Some travelers enjoy going the beaten path, choosing from the tried and true. They want the big-name restaurants and those located within bustling resorts. And there’s nothing wrong with such popular dining establishments. However, other travelers like to go off the glossy magazine recommendations and want instead to try out local flavors at local hole-in-the-walls. If you are this type of traveler, then Hamura Samin Stand ought to be on your Kauai travel itinerary.
Hamura Samin Stand first opened up in 1952 in a converted Army barracks on Lihue’s Kress Street, and it hasn’t moved since. Although, it has grown. Once, it boasted only six wooden stools surrounding a chef who cooked saimin to order, today the dining area boasts several long rows of tables with each table surrounded by more than six stools, and delicious saimin is still made to order.
Saimin is a Hawaiian soup dish that is similar to ramen but swaps out flat noodles for curly egg noodles and typically gets garnished with fish cake. The dish harkens back to the island’s plantation era when people were looking for something hot and delicious to make with noodles, and it has remained a very popular comfort food for islanders ever since.
There are a couple of things that make Hamura Saimin Stand stand out from other saimin restaurants. First, they use fresh noodles that are made daily down the street at a factory run by the same family that owns and operates the restaurant. Second, the broth is made from a family secret recipe and no other place in the islands can match it.
There is the Regular Saimin that one can order by size that includes sliced green onions, fish, and a side of fish cake.
Or, for a bit more substance, one can order the Special Saimin which includes the above along with vegetables, wontons, roast pork, and egg.
If you are really feeling hungry, opt for the Sumo Bowl Saimin Special — but you might need to grab a to-go container because this dish really comes supersized.
There are a few other entree menu items, but all saimin is served from the same base broth. Side items include BBQ beef sticks, BBQ Chicken Sticks, and Manapua, which are specialty dumplings served with pork, onions, and water chestnuts.
Hamura Saimin Stand is also beloved for its Lilikoi Chiffon Pie. Lilikoi Chiffon PIe is another Hawaiian-unique menu item and another beloved comfort food. This is a light and creamy pie made from lilikoi, which is also commonly called passion fruit. You can buy the Lilikoi Chiffon Pie from Hamura Saimin Stand by the slice or by the whole pie.
-This is a cash-only business. They don’t even have an on-site ATM, so make sure to come prepared before you order.
-Remember, this is a Hawaiian-take on ramen. Do not go here expecting authentic Japanese ramen. Not only are the noodles and garnishings different, but the broth is as well, being a blended mix of shrimp, pork, chicken, and often even scallop stock. All saimin menu items are made using this same broth.
-To that end, if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, or have any meat and fish-based allergies, this is not a good dining pick. While there is a basic Fried Noodles menu item, it comes stir-friend with bacon and a side of onions and ham.
-Hamura Saimin Stand, while getting some notice online and among reviewers, is still more of a local’s haunt. Visitors should not expect the same level of heightened customer service that they can expect at a resort restaurant or other dining establishment that caters more to tourists.
-Seating is cafeteria-style, and you will rub elbows with the locals and other travelers. When you walk in, you will seat yourself and a server will come to you.