Project Dry Mein


The Tasty Island’s Project Dry Mein, exhibit C (mixed)


Ever since recently hearing about and seeing first-hand photo accounts of Sam Sato’s famous dry noodles, also referred to as “Dry Mein”, something about it had me bent on recreating the dish at home. Perhaps it’s the purely simplistic concept the dish seems to have. “Seems” being the operative word, that increases my curiosity even further, along with the “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?!” thought slapping me across the face. This, compounded by the many sentiments of high regard and enthusiasm over the dish made in comments by readers here over the surrogate review I did a month ago on Sam Sato’s, makes it that much more intriguing.

Since I’m on Oahu, not Maui, and can’t just conveniently drive on over to Wailuku to get some myself, the next best thing I can do is attempt to deconstruct the dish in order to recreate it.

And all I’ve got to work with are a few photos, as well as a few fellow diners’ first-hand accounts of how the dish is presented. Along with the flavor profile of the broth side dish, and most importantly, the flavor and texture of the noodles.

Let’s take a look once again at the real McCoy, a serving of Dry Noodles from Sam Sato’s…


Sam Sato’s Dry Noodles, $4.95 (small)

Now look at my attempt at recreating the dish


The Tasty Island’s Project Dry Mein, exhibit C

Notice I named this one “exhibit C”, as this is my third attempt, and the best one yet.

Color-wise, my broth is obviously darker and less neutral-looking, if you will. An attestment to perhaps a little too much dashi in the chicken stock? Dunno’. Still ono though! My Sun Noodle Saimin-based noodles also aren’t as fat and could use a little more oil to coat, but still, it worked. Completely. Absolutely! According to those recently trying Sam Sato’s, spot on.

Which reminds just how complex this “seemingly” simple dish can be. Not quite as easy as just cooking the noodles in boiling water and serving it on the side with a dashi-based saimin broth. I tried that initially-assumed method, and It turned out rather bland and just, eh, OK. Surely not as good the one everyone raves about over at Sam Sato’s.

I was confident I already had the right noodles for the dish, which is the superior Hawaii’s Original Saimin Old Style from Sun Noodle…

Since I wasn’t satisfied with the first attempt, I went on to plan B and searched online for recipes, coming across really what was the only one I could find that sounded close, posted over at AlohaWorld.com.

Reader Jocelyn left a comment mentioning she thought the noodles are flavored with oyster sauce, dashi and oil.I also noticed one reviewer of Sam Sato’s who didn’t speak so highly of the dish mentioned the broth tasted like chicken broth. Which actually sounded like something worth trying!

So using ALL those ingredients, as well as the basic method of preparation from Aloha World’s recipe, I set off to refine it.

One mistake I made in following AlohaWorld’s recipe was to use ALL the sauce ingredients as instructed when tossing the cooked noodles in the bowl, which turned out too salty and over-flavored. So much for exhibit B.

Finally I came up with a winner on my third attempt with exhibit C. Here’s the recipe!…

Dry Mein Project Exhibit C recipe
Noodles:
1 serving Sun Noodle brand Hawaii’s Original Saimin Old Style (including dashi broth packet)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
2 cups water

Sauce:
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dashi or saimin broth powder diluted with 2 tablespoons hot chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

Broth:
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon powdered dashi saimin broth
Chopped green onions

Garnish:
Charsiu, cut into strips
Kamaboko, cut into strips
Bean Sprouts
Green Onions, chopped

Bring entire can of chicken stock to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Pour about a half-cup of the hot chicken broth in a small serving bowl on the side. To this, add 1 tablespoons of the powdered dashi saimin broth (in the packet) and stir to fully dilute and combine. Garnish with green onion (this also adds flavor!).

To the chicken broth pot, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil once again. Once its boiling, add the fresh saimin noodles and cook until al dente, about 3-4 minutes. Drain noodles thoroughly (you can save the hot chicken stock & water to cook another serving by pouring it out into another pot).

While the noodles are cooking, in a small cup or bowl, combine the shoyu, oyster sauce, diluted dashi saimin broth and oil together using a spoon, whisking briskly to infuse the oil with the other ingredients. This is the key component in the dish, so the better you mix it and taste it to your liking, the better!

Immediately after draining, place hot, cooked noodles into a large mixing bowl. Now drizzle the soy, oyster, dashi and oil sauce mixture slowly (emphasize SLOWLY!) onto the noodles and toss to evenly c0at. Add just enough to taste, better underdoing it than overdoing it. Go by the feel of the force, Jedi master. lol But seriously, do that.

Then add sauce-coated cooked saimin noodles to serving bowl and top with all your garnishes. Serve immediately while hot along with the side bowl of broth. Enjoy.


The Tasty Island’s Project Dry Mein

In summarizing this Dry Mein’s deconstructed and reconstructed project, the noodles are absolutely the star of the dish, to which the Sun Brand “Nama” style saimin is the preferred choice, to the best I’d consider based on what I’m told about it. It’s not quite as thick or same in profile as Sam Sato’s, but close enough to pull it off. Especially the flavor and texture of it.

Another key is getting the “sauce” that you toss the noodles with, right. You can most certainly play around a bit with the recipe to make it your own. Perhaps add ginger. Less shoyu. More Oyster Sauce. In fact, I even added a dash of Chinese style abalone sauce to mines, and it was really ono!

But those core ingredients listed in this recipe should get you on your way to a great Dry Mein. I thought so.

It would be great to hear from all you Sam Sato Maui regulars on your take on the Dry Noodles, and how you would decontruct the dish, and whether this recipe sounds on the money.

Until I get to Sam Sato’s myself, I think it’s darned close.


Comments

Project Dry Mein — 19 Comments

  1. OMG, your version looks absolutely divine!!! Just my 2 cents’ worth – perhaps a dash of sesame oil in the sauce as well?
    Happy New Year :)

  2. Pomai,

    I’ve never tried Sam Sato’s noodles before but just by looking at the picture you provided, it looks very similar to fried saimin with broth on the side. Something you’d find at Sekiya’s in Kapahulu but with added soup stock in a bowl? Here in LA, I used to order braised noodles with soup but that was a long time ago and no one seems to have it any more. I think it may have been an “old school” dish? I’m imagining that one could toss the cooked saimin noodles with either oyster sauce or dark soy and a little dashi for flavoring to get similar effects? Garnishing it with char siu, green onions, kamaboko, and sliced egg omelet would really kick it up a notch…yum!

  3. Pomai,
    That recipe of your is how my Chinese mom make but no dashi in it or kamaboko. Egg sheets instead. There no wrong way of making it your own special recipe. I like your it Tasty Island .

  4. Hey bra, I really like all your stuff. Been lookin at all the blogs. What happened too Burgerland drive-in and Patty’s Chinese Kitchen ? Your post’s are like coming home…

  5. Secret sauce consist of 1/3 cup shoyo, 1/3 cup oil, 2 tbsp. oyster sauce and pepper. noodle to be used is iwamotos fresh noodle made in paia not sure if there sold on the outer islands.

  6. Ah kaiola, not secret anymore! :-)

    That’s how I make my chow fun only I add some crushed garlic to it (and some sesame oil which is optional). I normally marinate it before braising which helps to absorb the ingredients just before cooking.

  7. Pomai Dude Man,

    You cooking again? Awesome recipe. Must tell you the thing about bean sprouts is it spoil easy. It must eaten right away and not sit too long. I try it with chow fun and it went bad after few hour or next day. So use it when eaten fresh and right away only. Humid weather cause it.

  8. Howzit Kelike, nah, not cooking. More like “making”. There’s a difference! I agree about the bean sprouts, they do spoil rather quickly, not lasting more than 3 or 4 days in the fridge. I gotta’ try storing them in those green bags. Those buggahz really work!

    Clinton, you marinade and BRAISE your chow fun? Wow, that’s a first for me!

    Kaiola, that recipe ratio sounds about right. Different than what I came out with, but workable. I think more oil helps to keep the noodles from sticking together. I did mention Iwamoto Noodle Factory in Paia in my surrogate review about Sam Sato’s. I’m sure if you try the Sun Noodle saimin brand, you’ll be satisfied with its flavor. Only thing, it isn’t as thick as the one Sam Sato’s uses. But the flavor is spot-on (according to my girlfriend). But anyway, I’ll try that “sauce” recipe you gave on my next run. Mahalo for that!

    Nate, there’s a curry-flavored Dashi? That sounds interesting! I’ll look for that next time I go Marukai. They have like a gazillion different types of dashi.

    Skip, Burgerland on Monsarrat closed long time ago. It’s now called Diamond Head Grill under new ownership. Still get W&M on Waialae, which isn’t quite the same, but similar style teri burger. Patty’s pulled out of Ala Moana, but they still have one location remaining in Pearlridge, and are still run by the same owners.

    Erica, yeah, this dry mein dish is fairly flexible, but I’m trying to duplicate Sam Sato’s flavor as close as a possible. An attempt probably futile until I get there myself to taste it.

    Hi Kat. Thanks!

    Clinton, next time I’m in the area, I’ll drop into Sekiya’s and ask if they have some sort of Dry Mein dish like you described. That would be the kind of place to have that! I’m just a little reluctant to eat there after the recent news about their sanitary practices.

    Hi Chien, yeah, I thought about adding sesame oil, and even grated
    ginger, but that would totally deviate from Sam Sato’s flavorings. Still would be ono though! Maybe mo’ ono than Sam’s!

  9. Val, how was your lunch at Sam Sato’s? I bet was crowded!

    Dylan, Yamasa is my favorite “rice” shoyu. Kikkoman = too salty but good for cooking. Aloha = my second favorite after Yamasa.

    Kaleolani, I tried Hamura’s. They’re a-aight, but more hype if you ask me. Good, but nothing extraordinary. It reminded me of S&S Saimin. Oahu has so many Saimin stands, we’re spoiled, I guess.

  10. We are visiting Maui and got a tip from the girls in the Da Kitchen to go to Sam Soto’s. They said we had to go there for Dry Mein noodles, I wasn’t even sure I knew what that was. Since this is one of our favorite things to do, hunt down off the beaten path places that are good eats, we were on our way. A hunt it was, we had to stop and ask a fireman for directions and he was all excited “Oh da best dry noodle” ok, were not giving up, we found it and it was worth it the trip! I left thinking I am going to make this at home! I got on line and found your site! Too funny, I thought it would be very simple, but looking at your attempts thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to get home and try your version. I will let you know how it compares. I just hope I can find the noodles. Should i buy them here to take home?

  11. Lisa Dee, YES, if you’re still in Maui, head to Ah Fook’s Supermarket in Kahului. They carry Iwamoto Natto Factory brand Undried Saimin. It’s the exact same noodle Sam Sato uses at their restaurant for their Dry Noodle.

    See my post about it here:

    http://tastyislandhawaii.com/blog/2009/06/17/paia-eats-iwamoto-natto-factory-undried-saimin/

    I’d also highly recommend the Sun Noodle brand saimin that’s also showcased in that post. Check it out. You can get that one in bulk at all Hawaii Costco locations (including one in Kahului, Maui).

  12. Sam Sato’s Dry Mein Noodles is the BEST. I still remember the taste! Just the noodles by itself is good, no need the broth! Oh yeah, you didn’t mention the Manju! It’s great too! Very good after dinner dessert.

  13. Yummmmy – makes me want to go and eat a big bowl of noodles. My husband is a private chef he has started to use tofu noodles which are actually pretty good and really low fat but its not as rewarding as eating the REAL DEAL

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