Old-School Diners We Love: Shiro’s Saimin Haven

Not only ukuplanny saimins, brah. Get da Deka Boko Loko Moko, crispy pork belly and da bestest potato-mac salad too.


Shiros Saimin Exterior Lee Tonouchi

Photo: Lee Tonouchi


Dear Hearts,

How many friends will stick with you?
There’s many, when you are down, will say adieu.
So few will be there through thick and thin.
To them it doesn’t matter if you lose or win.
These are the friends to be truly treasured.
In words then cannot be measured.


Shiro “Mistah Saimin”


Das one of da many life lesson poems that Franz Shiro Matsuo penned. He wen open up Shiro’s Saimin Haven first in ‘Aiea Bowl in 1969, den in 1971 he wen move to da current location at Waimalu Shopping Center. Get one noddah location now in ‘Ewa Beach too. Long time ago used to get all of Mr. Shiro’s poems written by hand all thumbtacked to da wall. Over time da paper came brown and da ink faded, but I always thought that wuz part of da charm. When dey remodeled dey printed out his poems with fancy backgrounds and put ‘em in picture frames. His words of wisdoms continue for inspire new generations of customers.


Shiros Saimin More Poems Lee Tonouchi

Da walls at Shiro’s get Shiro’s poems, saimin-themed artwork by local artists and old photos of Shiro and lotta da longtime customers. Photo: Lee Tonouchi


Shiro’s mission was for elevate saimin from one snack food to one complete meal in itself. It’s hard for comprehend now, but it says on top their website that Shiro wuz da firstest for introduce vegetables into saimin, not to mention all kine oddah toppings. Most famous is all his ethnic kine creations, like da No. 24 Filipino Saimin that comes with pork adobo, da No. 20 Chinese Saimin that comes with Chinese roast pork, and da No. 22 Korean Saimin that comes with barbecue short ribs and kim chee. And den get da saimins named aftah famous celebrities like da No. 55 da Ron Mizutani, da No. 57 da Jesus Salud, or da No. 59 da Joe Moore which comes with roast duck. (That one always puzzled me, like why not put duck in da Chinese Saimin? I guess Joe Moore loves duck!) So amazing how da staff knows all da ukuplanny numbers by heart.


Shiros Saimin dodonpa Lee Tonouchi

Shiro’s Dodonpa. The Ultimate King of Saimins comes with 10 garnishes. Photo: Lee Tonouchi


Though Shiro’s stay known for having dozens upon dozens of different kine saimins, dey also serve all kine breakfast, lunch and dinner foods too. Dey get all da local staples like Hamburga Steak, Chicken Katsu, Pork Adobo, various Hawaiian Plates, and Loko Moko (yeah, he spells ’em li’dat). But why get one Loko Moko when you can get Shiro’s Deka Boko Loko Moko! Try say that 10 times fast. That one get CHREE hamburga patties, two eggs and gravy on rice.


SEE ALSO: Dis Is How Shiro’s Saimin Got Its Dry Mein On


Shiros Saimin Deka Boko Loko Moko Lee Tonouchi

How many hamburga patties get in Shiro’s Deka Boko Loko Moko?! Photo: Lee Tonouchi


I still love his playful wording that dey smartly decided for keep on top da menu. Like how Mr. Shiro wrote “Shiro’s Original Hula Hula Chicken (It’s Teriyakking Good!!)” or da “Chop Along Steak (Faster than Hop Along).” My favorite one is “Shiro’s Original Local Boy Beef Stew (With Meat Inside!!).” My faddah had to explain how Mr. Shiro wuz dissing da “beef” stews from oddah restaurants that hardly had any beef.


Shiros Saimin Poems Lee Tonouchi

Still get Shiro’s poems on top da walls of Shiro’s Saimin Haven. Photo: Lee Tonouchi


My faddah wuz cool like Da Fonz whenever we went to Shiro’s. We went so often that da hostess knew he wanted da corner booth by da register or da booth by da kitchen. If we saw one red Pontiac Sunbird in da parking lot, that meant we wuz probably going see Mr. Shiro sitting on his stool eating at da counter, back when dey used to have one coffee counter.


Family legend has it that when we catered my two years old birthday party from Shiro’s, da food wuz delivered by Mr. Shiro himself. He happened for bring along his trusty ‘ukulele, so impromptu-kine when he found out wuz my birfday, he joyously sang Happy Birthday to me. My relatives stay so old dey no can remembah da names of half my cousins, but yet dey clearly remembah that day. Dey be all like, “Lee-boy, you no remembah? How come you no remembah?!!” Uh, cuz I wuz two.


Shiros Saimin Pork Belly Lee Tonouchi

We love da Crispy Pork Belly so much we bring ’em to potlucks. But den everybody started copying us. Das bite, brah. Photo: Lee Tonouchi


Nowdays, like how my faddah used to bring me, I bring my childrens for eat at Shiro’s. My family’s faves include saimin of course (Shiro’s makes their own noodles in their own factory and their dashi stay supa ono), da Country Fried Noodles, and da deep-fried Crispy Pork Belly with Shiro’s Ponzu Sauce (dis one’s more new school).


SEE ALSO: You Voted: Here’s Your Top 5 Saimin Spots on O‘ahu


Shiros Saimin Beef Stew Lee Tonouchi

Local Boy Beef Stew + Potato Mac Salad = Winnahs! Photo: Lee Tonouchi


My personal favorite has always been their Local Boy Beef Stew, as one side order Stew Bowl with Rice, cuz you get more stew that way. An’den I get one side order of da Potato Mac Salad. On top da website it says Shiro’s wuz da first for use spaghetti noodles in his potato-mac salad. I wondah how come he nevah use saimin noodles, yeah? It’s so good that I even know people who go dea special on their way home from work for order takeout of JUST da potato-mac salad.


Shiros Saimin Da Original Lee Tonouchi

Da Shiro’s Original: Two scrambled eggs mixed with shoyu, green onions and dashi along with your choice of meat and starch. Photo: Lee Tonouchi


Da third generation of Shiro’s family stay running Shiro’s now. His grandson Bryce Fujimoto wen take over da operations and da penning of new poetry. He signs his poems as “Saimin Jr.” When we had our keiki’s two-year-old birthday party it wuz very important to me that we got da catering from Shiro’s. I wuz quite impressed when Saimin Jr. himself delivered da food. I know Mr. Shiro would’ve been proud.


So I told Saimin Jr. about how his grandfaddah sang Happy Birthday to me when I wuz two an’den how now my keiki wuz turning two. I wuz hoping maybe da grandson might provide us with some musical entertainments, but he just laughed and said “Yup, sounds like Grandpa.”


And with that story I leave you with some very important numbers. (808) 488-8824: Das da number for Shiro’s Restaurant and Catering. (808) 488-4834: Das da number for Shiro’s Waimalu Takeout.


And dis last number stay for Saimin Jr. (808) 732-3739: Das da phone numbah for Roy Sakuma ‘Ukulele Studios. I mean, you only gotta learn how play ONE song!


Multiple locations, shiros-saimin.com, @shirossaimin



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