Chinese Chow Mein: An International version of Chinese noodle

person cooking noodles

Chow mein is typical Chinese noodles that well known by many countries in different ways. The dish is famous throughout Chinese culture and appears on the menus of most Chinese restaurants. It is particularly popular in India, Nepal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The name “Chow Mein” (in Mandarin “ch’ao mien”) means “stir-fried noodles,” and originated in Northern China. While the chow mein served in American Chinese restaurants has been altered to appeal to Western tastes, it is based on an authentic Chinese dish of stir-fried vegetables with boiled noodles.

Chinese American cuisine: Revised Chow Mein for American’s

Chow mein is originally from China but it’s revised by Chinese immigrants when they came to America.

In Chinese American cuisine, it is a stir-fry dish composed of noodles, meat (chicken is the most common, but pork, beef, shrimp, or tofu substituted sometimes), onions, and celery. Often served as a specific dish in western Chinese restaurants. Vegetarian or Vegan Chow Mein is also common.

There are two main types of chow Mein in US :

  • Steamed chow mein

:Steamed chow mein has a softer texture, while steamed chow mein is cleaner and drier. Chow mein uses crispy French fries, flat noodles, while sweet chow mein uses long, rounded noodles.

It’s very common and typical style Chinese noodle when you order Chinese delivery and it became even more famous in US because of Panda express. I will review this franchise next time.

  • Crispy chow mein (Hong Kong-style chow mein.) 

Crispy chow mein either has onions and celery in the prepared dish or is served “tough,” without vegetables. Steamed chow mein can have several different kinds of veggies in the cooked meal, most often including onions and celery, but sometimes carrots, cabbage, and mung bean sprouts as well. 

There is a regional difference in the United States between the East and West Coast use of the term “chow mein.” On the East Coast, “chow mein” is still the crispy or “Hong Kong-style”. 

Steamed chow meinThe crispy version of chow mein served in a burger style as a chow mein sandwich.

Crispy chow mein

There is a regional difference in the United States between the East and West Coast use of the term “chow mein.” On the East Coast, “chow mein” is still the crispy or “Hong Kong-style”. 

The crispy version of chow mein served in a burger style as a chow mein sandwich.

There are also different ways of chow mein preparation. When ordering “chow mein” in some Chicago restaurants, a dinner may receive “chop suey poured over crispy fried noodles.”

  • Philadelphia chow mein tends to be similar to chop suey.
  • Jeremy Iggers of the Star Tribune describes mein-style Minnesota chow as “a green mush of celery and ground pork topped with ribbons of gray processed chicken. 

It is often confused with chop suey; a dish mislabelled as chow mein sometimes served in American restaurants, soda fountains in drugstores, school canteens, senior citizen facilities, and military chow hall bases. In many cases, this particular dish was served over rice and did not include noodles.


Different type of international Chow Mein

Chinese Canadian Cuisine 

Western Canadian Chinese restaurants can offer up to three different types of chow mein, none of which is identical to either of the two styles of American chow mein.   

Canadian style chow mein
  • Cantonese style chow mein based on crispy fried golden egg noodles, green peppers, pea pods, bok choy, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, shrimp, Chinese roast pork, chicken and beef, and served in a thick sauce. 
  • Plain chow mein is similar to other western mein chow but contains much more mung bean sprouts.
  • Canadian Hong Kong chow mein style is similar to simple chow mein but still served with crispy fried golden egg noodles.  

The Japanese Canadian community also have their version of chow mein which could include dried ginger seaweed and vinegar preserves and served in a bun.

Japanese Brazilian cuisine 

Chow mein was brought to Brazil by Japanese immigrants and called as well as yakisoba. It is more similar to the North American versions of chow mein. Brazilian yakisoba served with heavy soy sauce, sesame oil, and vegetables. It contains carrots, cabbage, onion, and dark green like kale, collard, spinach, chicory, or mustard). Besides Chinese cabbages, and bean sprouts, broccoli, zucchini, pepper, or cucumber.

Chinese Indian Cuisine

In India, it introduced by the Chinese from Calcutta

  • Indian vegetable chow mein contains noodles and cabbage, bamboo, pea pods, green peppers, and carrots.  
  • In New Delhi, chow mein include breading with a mixture of noodles and vegetables.  
  • Another non-meat Indian variant includes scrambled eggs as a source of protein.  
  • Kolkata dish called Calcutta Chow Mein or Calcutta Chow mein that includes green chili pepper, chili garlic, garlic, or hot.

Caribbean Chinese cuisine 

Many Caribbean people understand mein chow in their cooking, especially the people of islands like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica with a large ethnic Chinese population; much of the gastronomy itself has infused into the general population. Also, in the South American countries of Guyana and Suriname, the culture and cuisine are similar to the Caribbean.  

Chow mein cooked similarly, with green beans, carrots, peas, onions, and sometimes other vegetables. The meat used is mostly chicken and sometimes pork or shrimp. The only difference is the local spices.

Chinese Mexican cuisine 

Chow mein has gained popularity in Mexico, which has received waves of Chinese immigrants in the past, especially in northwestern Mexico. Mexicali, a city in Baja California, is known for its distinct style of chow mein, which generally use Mexican ingredients as substitutes for traditional Chinese, an adaptation that was made by the Chinese immigrants settling in the region.

Nepalese Chinese cuisine

The Tibetans who settled in Nepal brought chow mein with them. It’s a popular fast food in Nepal. Chow mein cooked with onions, vegetables, and buff (water buffalo meat).

Peruvian Chinese cuisine

Chinese food ( Chifa ) is popular in Peru and is now part of the traditional Peruvian culture. Chow mein called  Tallarín salteado and may contain peppers, onions, green onions, and tomatoes.


Healthier way to eat Chow mein

The seasoned Mom’s Blair suggested a “Healthy version of Chow mein with chicken”. This Healthy Chicken Chow Mein recipe is a classic Chinese-inspired dish that you can feel good about feeding your family! Packed with veggies, protein, and pasta, this complete meal comes together easily thanks to a simple sauce and a quick stir-fry method.


Noodles are one of the base ingredients in Chinese recipes. Cooked in different ways, they always find a place at the table. Chow mein is one of the most popular dishes on the Asian continent and in many other countries. 

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