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Wailuku Eats: Sam Sato's

Sam Sato’s signature specialty, the Dry Noodles, a.k.a. “Dry Mein”

This past week my girlfriend took a trip back to Maui to take care of some business. While there, one of the places she had lunch with her friends at was Sam Sato’s in Wailuku.

She noted how popular (crowded) this place is, to which they had to wait in line for about a half-hour just to get a table.

Sam Sato’s signature item is their Dry Noodles, or as the regulars call it, “Dry Mein”, which perhaps could also be spelled “Draimin”.

Sam Sato’s Dry Noodles, $4.95 (small)

Made by the Iwamoto Noodle Factory in Pa’ia , these “dry” noodles were explained to me as being thicker than typical saimin noodles, and a bit firmer and more chewy. They’re cooked al dente and served as stated, meaning they’re not immersed in a broth. It’s topped with the usual Saimin style charsiu, bean sprouts and green onion garnishes.

A small bowl of hot dashi broth is served along side the noodles, which the diner uses to drizzle (not pour the whole thing) on the noodles for added flavor and moisture. Of course you could do that too, or not use the broth at all. Up to you.

She said the noodles alone (with or without the toppings or broth) are super ono and worth the visit (and wait to get in) to Sam Sato’s. A must-order dish when coming here.

If dry isn’t your thing, order the Saimin…

Sam Sato’s Saimin with Vegetables, $5.70

Ooh, that looks ono too!

Looking at the menu, there’s also wonton mein and chow fun to round out all the local style noodle favorites.

If a savory entree with rice is more on your mind, this Hamburger Steak plate looks like a winnah…

Sam Sato’s Hamburger Steak plate lunch, $7.00

Then there’s the Chopped Steak…

Sam Sato’s Chopped Steak plate lunch, $7.25

And finally on the table on this visit was the Mahimahi plate…

Sam Sato’s Mahimahi plate lunch, $n/a

All the plate lunches come with the protocol two scoops rice (white only) and your choice of tossed or mac’ salad.

Looking at the prices, it’s no wonder this place packs a crowd. Especially with the cost of living in Maui. My girlfriend went shopping at Star Market in Lahaina, where she said (at current retail/sale price) a gallon of milk was $8, a can of SPAM $3.50, bottle of Furikake $6, package of Nori $3, loaf of basic white sandwich bread $4 and a 20 lb. bag of Hinode rice $15.99. Ouch! It’s probably cheaper to eat at Sam Sato’s than to buy groceries and cook your own meal.

Back to Sam Sato’s, here’s the lunch menu…

There’s also a breakfast menu not shown here. Sam Sato’s is also know for their crispy Manju and peach, apple, coconut and pineapple turnovers. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m up there looking for Omiyage to bring back to Oahu.

Here’s how the building (located in Wailuku) looks…

Soon-to-be Sam Sato diners await their turn for a table…

That window counter near that gentleman in green to the left of the gray entrance door is where you leave your name to be called for a table. Don’t forget to sign in or you’ll be waiting all day!

Slurping up oodles of noodles is likely a common site among diners at Sam Sato’s…

So next time you visit Maui and are craving some local style noodles or a good plate lunch, Get in line then get in on it at Sam Sato’s.

Sam Sato’s, Inc.
1750 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793
(island of Maui)
Tel. 808-244-7124
Meals: 7am-2pm
Manju pick-up: 7am-4pm

15 thoughts on “Wailuku Eats: Sam Sato's

  • December 21, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Yum, I have only been to Maui a couple times, but I love Sam Sato’s! I thought the Dry Mein sounded weird at first, like isn’t it just like fried noodles!? It’s really good though. And I love their manju also–I like it better than the Lawai one, which I think is too greasy even though my parents love it.

  • December 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    mmm…that mahi plate looks delish! I’d like to check this place out next time I’m on Maui.

  • December 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Dry noodle is filling is cooked with sauce in it and noodle without and mix together. In Chinese it called Gon Low Mein. Dry mix noodle. Never been to Maui but my cousin own a grocery store there. I will check Sam Sato when planing trip to see my cousin.

  • December 22, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I used to go to the Sam Sato’s in Puunene . . . on dusty, red-dirt corner of town, across from the cane fields. . . ahh memories. Always got the dry mein and had some of my mom’s spare ribs. Never been to this one – must check it out next year when we go home!

  • December 23, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Now that’s good looking hamburger steak and chopped steak!

  • December 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Pomal, I can’t believe things in foods so costly on Maui. They need a Costco or Foods Outlet there. Make people in Honolulu thanks prices are better. Please write more of other islands if you ever go there. It very interesting entries for a mainlander like me.

  • December 23, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Went to Sam Sato’s in Puunene when “Grandma” Sato was making manju – ohhhh they were good when fresh and still is the best. Will need to check out the new location when we go home.

  • December 25, 2008 at 1:17 am

    “Draimin” – great! You should trademark that term.

    That hamburger steak is a heart stopper. Meaning my heart stopped when I saw it. Oh, it looks so good.

    I’ve not had their manju before. One day if we ever get to Maui again I’ll have to go try it out. Unless I hear of someone going to Maui for a vacation or something. Then I can send them ;-)

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • December 26, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Nate ’88, yeah, I also think Draimin™ – in following with “Saimin” – is the best way to spell it.

    One day I’d like to do a comparo post between Sam Sato’s and Home Maid Bakery’s Manju. I’m most curious about their turnovers though; especially the Blueberry and Pina Colada flavors.

    Yoji and Deb, how long ago was it that Sam Sato’s was in Puunene (without dating yourself of course!)?

    Betty, incredible, ain’t it? I bet lots of Maui residents traveling back and forth via the Superferry have their vehicles filled to the roof with groceries from Oahu markets to save a few bucks.

    Nate, indeed, both those plates look ono. My girlfriend did a pretty good job getting those shots!

    Amy, thanks for the info on Gon Low Mein. The one and only Saimin is the perfect hybrid of Chinese and Japanese with the Chinese style noodles and Japanese style dashi broth. Yet I think the saimin noodle took on some of the Japanese influence as well with the addition of Alkaline water to make the dough.

    Hi Sheila. The person who had the Mahimahi plate said it was tasty, although wasn’t as crispy-fresh as they would have preferred, but probably pre-made and sitting in a warmer. Which is understandable considering how busy the place gets. Made-to-order would be almost impossible to keep up with.

    Robyn, while I didn’t think Dry Mein sounded too weird, I did wonder how well it would work. After hearing how good the noodles themselves really are, I’m confident I’ll really enjoy it next time I visit the Valley Isle.

  • December 26, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Pomai- love your blog!
    If you like buttery (or might be shortening), tender, melt-in-your mouth kine manju, Sam Sato’s is the place to go! I love it way better than HM bakery (their’s is kinda like fried apple pie). The dry-mein is the bomb (tastes like oyster sauce, dashi, oil).
    Hope you can get some Sam Sato manju soon!

  • December 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Ho brah, you stay on my home turf! Man, I miss Sam Sato’s so much. Last time I was home I brought home a whole tray of Dry Mein back here to Las Vegas. The stuff is sooo ono, and brings back memories. Little bit dashi broth, shoyu, pepper, and tabasco on top…so brok’ da mout! Everytime I go back home, this is one of the first places I go eat. My friend work at one engineering firm on the same ‘loop’ so we always ask him for go with us. You gotta try the manju, both lima and azuki bean is good…and all taste home made. The turnovers good too, my favs are the apple, pineapple, and coconut. I always end up taking a few dozen manju and turnovers every time I fly back home to Las Vegas. But I have hard time sharing…ha ha!

    Sam Sato’s was a part of my childhood since I could remember. If you tried the noodles, you gotta try the beef tomato and spare ribs too. So ono. This place has a special spot in my heart…not fancy fancy, but great people with great food. Winnahs.

    Yah, we get Costco on Maui and Walmart too…but still kinda expensive! If there’s one thing I no miss about Maui it’s the prices…I find it hard now to go buy a $7 gallon of milk on Maui when it only costs $3 here in Las Vegas. But man, half of the food I love back on Maui outshines what get here in Las Vegas! Dry Mein from Sam Sato’s, chicken katsu from Da Kitchen, Guri-Guri from Tasaka, and shave ice from Tom’s Mini Mart…that’s good survival food on the cheap! Maui I miss you!

  • January 13, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Yes, groceries are pretty expensive on Maui. But, like anywhere else, if you can find the sales, you’ll end up ok. The Star Market in Lahaina has inflated “tourist” prices. Living in paradise isn’t cheap, I guess?

  • March 3, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I went to Maui once and visited Sam Sato’s and the food was very good. The staff was very polite and friendly. The restaurant was very popular and was doing lots of business. I will return again on my next visit to Maui. – Sam Sato

  • March 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Sam Sato, is your real name also Sam Sato? Just curious. I mean, you know, it could be! Nah, no ack.. your name Glenn Miyashiro, eh? lol

  • April 16, 2009 at 3:54 am

    hi – just searching Sam Sato’s puunene and came across my own comment – LOL! Sorry for just noticing your question. . .I don’t know how long it was there, or when it closed. We moved from Puunene when they demolished the homes – in the 70’s – but for some reason I think Sam’s was still there for awhile?? Can’t be sure. We’ll be there in June and I’ll try to find some info for us. . . .



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