What is "chow mein" in your 'hood?

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BT
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/01/25 22:20:53 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by membrane

Does anyone have a recipe for "B"? I just need a recipe for the celery "sauce".


The "sauce" in this stuff is usually not much more than a little broth (vegetable or chicken) and corn starch I don't believe. The vegetables themselves lean heavily on onions, celery and bean sprouts.
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membrane
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/01/26 02:37:59 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by BT

quote:
Originally posted by membrane

Does anyone have a recipe for "B"? I just need a recipe for the celery "sauce".


The "sauce" in this stuff is usually not much more than a little broth (vegetable or chicken) and corn starch I don't believe. The vegetables themselves lean heavily on onions, celery and bean sprouts.


Right, what I remember being in the sauce was celery, but no onions or sprouts. The sauce never tasted "meaty" but it did have a distinct flavor.
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/02/01 12:32:20 (permalink)
This thread got me remembering that when I was growing up in R.I., the Chinese restaurants always had the best Italian bread (which was kind of tough since restaurant choices were Italian, Italian Italian or Chinese). The popular story was they all had the same supplier and it was one of their biggest draws. I was shocked later in life to discover that Chinese restaurants don't always have bread.

So tripping carefully down memory lane I ran across the following recipe that sound alot like the version of (B) I grew up with http://www.pagesintime.com/ri/native.html (scroll to the bottom of the page). I recall seeing Oyster Sauce as the primary sauce ingredient in recipes when it was still popular, and my Dad always called it corn starch gravy, so this looks like it's on track (but the measurements are wacky).

I usually got chop suey (as most restaurants served little bowls of the fried nooodles, duck and mustard sauces, along with the bread, butter and tea when you were seated) but if I recall the chow mein was frequently a little darker colored (soy sauce?) and, yes, served on the noodles.

In the early 70s we became quite sophisticated, foregoing chop suey for Moo Goo Guy Pan and anything on the Polynesian side of the menu with Lychees.
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membrane
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/02/21 06:25:04 (permalink)
I'm still looking for the right "celery sauce" for chow mein. It looks like a big pile of brownish-green goop with celery (nothing else really in it).
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/02/21 12:01:24 (permalink)
At a more traditional Chinese restaurant here in Los Angeles, I usually see lo mein on the menu seperately. In the Chinatown and San Gabriel areas, I don't even see lo mein some of the time. At the "China wok Express" and most other of the fast food Chinese takeout places, they do call the lo mein "chow mein".
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/02/23 03:21:52 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by EdSails

At a more traditional Chinese restaurant here in Los Angeles, I usually see lo mein on the menu seperately. In the Chinatown and San Gabriel areas, I don't even see lo mein some of the time. At the "China wok Express" and most other of the fast food Chinese takeout places, they do call the lo mein "chow mein".


quote:
Originally posted by BT

I'm curious.

Is it (A) stir-fried (chow) spaghetti-like noodles (mein) with bits of meat and/or veggies; or is it (B) a gloppy mass of veggies and corn starch to be served with rice and little crispy packaged noodles?

I don't recall encountering anything but (B) on the east coast. Same in Arizona. But here in SF, you ask for "chow mein" you get (A). If/when (B) is available (that's rare), it is called "chop suey" which, I believe, may have been invented hereabouts as food for the imported Chinese working on the railroads. "Chop suey" was also available back east but was somehow distinguished from "chow mein". I was never sure of the difference.
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/01 15:33:49 (permalink)
Letter A is considered LO MEIN,since it is mainly veggies and meat mixed with noodles and sauce.Letter B ,well there is a chinese dish which is noodles that have been cooked,drained,and then stir fried till crispy to which meat and veggies in a sauce are poured over the top.This is chow mein.
Different regions of China each may have their own versions of chow mein.And yes,I have had the B version in various places. I have a chinese cookbook written by Lucy Ho in the 1950s for westerners living in China,reprinted by Dover Publications,so will look up what she calls Chow Mein and check a few older books.Chop Suey means bits and pieces. Two versions are told of how it came about.One is that a chinese cook invented the dish to use up odds and ends to feed hungry miners and such.Another version,in the Lucy Ho cookbook says that it was the cook of the Chinese Ambassador who unable to find the proper chinese ingredients,used what he could obtain to make a meal.
In San Antonio you get Letter B. At the majority of Chinese places here on their menus LetterA is plainly called Lo Mein.
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cornfed
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/01 16:11:45 (permalink)
I've lived in LA, SF, and NY. In LA, chow mein always meant to me noodles with vegetables and meat. When I got to San Francisco, chow mein became mushy bean sprouts replacing noodles with vegetables over white rice. In NY, same thing. The chow mein noodle dish that I grew up with in LA is "lo mein" in both San Francisco and New York, especially in NY. I am quite certain about this distinction because the horror I felt when "chow mein" came to my table in SF. I thought this was an aberration and ordered it again at a different place with the same result.
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BT
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/01 20:13:36 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by cornfed

When I got to San Francisco, chow mein became mushy bean sprouts replacing noodles with vegetables over white rice. In NY, same thing. The chow mein noodle dish that I grew up with in LA is "lo mein" in both San Francisco and New York, especially in NY. I am quite certain about this distinction because the horror I felt when "chow mein" came to my table in SF.


I can't imagine where you ate. Having eaten "chow mein" in literally hundreds of San Francisco restaurants over the last 30 years, I've NEVER encountered anything called "chow mein" except the stir-fried noodles with veggies and/or meat dish you say you were used to in LA. The bean sprout thing is available in a few places as "chop suey" and I sometimes seek it out for nostalgia reasons (it's what I grew up eating on the East Coast). I can't recall if SF Chinese places even offer anything called "lo mein". I never order it or noticed if they do.

What do you say stevecarry?
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cornfed
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/01 20:44:29 (permalink)
You know what, I left SF quite a while ago. You are right. The change happened in NY. I remember wanting noodles, ordering chow mein because that's what i was used to noodles being on the West Coast, and getting the mushy bean sprouts with awful "vegetables" that seem like it was anything that's cheap and adds volume like celery. But chow mein is definitely not noodles in NY. Is this bean sprout version chow mein or chop suey at that old place in SF with the dumb waiter (I can't recall the name)? Oh, Sam Wo.
BT
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/01 22:17:27 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by cornfed

Is this bean sprout version chow mein or chop suey at that old place in SF with the dumb waiter (I can't recall the name)? Oh, Sam Wo.


I honestly don't know. I think I ate there once in the early 80's. But it's the kind of place that caters to out-of-towners and might--I can only say MIGHT--give 'em what they expect (the bean sprout mushy stuff).
Jimeats
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/02 07:39:23 (permalink)
We have a place in Salem Ma. at a very old ammusement park called the Salem Willows. They serve a chop sewy sandwich for about $2 bucks it's great. It's served on a cheap hamburger bun wrapped in wax paper and there is always a line at the place. I think they have a chow mein sandwich as well. Kind of messey to eat but damn deceint. Chow Jim
Scorereader
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/02 11:23:38 (permalink)
I ate at Kim Thanh Restaurant (Geary St.) in San Francisco. It wasn't any different than the stuff we get here in DC.
BT
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/02 13:09:57 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader

I ate at Kim Thanh Restaurant (Geary St.) in San Francisco. It wasn't any different than the stuff we get here in DC.



You'd have to elaborate because I don't know what you get in DC these days. I'm willing to bet it was nothing like what I would have gotten in the DC suburbs when I was growing up in the 50's and early 60's. But DC has gotten a lot more sophisticated and cosmopolitan since then (then it was a small southern city).

As for Kim Thanh, I had to look it up but having done so, I'm not surprised if it wasn't especially good, just based on location. It's at Geary and Jones. That's in an area of a number of large and small hotels and up the street from SF's smallish theater district. In other words, there's no significant Chinese population in the area but lots of tourists and theater goers.

If you ever come back to our town, you'll probably find the best Chinese food in the Richmond District (that's outer Geary--20 or 30 blocks west of Kim Thanh--and, even more, Clement St. which parallels Geary a block north) or in Chinatown (on Stockton and the cross streets and even the back alleys, not on Grant). The Richmond is kind of where Chinese families often move when they become prosperous enough to get out of Chinatown. But even then, it may not be much different from DC because, as I said, DC has grown up from what it was when I was a kid there.
Scorereader
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/02 13:32:19 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by BT

[quote (then it was a small southern city).



obviously, that was before the riots

you left in the nick of time.
Michael Stern
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/02 13:39:50 (permalink)
Around New Bedford, Mass., the "chow mein sandwich" is pretty popular, usually available with or without beef. The good ones are good because they use very crisp Hoo-Me noodles, which have been made here since the 1930s. What the purpose of the bun is, or why this became known as a sandwich, I have no idea!

stevencarry
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/04 01:59:58 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by BT

I'm curious.

Is it (A) stir-fried (chow) spaghetti-like noodles (mein) with bits of meat and/or veggies; or is it (B) a gloppy mass of veggies and corn starch to be served with rice and little crispy packaged noodles?

I don't recall encountering anything but (B) on the east coast. Same in Arizona. But here in SF, you ask for "chow mein" you get (A). If/when (B) is available (that's rare), it is called "chop suey" which, I believe, may have been invented hereabouts as food for the imported Chinese working on the railroads. "Chop suey" was also available back east but was somehow distinguished from "chow mein". I was never sure of the difference.

Noodles are important.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/04/international/asia/04china.html?ex=1299128400&en=117d69b3c7f9c315&ei=5089&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss
BT
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/04 03:18:48 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by stevencarry

quote:
Originally posted by BT

I'm curious.

Is it (A) stir-fried (chow) spaghetti-like noodles (mein) with bits of meat and/or veggies; or is it (B) a gloppy mass of veggies and corn starch to be served with rice and little crispy packaged noodles?

I don't recall encountering anything but (B) on the east coast. Same in Arizona. But here in SF, you ask for "chow mein" you get (A). If/when (B) is available (that's rare), it is called "chop suey" which, I believe, may have been invented hereabouts as food for the imported Chinese working on the railroads. "Chop suey" was also available back east but was somehow distinguished from "chow mein". I was never sure of the difference.

Noodles are important.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/04/international/asia/04china.html?ex=1299128400&en=117d69b3c7f9c315&ei=5089&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss


Did you notice the sidebar on that page: http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/03/03/travel/escapes/03hour.html?incamp=article_popular ?

Now I am truly homesick.
ScreenBear
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/03/28 23:59:17 (permalink)
Nathan's, when they were on Broadway, served a chow mein sandwich on a bun.
The Bear
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/06/09 23:34:48 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Bill B.

Neat photos of downtown!

I had my first encounter with horseradish mustard at the House of Toy. I must have been 5 or 6. Put the mustard on a hot dog from the kiddie menu. That horseradish really lit my fire.

Had my first encounter with real horseradish at a Blue Ridge Mall cafeteria a short time later. Can't remember the name of the cafeteria, but it sat near the southeast corner of the mall, back before the mall got enclosed. Maybe it was a Fred Harvey cafeteria? Anyway, my hot roast-beef sandwich came with a cup of ground horseradish. I thought it was an extra side of mashed potatoes. One big bite cured me of that notion.

There used to be a place on the north side of downtown K.C. -- just a lunch counter with a few extra tables -- that served incredible omelettes. Again, I can't remember the name of the place, but it was open into the late 1970s. Maybe Sanderson's Lunch? Stayed open every day until early morning. Does that ring a bell?

CDMIstler
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/06/09 23:40:23 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Bill B.

Neat photos of downtown!

This is the first time that I've posted, so my earlier attempt didn't have any text!

That Blue Ridge Mall cafeteria was probably Putsch's. They were famous for their spinach salad with a dollop of horseradish.

I miss House of Toy. They had the best wontons ever! If you want to make hot mustard, their old fashioned way, take mustard powder and add rice vinegar until it's the consistency that you want it. Your sinuses will be clear for a week!

I had my first encounter with horseradish mustard at the House of Toy. I must have been 5 or 6. Put the mustard on a hot dog from the kiddie menu. That horseradish really lit my fire.

Had my first encounter with real horseradish at a Blue Ridge Mall cafeteria a short time later. Can't remember the name of the cafeteria, but it sat near the southeast corner of the mall, back before the mall got enclosed. Maybe it was a Fred Harvey cafeteria? Anyway, my hot roast-beef sandwich came with a cup of ground horseradish. I thought it was an extra side of mashed potatoes. One big bite cured me of that notion.

There used to be a place on the north side of downtown K.C. -- just a lunch counter with a few extra tables -- that served incredible omelettes. Again, I can't remember the name of the place, but it was open into the late 1970s. Maybe Sanderson's Lunch? Stayed open every day until early morning. Does that ring a bell?

caratzas
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/06/10 03:37:01 (permalink)
Here in the NY/CT area I've only seen it in its white/clear glop with meat and celery and sprouts incarnation, usually with a few token LaChoy-style fried noodles scattered on top or in a bag on the side for formality's sake. Never seen it offered as a real fried noodle dish, which as others have pointed out, the name "chow mein" suggests. I wonder what you'd get if you order off the "Chinese menu."

I'd guess the dish evolved from the style others have said they've seen on the West Coast to better reflect non-Asian East Coast and Midwest tastes in the early-to-middle 20th century. And now most folks don't know any better so that's what you expect and get in my nabe.

BTW, "Lo Mein" is what we call stir-fried spaghetti-like noodles with meat and vegetables here -- which sounds much like what you'd expect if you ordered chow (stir-fried) mein (noodles.) We also have Chow Fun (Stir-fried broad rice noodles) and Chow Mei Fun (Stir-fried rice sticks.) Higher-end/more regional places might offer a few more varieties of fried noodle dishes, but you can find those three offered at about 90% of the Chinese restaurants around here.
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/13 17:25:57 (permalink)

Here in Canada, Chop Suey is usually bean sprouts, onion and celery and depending o nthe joint, slices of carrots and/or mushrooms, either plain or with whatever it comes with, usually chicken, beef. bbq pork or shrimp or a mix. Chow Mein, now that's a different story. In Toronto, it's the above described chop suey with some dry fried crispy noodles on top. In Montreal, what they call chow mein is what in Toronto is called Lo Mein or Cantonese Chow Mein: soft angel hair-like noodles with vegetables (no bean sprouts) and either chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or tofu. The vegetables are a mix of onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms and bok choy.

Anyone visiting Toronto and who is a fan of North American Chinese food (as opposed to real chinese food) should check out the versions of Chow mein, Chop Suey and Lo Mein served at Hoo Wah Garden Tavern, located at 2898 Dufferin Street, 1/2 mile north of Eglinton Avenue West. There is plenty of parking and everything there is made from scratch to order and really delicious.
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/14 17:06:48 (permalink)
quote:
Is it (A) stir-fried (chow) spaghetti-like noodles (mein) with bits of meat and/or veggies; or is it (B) a gloppy mass of veggies and corn starch to be served with rice and little crispy packaged noodles?

I don't recall encountering anything but (B) on the east coast. Same in Arizona. But here in SF, you ask for "chow mein" you get (A). If/when (B) is available (that's rare), it is called "chop suey" which, I believe, may have been invented hereabouts as food for the imported Chinese working on the railroads. "Chop suey" was also available back east but was somehow distinguished from "chow mein". I was never sure of the difference.


When I used to live in the Midwest, we always called the gloppy stuff chow mein. Here in California you always get the noodle/meat/veggie combo. I've also had the chop suey here and it does not even really compare to the gravy-ish "chow mein" I used to get back in the Midwest. Chop suey really isn't as gloppy. Not really sure I've ever seen the gloppy stuff out here even by a different name.
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/16 16:00:53 (permalink)
aako - Love the word gloppy (I try to learn a new work every day, and this is mine for the day)
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/16 16:01:58 (permalink)
woops I men word
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/17 10:57:30 (permalink)
Chow mein is a dish created for Americans. It is not Chinese. The recipe will be whatever the chef thinks works for the locals.
Shara
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/17 11:17:08 (permalink)
It's slop imo. Onions, celery. cornstarch, msg and chicken or whatever meat you order it with. At least that's what I remember from the times I'd order it as a kid at our local Chinese restaurant in Trenton, NJ. Mercifully, my taste buds have since matured.
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RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2006/08/17 11:56:30 (permalink)
BT,

A) Here in the Pacific Northwest. I have never ever received B while ordering chow mein, that would be a total disapointment. I grew up and still live on the West Coast.

I actually ordered some chow mein yesterday and I received more of a yakisoba style, stir fried - soft noodle (flour, flat, Japanese type) with chicken, onion, zucchini, carrot. Definitely not my idea of traditional chow mein.

While living in SF we learned of "Hong Kong" style chow mein, called Gee Mein (I am positive that is spelled incorrectly) It consists of a skinny-ier noodle panfried very brown & crunchy, very much like a noodle pancake, then they usually pour the daily offerings over the top. Very, very crunchy/yet soft - delicious. We love the Gee Mein at Great Wall out in the Avenue's. They also make wonderful Chow Fun, wide rice noodles, with beef, black bean, bean sprouts, panfried super dark and luscious. Do not miss their potstickers! Oh, man, they are a treat.

There is also that place on Broadway, rt side, going W, right before the tunnel (yet wah?) they make a great Steelhead Lo Mein.

Gosh, I miss eating in SF! Have you been to the Slanted Door? I read an article stating it was the best food in the country! They used to be out on Valencia and now they are high rent in the Ferry building. Too bad.

Do you ever go out for Won Tun Mein? That is the one dish that I absolutely miss the most. I can't remember the name of those particular restaurants but that was the most delicious dish. You are a lucky man to be living in that great city! My in laws live in Bernal Heights.



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