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ISLAND HISTORY: A history of the famous Hamura Saimin restaurant

Kaua‘i’s Hamura Saimin restaurant was opened for business by Mr. &Mrs. Charles Susumu Hamura (1906-80) and Aiko Hamura (1910-2002) in a converted Army barracks on Kress Street, Lihu‘e, in 1952.

And, it remains open for business today, 70 years later, at that very same location.

Their granddaughter, Lori Tanigawa, now runs the business.

Aiko Hamura was born in Puunene, Maui, and got her start in business during the 1940s by selling fruits, vegetables and her homemade saimin noodles to customers in sugar plantation camps in the Lihu‘e area.

Her daughter-in-law, Jean Hamura, noted she drove a black Ford sedan with the back seat taken out to make room for her goods while making her rounds of the camps.

Only after she’d perfected her homemade secret-recipe saimin broth did she and her husband, born at Kealia, Kaua‘i, open Hamura Saimin for business.

But, it was rough going financially for them for about 18 months in the beginning.

Their daughter, Hazel Hiraoka, once said, “In those days, lucky if they sold five bowls a night.”

However, business picked up as word spread around Kaua‘i about the quality of their saimin.

Hazel said, “We are popular because our saimin and soup are the best. People like it because they can come in shorts. They feel at home.”

She also recalled that years ago, Hamura Saimin would stay open until 4 or 5 a.m., catering to people getting off late from work, and drinkers and partygoers.

“People would call my dad and say, ‘Don’t close. We’re bringing a gang,’” and her father would serve saimin until they left.

Today, and for the longest time, people from Kaua‘i, the state of Hawai‘i, and around the world continue to stop by Kress Street to enjoy Aiko Hamura’s saimin.

Hamura Saimin makes their own saimin noodles and, of course, the secret broth, served with such delicacies as green onions, ham, fish cake, shrimp, vegetables, wontons, roast pork, and eggs.

Charles and Aiko Hamura had four children: Charles Hamura, Herbert Hamura, Mrs. Noboru (Hazel) Hiraoka, and Mrs. Daniel (Doris) Hironaka.
Source: The Garden Island

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