McDonald’s is known for offering regional dishes at its international stores to please local customers.
We recently heard of a certain McDonald’s that sells its own version of Japan’s favorite noodle dish, ramen. We wouldn’t think much of this if it were being served somewhere like Japan or China, countries typically associated with the dish.
However, it turns out this McDonald’s ramen is found in none other than the land of burgers and fries itself, America.
Well, Hawaii, to be precise.
The “ramen” is actually Saimin, a noodle dish very similar to Japanese ramen and a local Hawaiin favorite.
There are a few theories on the origins of Saimin, with some saying it was brought over from Japan by plantation workers in the early 20th century. In reality, Hawaii has seen waves of immigrant workers from so many different Asian countries that it could have come from anywhere—or maybe just combined a little of the best from everywhere.
Saimin has been on the McDonalds menu in Hawaii for years and rumor has it that it was actually the very first regional item to be offered on a McDonald’s menu anywhere.
Your reporter in Hawaii visited a McDonald’s to see how it stacks up with Japanese ramen and, honestly, it stacks up pretty well! The soup is a light, clear broth that’s refreshing and easy to drink. The noodles are slightly thick, similar to Japanese udon noodles, and don’t have that “bad noodle smell” you get with low-grade ramen.
It wouldn’t hurt if the noodles had a little more body, but altogether, McDonald’s Saimin so tasty that I’d go so far as to say it rivals the standard ramen sold at most restaurants in Japan! And it feels like a steal at only $3.29!
It seems not all McDonald’s in Hawaii have Saimin on the menu and not many people, especially tourists, know about it—after all, not everyone puts McDonald’s on their to-do list while visiting a foreign country. If you do happen to find yourself under the golden arches during your next Hawaii vacation though, we recommend skipping the familiar burger and fries for a cup of Saimin.
You can shaka us for it later.
[ Read in Japanese ]