Tanaka Saimin Yay or Nay?

After a fun run with my fabulous crew, Mike and I went to run some errands and grab a bite to eat. I have heard from many that Tanaka Saimin has not been the greatest, but we were in the neighborhood and decided to give it a try. When we first sat down, the server was very friendly and we received water right away. This is important as we just came from running. 🙂  It was pretty busy for a Tuesday evening at 7PM.

Tanaka Saimin has an extensive menu ranging in hot noodles, cold noodles, sandwiches, salads and breakfast classics. Before we go further, I must clarify that there is a difference between saimin and ramen. Wikipedia explains it best:

Ramen (ラーメン, rāmen?, IPA: ˈrä-mən) is a Japanese noodle dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork (チャーシュー, chāshū?), dried seaweed (海苔, nori?), kamaboko, green onions, and occasionally corn. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyūshū to the miso ramen of Hokkaidō.

Saimin is a noodle soup dish unique to Hawaii. Inspired by Japanese udon, Chinese mein, and Filipino pancit, saimin was developed during Hawaii’s plantation era. It is a soup dish of soft wheat egg noodles served in hot dashi garnished with green onions. Kamaboko, Char siu, sliced Spam, linguiça, and nori may be added, among other additions.

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Mike ordered the Kim Chee Saimin ($6.45) and I ordered the Kayaku Udon ($8.00). The Kim Chee Saimin was okay, the soup/broth was regular saimin broth and there was a side of kim chee for the customer to add to the dish. There were bits of char siu that brought out some flavor. The saimin noodles were “so-so” Mike claims that it tastes like something you could get at a Chinese restaurant. Mike also tried the hot sauce they had at the table, an from his photo, it is hot, hot, HOT!

My Kayaku Udon seemed promising as I loved everything in the dish. It included won bok, mustard cabbage, and tofu aburage. The soup/broth tasted the same as Mike’s. There was not anything really special about the dish  however, the udon noodles which tasted okay. It was kind of pricey considering there is a lack of flavor in the soups.

I did not try anything else, however Ed Morita from Nonstop Hawaii reviewed this place and said that fish tempura sandwich was one of the better items to order. I would agree with Michael Choy that Tanaka Saimin is not a place that would be my first pick. I would give this place 3 stars out of 5, nothing is out-of-this-world. I could not vote yay nor nay-Tanaka Saimin get and “okay” from me. For those of you that are craving for noodles, I would recommend Ed Morita’s review on ramen.

Tanaka Saimin
888 N. Nimitz Highway

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