looking at the Okahara’s Saimin ready-to-eat bowl, it includes Kamaboko, along with a significantly-more generous helping of sliced luncheon meat (like SPAM), along with a generous amount of sliced eggs (omelet), along with fresh sliced green onions. Nice. These ready-to-eat bowls are a godsend for work, and BLOW any “Cup Noodle” stuff out the park. Now if they’d only do this with Ramen!

A great way to enjoy Saimin, which I learned from a friend a long time ago, is to enjoy it along with a hamburger. Instead of french fries, have a Saimin!

Yes, Saimin is one of the true culinary icons that represent Hawaii’s plantation heritage, where cultures blended and came up with the perfect comfort food. Gotta’ love Saimin!

P.S. If you want to see one version of “non-soup” Saimin, that would be in the form of the Somen Salad…

As you can see, this Somen Salad is from Zippy’s. It’s made up of Somen Noodles, which are skinnier and more delicate than Saimin Noodles, garnished with chopped ham, Kamaboko, egg, cucumber, and green onion, served over a bed of mixed green lettuce, along with a sesame and shoyu dressing that you pour over it upon digging in.

The other version is the local style fried noodles, which I’ll post later when I order some.


Comments

Okahara's Saimin — 15 Comments

  1. Wow, you’re one nice boyfriend to make special order saimin how your girl likes it! ; )
    And you’re a real connoisseur of saimin, too. It’s so great to see someone teaching the world that ramen/saimin is not just Cup-of-Noodle! Keep spreading the gospel . . .

    And thanks for the tip about the BBQ guy in the previous post, we’re never in town often enough to know who’s good.

  2. …hey! My user name is cup o noodle. I get enough Cup jokes, lol. Last time I made fresh saimin, I forgot it was fresh and boiled the hell out of it. My family ate it anyway. S&S is expensive on the mainland. Tasted like porridge. :)

  3. Hey, you make me miss home like mad. Saimin is such a comfort food.

    Love the photos! I guess the next best thing to having a bowl of saimin from home is drooling over the photos.

  4. Nocturnal, I just got off the phone with someone in the back office at Shiro’s, and they said their noodles are house-made, but from a centrally-located factory for all the Shiro’s restaurants.

  5. Pingback: Punahou Carnival 2009 « The Tasty Island

  6. I would like to purchase Okihara’s Saimin here in Connecticut. Not available in our stores. I fell in love with their Saimin Treat back in the 50′s-60′s. Does anyone know of a website where I can purchase?

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