Going from one extreme example of the dish with the Oxtail Saimin from Violet’s Grill, we find ourselves at the other side of that spectrum with Saimin from McDonald’s.
Yes my friends, you heard right, McDonald’s Saimin. In fact, three people double-took me when I told them I had saimin from McDonald’s for lunch. “Since when did they sell saimin?” is what most of them asked. Actually, as far as I can remember, come to think about it.
According to Wikipedia (yeah, I dig real deep for information, don’t I?), there’s quite an interesting story behind McDonald’s Saimin which goes like this: “[Foodland founder and first Hawaii McDonald’s owner Maurice] Sullivan invited executives from McDonald’s corporation, including owner business tycoon Ray Kroc, for dinner at two family-owned, “hole-in-the-wall” saimin stands in Honolulu. They ate at Washington Saimin and Boulevard Saimin. That night, Sullivan convinced Kroc to expand McDonald’s menu for the first time in its corporate history to include a local “ethnic” food. Researchers worked extensively with Washington Saimin to develop a recipe for McDonald’s Hawaii. Sullivan secured deals with a local saimin noodle factory, fishcake supplier and a Japanese company, Ajinomoto, to manufacture a special soup base.”
If this is true, then it looks like all those McDonald’s out there in the world serving the likes of McOz Burgers, McAloo Tikka Burgers, Maharaja Macs and other region-specific ethnic specialties can thank Boulevard Saimin and the late Washington Saimin for the corporation’s open-minded philosophy when it comes to their menu.
Saimin isn’t the only regional ethnic specialty for McDonald’s Hawaii either, as there’s been a number of experiments and mainstays. The Taro, Haupia and Mango Pie were all great, while there’s no denying that McDonald’s Hawaii breakfast menu item — McDonald’s Portuguese Sausage, Eggs and Rice — is here to stay for the long run. Good stuff!
Yet we’re here for McDonald’s apparently ambiguous Saimin, where for this, of all their numerous locations around the island, I chose the restaurant in Hawaii Kai Shopping center (Safeway, Longs, The Shack) to hook me up…
In case you still don’t believe me, ‘Saimin’ is right there in black and white on the menu board…
Probably the reason many folks don’t realize saimin is on the menu is that their eyes are too fixated on the french fries. While for those who don’t even know what ‘Saimin’ is is, they must be thinking “What are Saimin French Fries?”. lol
While I couldn’t get an exact size of the container from any of McDonald’s employees, including the manager, it’s pretty big, where I’m guessing at least 24 fluid ounces, yet possibly larger than that….
The McDonald’s Hawaii logo is neat, yet it would have been nice if it said ‘McSaimin’ or simply ‘McDonald’s Saimin’. A pair of chopsticks intertwined between the Golden Arches also would be a nice ethnic touch to the logo.
While I’m on a marketing roll, since fast food joints embrace the combo and value meal menu concept, another thing McDonald’s Hawaii might want to consider is creating a ‘Saimin Value Meal’, which would include a regular or teriyaki burger and/or fries, which is a combination popular with the locals. So popular, Zippy’s has a similar Saimin, Teri Beef Sandwich and Drink combo’ on their menu.
Currently McDonald’s is promoting their 1/3 Pound Angus Burgers, where one of them is a Teriyaki Angus Burger, but that was way too much burger for me on this sitting.
So I created my very own McDonald’s “Saimin Value Meal”, adding a McDouble Burger (2 regular patties and 1 slice cheese) and small fries off their Dollar Menu…
Like the ready-to-serve S&S and Okahara store-bought brands, McDonald’s Saimin looks to be preassembled and kept refrigerated until time of service. Simply add piping hot water, stir in broth packet and serve.
Now looking at the broth, I’m a little concerned, as it appears rather “light”…
In here, you have the standard saimin garnishes, including Kamaboko (fishcake; the pink and white “swirly” thing), Nori (roasted seaweed), Charsiu (Chinese roasted pork; red colored) and tamago (egg omelet).
After a moment of reflection (as if any fast food deserves that), I go in for a sip of the broth…
See how light that looks? Well not surprisingly it tasted light, as in watery. Very watered down. Too watered down. As if they took one of the Ajinomoto packets intended to make one bowl and made five bowls out of that. The flavor profile has a subtle hint of shrimp and dashi, with shrimp being more pronounced than dashi. Yet like I said, way, way too watered down. Almost like I was eating plain noodles in boiled water. I tried stirring it, thinking maybe the dashinomoto wasn’t mixed thoroughly, but that didn’t help. Shrimp-flavored hot water is the best way I can describe this worst example of saimin broth I’ve had in recent memory.
Let’s try the noodles…
A little soggy and heavily starchy. Essentially it tasted like “institution” noodles; something you’d get a school cafeteria or perhaps a prison. Definitely not what I’d expect from a true Saimin stand, which is supposedly where this recipe came from.
The very thin slice of kamaboko was also soggy, which was a bit weird, while the charsiu was tough and bland; yet I suppose that toughness was a plus in contrast to the texture of the noodles. The sliced egg omelet strips were also soggy and bland, continuing to detract and not help this sad bowl of saimin out at all.
This saimin was so “sad” I only could eat half of it, throwing the rest out. I hate to waste food, but I just couldn’t take any more of the “shrimp water” flavor of the broth and starchy-soggy, characterless noodles. Not good. So not good.
With that, McDonald’s Saimin doesn’t even make 1 SPAM Musubi, heading into MINUS territory. Either I just had a “lemon”, or they need to seriously reevaluate their Washington and Boulevard Saimin-sourced recipe.
As for the McDouble, it’s actually quite tasty and satisfying. The single slice of melted cheese is what makes it. I do notice though that it’s quite SALTY. To be exact, the McDouble packs in a whopping 390 calories, 19 grams of total fat, 8 grams saturated fat (42% of the daily value) and 920 milligrams of sodium (38% of the daily value). Wow. Of course that’s to be expected of cheap, processed food, which I try to keep to a minimum; emphasize TRY.
What can I say about McDonald’s Fries. Of all the fast food chains, in my opinion, they’re THE BEST. See, so I always have something nice to say, as with the bad (saimin), there’s always the good (burger and fries).
And to be fair, perhaps when I return to McDonald’s I’ll give the saimin a second chance and try it again to reinforce my findings.
P.S. Going from hot (saimin) to cold, check out my brand new “Costco-sized” refrigerator…
GE® ENERGY STAR® 25.4 Cu. Ft. Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Dispenser #GSHS5KGXSS
In the middle of renovating my kitchen, this was the perfect time to take advantage of the Hawaii Energy “Trade Up for Cool Cash” $250 rebate. The rules are to purchase a new Energy Star-qualified refrigerator in-store model at any Hawaii retailer between May 24 and June 24, 2010. With that, as you would imagine, refrigerator sales in Hawaii were brisk during this time period and the rebate forms ran out much sooner than the June 24th deadline, along with the money allocated for the rebate program.
In order for the rebate to be valid, the delivery company must stamp the form (see box on the bottom right), stating that they delivered the new Energy Star refrigerator and hauled away your old “clunker”. So yes, this was another form of “cash for clunkers”.
And boy was my old refrigerator a CLUNKER! It certainly wasn’t big enough for my weekly Costco and KCC Farmers’ Market runs, but now I got 25.4 cubic feet of space, baby! Well, of course that’s not the BIGGEST you can get, but it’s big enough for my current needs and a considerable upgrade in every sense from what it’s replacing.
Here’s a look inside…
On the refrigerator side there’s dual level lighting, 2-stack drawer freshness center, spill-proof slide out shelves, gallon size door storage and a convenient in-the-door beverage can holder.
What I like most is the side-by-side design, compared to my old refrigerator’s freezer-on-the-top style. I don’t care much for the new French Door style with the freezer on the bottom. I prefer having the multi-level shelves in the freezer the side-by-side design affords.
On the freezer door is the filtered water and crushed or cubed ice dispenser…
Here you can check the actual temperature, which is recommended to be set at 0ºF for the freezer and 37ºF for the refrigerator, or you can adjust it colder or warmer to your liking. I’m keeping it at default for maximum energy efficiency and life expectancy of the unit.
Here’s an angle view, where you can see beautiful sheen of the Stainless Steel doors…
While some stainless steels can be magnetic, this is the type that isn’t. What this is, is GORGEOUS. The quality of the brushed stainless stamping that makes up the doors’ exterior skin is first-rate and virtually FLAWLESS, and the included Cera Bryte® Stainless Steel polish really brings out its lustre and beauty. The curved extruded stainless steel handles area also an industrial work of art, as is the stainless steel bezel surrounding the ice and water dispenser.
The sides and top of the cabinet are regular steel, painted in a glossy light gray enamel to somewhat match the stainless steel door fronts. It’s here you can stick your magnets, provided the sides are exposed, which it will only be on one side in my kitchen layout.
According to the US Government Energy Guide label attached to it, this model consumes an estimated 578 kilowatts of electricity per year with a $62 per year estimated operating cost (depending on local utility rates). That’s certainly much cheaper than my air conditioner! Perhaps from now on when I need to cool off I’ll go hang out in my new fridge. lol
It also runs exceptionally quiet, with only a mute fan sound.
Free delivery, free haul-away, 10% off Energy Star discount, plus Hawaii Energy “Trade Up for Cool Cash” $250 rebate and low power consumption sounds like a good deal to me.
Now to find the GE stainless steel free-standing range and microhood to match. I know Sears got ’em, but I’m gonna’ shop around some more.