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L&L Saimin Burger

Ramen Burger vs. Saimin Burger?

If you’re a regular reader of the Honolulu Star Advertiser, you probably read the “scoops” by Erika Engle this past week about L&L facing legal action over an eMail L&L had circulated that contained a video clip of Jeff Shimamoto promoting his brother Keizo’s now nationally-famous Ramen Burger on Hawaii News Now’s “Sunrise” program. Being that Jeff-San is an attorney, he decided to file a lawsuit against L&L for the “personal misappropriation of his likeness by L&L to promote its own product”. Ehem, cough-cough.

What I found particularly interesting (or of non-interest) in the article, is there was no mention about the Tanaka Saimin Burger (read the comments in that post for some VERY interesting stuff about Yours Truly), which came WAY before L&L jumped on the concept, or let alone, Keizo-San “inventing” (marketing) the Ramen Burger.

That said, the case ended up being dropped by the interested parties, so that’s that on that. There’s lawsuits waiting to happen all over the internet, which we’ll see what and who’s involved next. Heh.

Moving along to the immediate subject at hand, we have L&L Hawaiian Barbecue’s take on the Saimin Burger…

Notice the choice for your L&L Saimin Burger of either BBQ chicken (not ground), a “Ham” Patty, which really should be straightforward by saying it’s a hamburger patty (if hardly true as you’ll find out later), and Teri’ (yaki) steak. Oh man, I so bet the Teri’ Steak version of the Saimin “Burger” would rock!

Yet, being the purist that I am when it comes to burgers, it’s all about 100% ground BEEF, baby. Or is it? We shall soon find out.

So I got my L&L Saimin Burger from the Iwilei L&L Hawaiian Barbecue location, in the same parking lot where Costco is, right next door to Quiznos….

A quick 5 minute walk back to the office, and voila…

Open it up… oooooohhhh….. ahhhhhhhh……

Let’s get in for a close inspection…

The Saimin “bun” with the teriyaki sauce slathered all over it looks MONEY…

Further into the deconstruction, the “hamburger patty” has nice “crustification” (as Guy Fieri would say), while the chopped green onions surely adds a nice saimin-like touch…

You know The Tasty Island rules, gotta’ get the cross-cut shot…

If you’re wondering how big it, here it is to scale in my hands (I’m 5’9″ with average sized men’s hands; and don’t judge anything else in size further than that. lol)…

OK, enough photographic analytics, let’s do this. Hai, itadakimasu…

And? The saimin “bun” is EXCELLENT, albeit way too small. I mean, common’ man, noodles are cheap in cost, so don’t skimp. Sheesh. Especially the bottom saimin noodle “bun” was way too thin, where I could hardly grasp it in my hand.

Other than its rather smallish slider-like size, the Saimin “bun” was a winner, having a perfectly crisp-fried finish on the flattop, while its texture inside was wonderfully glutenous, and flavor profile being purely as advertised, tasting like saimin noodles, albeit in compacted hamburger “bun” form. Best of all, it had great integrity, with the noodles being “glued” together, yet having their own individual “noodleness”. Wow, that was deep! lol

Where they entirely dropped the ball was the “hamburger patty” (yes, that needed quotation marks), as it just plainly SUCKED. Way too thin, way too overcooked (well-done? Ouch!), and tasting like ground beef mixed with cardboard. On top of that (both literally and figuratively speaking), the “teriyaki sauce” was a complete joke. All it tasted like was shoyu (some cheap @ss brand) thickened with cornstarch and that’s it. No sugar, no mirin, no miso, nor ginger or anything else to give it character. This “Teri’ Sauce” was straight-up, CHARACTERLESS. It didn’t even help flavor the fries, the ketchup packet was that much better.

The leaves of Iceberg Lettuce helped a little in giving the overall Saimin Burger some freshness, yet then that takes away from the concept of it being a “Saimin Burger”, whereas the Tanaka Saimin Burger fully grasps the concept by using watercress. Then again, I like the idea of lettuce, but if you add that, make it a total “Saimin Burger Deluxe” by also including tomato (thick-cut), onion and melted American Cheese.

“Bigger & Better”?  Sorry L&L, but the Tanaka Saimin Burger has you beat on all accounts in that regard.

Summing it up, Mr. Flores, if you read this, please REQUIRE your franchisees to use 100% ground beef that’s hand-pattied in-house. Especially if they’re charging $4.99 for just the saimin burger alone. There’s easily profit margin in there, and the sales volume will increase exponentially if you get the burger patty right in this here L&L Saimin Burger. Also, make sure there’s an ample amount of Saimin Noodle “Bun”. Have Sun Noodle premake them for your franchises for more cost efficiency. Better burger patty and more noodles in the excellent Saimin Burger “bun”, and you’ll have a winner with the L&L Saimin Burger.

I did really enjoy the perfectly cooked (deep-fried) and seasoned side order of crinkle-cut fries though!

L&L Saimin Burger
Purchased at the Iwilei L&L Hawaiian Barbecue location (next to Costco)

The Tasty Island rating:

(1) Average

Related Links:

• Oki Burger

From Okinawa to West Oahu, the Oki Burger exclusive Tasty Island recipe coming soon!

Tanaka Saimin Burger

• L&L’s New Hawaiian (Katsu) Hamburger

Kalihi Eats: Palace Saimin

Toodles! ;-)


16 thoughts on “L&L Saimin Burger

  • February 9, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Well, ramen burger is charge 7.00 in mainland and L&L saimin burger is under 5.00. L&L taste is better for improve on it to ramen burger. Glad it settle for customers can just enjoy it.

    • February 9, 2014 at 7:45 am


      Well Amen for for the comment. I thought there would be folks chiming in on the lawsuit, wihich is what I was really interested in discussing.

      $7.00 (or probably higher at most other places) is absolutely ridiculous for a ramen burger. I’d much rather spend 2 to $3 more and get a full bowl of authentic Japanese Ramen. Or less than that at $6 for an XL bowl of Palace Saimin.

  • February 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    The lawsuit is interesting, but what I find most interesting is that the guy who invented the “grilled noodle bun burger*” didn’t submit a patent application like the day after he presented the burger. He’s probably kicking himself now, and all frivolous lawsuits probably stem from that frustration.

    * generic name to satisfy all possible interpretations to protect intellectual property

  • February 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm


    Frivolous indeed. Especially over a video embedded in an eMail that wasn’t even produced by their company, but by a local TV news station (Hawaii News Now). It’s not like L&L used the tag line “Bigger & Better than Keizo Shimamoto’s Go-Ramen Burger” in their promotional material to “intently defame the plaintiff”.

    I believe with the judicial system, karma will bite your @ss like no tomorrow. You will absolutely reap what you sow, and it will all come to light through the expertise of the trial attorneys.

    I served as a Juror once not long ago at Honolulu First Circuit Court for a domestic case. My dad was a cop in Hilo, and left the police force almost exclusively because of domestic calls, which according to Dad, in Hilo back in the day, were VERY frequent. Probably not much different today, especially with FB/Social Media messing relationships up, as from what I understand by current HPD statistics. Anyways, Dad went on to become a successful executive, so C’est la vie.

    That said, being a Juror taught me a lot about the justice system from a judge’s perspective. It was one of the best things I ever did in my life, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

    It’s very tough being picked as a juror. You have to come across by both the prosecutor and defendant’s attorney as being completely unbiased. NOT an easy thing. That I am, very unbiased, and I believe fair and moral. Oh, you also have to be akamai (smart / sharp / cognizant / focused) too, in order to be a juror.

    In fact, it took as long to pick the jury panel (in this case 8 people) than it did for the actual trial. And it took equally as long for us jurors to come out with a unanimous verdict, where one juror didn’t want to budge and we almost got hung. But we ended up with a verdict we were all confident was the right one. Never before have I felt people’s lives were in my hands (as well as all the others on our panel) than serving as a Juror.

  • February 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Probably the reason there was no follow through on the lawsuit was because Keizo Shimamoto moved to Japan to study ramen and during his studies it was in Japan he discovered a pork sandwich made with fried ramen patties used as bread.

    He copied the concept and substituted the pork with a hamburger.

    The fried ramen concept is most closely associated with Fukushima Prefecture. As a matter of fact, the region’s famed Kitakata ramen serves as the base for the widely imitated burger from Furusato-tei restaurant in Kitakata City (www.furusatosinkou.co.jp). Noodles envelop a pork filling and such ramen toppings as naruto (fish cakes) and menma (bamboo shoots), drizzled with a soy-flavored sauce. Lest anyone think they’re not serious about the ramen burger, Furusato-tei’s owners have received a trademark for it.

    After reviewing photos of all the ramen burgers out there I have one question for Mr. Flores L&L saimin burger; “Where’s the beef”?

  • February 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm


    Yeah, I remember seeing another version of the Ramen Burger that was made in Japan, where instead of using ground beef, it used a whole slice of Chashu smothered in concentrated Ramen Broth Sauce. Looked ONO! It had to have been done in Japan first.

    Imagine if someone trademarked the “SPAM Musubi” name? I heard nobody can market “Huli Huli Chicken” under that name, as the owner of the Huli Huli Chicken brand will go after you. Churches who did do that had to settle out of court, or something like that.

    ‘K ‘den, I going name ’em “Huli Maka Flip ‘Kine Chicken”. Or how about “Turn-Turn Chicken Burn”? I bet it would sell like gangbusters!

    Wow, you sure did your homework on the background of fried ramen and origins in Japan of the Ramen Burger. Sure enough, the Kitakata Ramen Burger is the real homeland deal!


    Yes, Mr. Flores, where’s the beef?! That patty was just unacceptable.

    • February 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm


      When I read about Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Burger I had to find out when he created it. In promoting his Ramen Burger he pretty much told his whole like story on the internet in interviews. He admitted he first saw a version of his ramen burger in Japan made with pork but he did not say there was another Japanese fast food chain, Lotteria and Menya Musashi that made the ramen patties with beef hamburg inside.

      What also got my attention were his threats against anyone who dared to make knock-off copies of his “trademarked Ramen Burger” also his brother’s public intent to file a lawsuit against L&L.

      The question is did the United States Patent and Trademark Office grant a trademark to Keizo Shimamoto for “ramen burger” when there is already a trademark granted in Japan to Furusato-tei’s owners and if they did it is like granting a trademark for “ramen pho,” a combination of two general terms in which at least one is a generic foreign term. Would the USPTO allow the trademarking of “noodle burger?”

      The idea that all parties settled out of court makes me think there are smoke and mirrors going on here!

      My understanding is the “Huli Huli Chicken” trademark is for real.

      Interesting Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Burger sells in NYC for $8 and $8 in CA but when he came to HI he sold for $10. In HI we have all the ingredients (Sun Noodles) here on the islands he needed and the chef he worked with at Taste even created a pork patty (Japanese taste) to go along with his ramen burger so I don’t think he can say he had to fly raw product from NYC to HI to justify the extra $2.

      Ramen burger is all about NYC media hype!!

      • February 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm


        “Smoke and Mirrors” was also what came first to my mind.

        Keizo-San probably needed to tack on the extra $2/burger to help fund the exorbitant cost of airfare, hotel and rental car while on his brief visit to Honolulu.

        • February 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm


          I just checked the United States Patent and Trademark Office database. Keizo Shimamoto applied for a trademark for “Go Ramen Burger” and it has not been granted but released to general public for opposition comment to the use of “Ramen Burger” Jan 21, 2014.

          If no one opposes, Keizo Shimamoto will be able to trademark the word use of “Ramen Burger”.

          • February 9, 2014 at 8:16 pm

            But did he file a patent? The trademark won’t do much for him in terms of cashing in, it will just secure his own marketing potential. If he patented it, places would have to pay him a licensing fee just to sell a sandwich with a noodle bun.

            There are companies that patent all sorts of things they never intend to make or market, The companies actually don’t make or market anything, their only business is patenting ideas, just so they can go after people who thought they came up with the idea and make and market it, and charge them a licensing fee. They also beat people to the patent office if they release new ideas w/o patenting them first, so they steal the idea and patent it, then contact the inventor and say “you owe us a licensing fee” (of course if that came under scrutiny, those patent houses usually don’t win in court).

      • February 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

        And Apple, Samsung and Google (Android) are as we know, the key contenders in that patent war.

        Coming from first-hand user experience having access to both devices, currently the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 absolutely SLAUGHTERS the Apple iPhone 5s. KILLS IT!!!!! Galaxy Note 3 for the WIN, baby!!!

        I want to patent “inverted square corners” for the next GUI interface. Much like Steve-O wanted with rounded corners.

  • February 10, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Being the burger fan that I am, I’m willing to try this, but NOTHING will ever replace a fresh baked bun for burgers.. This novelty sounds good, but I can’t see mixing cheese and bacon with fried noodles, also I am not a big fan of teriyaki sauce on burgers. That being said, when will Hilo L&L’s get this burger?

  • February 10, 2014 at 6:15 am


    That’s the problem with L&L: they’re inconsistent from location to location. Case-in-point, When the “Hawaiian” Katsu Burger came out, the Iwilei location had it, however when I dropped by the Ewa Beach location (next to Foodland; and in the area on BUSINESS), the workers there never even HEARD of it! WTH? Their franchising “rules” are too liberal if you ask me.

    • February 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      I haven’t seen the katsu burger nor the ramen burger here on Maui as well. Maybe it’s an Oahu thing?

      • February 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm


        Have you ever been to the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission Festival? Apparently a popular dish there is Chow Fun served in a paper cone. Neat-O! It’s featured in a Maui Cookbook that was given to me.

        • February 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

          Yep, been to the Wailuku Hongwanji obon a few times. We always get the chow fun and it is definitely the most popular dish there. We don’t buy the cone though, we buy the quart since it’s a better value. They also sell it at the Maui County Fair. I actually prefer the Makawao Hongwanji’s chow fun they sell at their obon. More pork and I like the seasoning better.


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