- Kauai, HI -
After a quick hike on the island, Matias and I really cooked up an appetite. As usual, I searched away on Yelp and decided to head on over to Saimin Dojo in Kapaa. Oddly enough, this was the first time I saw Saimin Dojo on a Yelp search for vegan restaurants around Kauai - but it was probably one of the best finds I have ever made. Saimin Dojo is an up and coming ramen joint that isn’t entirely vegan - like most restaurants we came across - but has vegan options. More specifically, Saimin Dojo offers a wide variety of traditional Saimin, which is a famous local noodle soup.
The restaurant itself pays homage to traditional Japanese culture. The decor features samurai armor along the walls along with other traditional Japanese art fixtures. Aside from the predominantly Japanese-influence, the restaurant showcases a lot of local events - such as fundraisers for recreational teams, how to support the humane society, and other great opportunities. This was one of the aspects of Saimin Dojo that set it apart from other restaurants we visited on our trip: it had a very local feeling and we loved it. Walking into the restaurant, we immediately felt the local vibe. This is one of those places on the island that seemed less touristy. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. There were even times when regular customers would stop by to pick up food and they would be greeted like family by the staff. Although the restaurant itself can get pretty busy at times, Matias and I never had any issues with wait times when we dined in and ordered takeout.
Now - the highlight of my experience of Saimin Dojo: the Vegan Saimin! Now, if you’ve read my local reviews, you’ll know that I have only had vegan ramen at one other restaurant at Hiro Nori Craft Ramen in Long Beach, so I was actually shocked to find a place that offered it while on vacation. And honestly, the vegan Saimin is right up there with the vegan ramen from Hiro Nori. Saimin is traditionally made of [insert ingredients]. The vegan Saimin features a combination of amazing ingredients that make for one hell of a dish. The flavors of the creamy coconut miso broth, savory greens, ramen, and local purple potatoes work so well together! The dish itself smells amazing and will fill you up. So make sure to come hungry! And what’s great about the ramen at Saimin Dojo is that you can enjoy it in the restaurant or as takeout and it will still taste just as good. I loved the vegan Saimin so much after the first time that I tried it that I had to pick some up to-go a few days later. If you have a large group, no worries - they offer family size options, so the sky’s the limit!
Overall I would rank Saimin Dojo as one of my favorite places to eat in Kauai. It offers food for everyone. Even gluten free noodles! The ambience, the food, the price - it was all worth it. So, if you are looking for a great local business in Kauai to support I would definitely recommend Saimin Dojo. I wish they had locations back in Los Angeles so I could eat there more often. They truly are that good! I know that Matias and I will definitely go back next time we visit Kauai, or at the very least recommend to all of you and any other friends and family that decide to visit the beautiful garden island anytime soon! Mahalo, Saimin Dojo!