What is "chow mein" in your 'hood?

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BT
Filet Mignon
2005/08/20 14:59:55
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.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 15:36:01
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.

You left out American Chow Mein, which is made with ground beef, stewed tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and elbow macaroni.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 15:40:45
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hoffman


You left out American Chow Mein, which is made with ground beef, stewed tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and elbow macaroni.


I've never seen that in a Chinese restaurant. Never made it at home, either. I HAVE made "Chinese spaghetti" which is made with ground pork, black bean sauce, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, minced ginger, dark soy sauce, sugar, chicken broth and spaghetti. In fact, I've made that quite often.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 15:59:10
quote:
Originally posted by BT

quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hoffman


You left out American Chow Mein, which is made with ground beef, stewed tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and elbow macaroni.


I've never seen that in a Chinese restaurant. Never made it at home, either. I HAVE made "Chinese spaghetti" which is made with ground pork, black bean sauce, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, minced ginger, dark soy sauce, sugar, chicken broth and spaghetti. In fact, I've made that quite often.

You've most likely never seen it in a Chinese restaurant because it's a New England dish.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:02:51
Mike Hoffman
When I was growing up That was a standard dish in our H S lunch menu..Called American Chop Suey Not chow mein. The recipe was what you described.

BT
In the Southern Hoosier version of the Chinese Restaurant your letter "B" pretty well describes it. No crunchy noodles unless you are buying the grocery store canned version. Everything dumped on white rice.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:08:20
OK, but I'd still like to know what your local Chinese restaurant gives you if you order "chow mein".
improviser
Double Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:26:14
I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's
Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein
Werewolves of London

Sorry, BT, couldn't resist.

I don't think I've ever had Chow mein. Maybe I'll get some tomorrow.
jinjo76
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:39:59
(B) a gloppy mass of veggies and corn starch to be served with rice and little crispy packaged noodles.
Oakland Park, FL.
Jonathan
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:46:26
Thanks, Jonathan.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:55:02
quote:
Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen

Mike Hoffman
When I was growing up That was a standard dish in our H S lunch menu..Called American Chop Suey Not chow mein. The recipe was what you described.


I'd forgotten. Someone told me about American Chop Suey in Ohio. Amd ypu;re right. It was the same thing.
MaxZook
Junior Burger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:56:23
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.


I grew up eating Chinese in NYC but have lived in L.A. for over 25 years. IMHO, traditional "true" chow mein is what you describe as (B) -- i.e. the Chun King stuff you can buy in cans in the supermarket, next to the crispy "chow mein noodles".

What you describe as (A) first appeared on both coasts in the 1970s as lo mein. In recent years, the ghastly and omnipresent Panda Express chain started serving a side dish they call "chow mein", which vaguely resembles lo mein but without any meat or flavor or texture whatsoever. I think this is where the confusion started, for now many cheap L.A. joints serve lo mein under the name of "chow mein".

Chinese "chop suey", a name which dates to the 1800s, was never Chinese at all. And as a previous poster said, "American chop suey" is a New England school cafeteria mainstay and is no more Chinese than a grilled cheese sandwich.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 16:57:27
quote:
Originally posted by BT

OK, but I'd still like to know what your local Chinese restaurant gives you if you order "chow mein".

The last time I ever ordered chow mein in a Chinese restaurant was back in the late 1940s. As I recall it was a mix of goopy vegetables and chicken served over those fried noodles. Now, I did frequently order chow mein sandwiches at a place called Nickel Charlies in New Haven. It was the same sort of thing, fried noodles and all, served on a hamburger bun.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 17:04:21
So leaving Panda Express out of it, if I go into an independent Chinese place in LA and order "chow mein" I am likely to get (B)? Because in San Francisco, I most assuredly would get (A) and that goes for places in Chinatown where everybody else in the joint would be speaking some dialect of Chinese.

Interestingly, I had this discussion with the owner of a Chinese restaurant in Arizona. He served (B) as chow mein. He also said (A) was lo mein. That's one reason I asked the question. Is it only here that "chow mein" is (A)? Seems odd because I believe in at least one Chinese dialect "chow" mean stir-fry and "mein" is a type of noodle so "chow mein" should be stir-fried noodles which is precisely what (A) is but certainly not (B).
6star
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 17:48:36
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.

When I was young, the difference between chop suey and chow mein was that chop suey was the glop (usually with bits of meat in it) served over rice and chow mein was the identical glop served over chow mein crispy noodles. Now, I wouldn't think of ordering or making either one, since I prefer Szechuan dishes.
Lucky Bishop
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 23:10:47
quote:
Originally posted by BT

OK, but I'd still like to know what your local Chinese restaurant gives you if you order "chow mein".


A funny look, because it's not on the menu.

http://www.quanskitchen-boston.com/menuonly1.html

What you describe as A is called "lo mein" in any restaurant I've eaten at here. B is something I haven't seen since the last time my mom hotted up a can of that ghastly Chung King stuff back in the '80s. (Her innovation was that she served it on those little canned matchstick potatoes instead of the flavorless fried noodles that came with.)

On the other hand, Charity mentions that she has sometimes heard employees refer to the dishes that are listed on the menu above under "Noodle Dishes (Hong Kong Style)" as "chow mein." But that doesn't help you either, because those dishes are neither A nor B but C: a mass of very thin, yellow, cappelli-like noodles dry-fried (not stir-fried) into a crispy pancake and topped with meat (almost always char siu when we're ordering it: it's not on the menu, but we're regulars) and maybe a little choy.

Sidebar about American Chop Suey: bizarrely enough, my mother and Charity's mother both made this dish a lot when we were kids, but both of them called it "goulash." Obviously, it's not goulash, but we think it's funny that her mom (from Watertown, Massachusetts) and my mom (from San Angelo, Texas) both called it the same wrong name!
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/20 23:50:47
Well, Lucky, here's the menu from my favorite noodle spot: http://www.222.to/dpd/menu01.asp

Note:
quote:
Shanghai Chow Mein (Pork or Chicken or Beef) (Thick Noodles Cooked with Spinach and Cabbage) 4.25
D.P.D. Chow Mein (Combination of Vegetables with Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp Over Pan Fried Crispy Noodles) 5.50


Those are gonna be (A).
Lucky Bishop
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 00:41:04
I'm confused, then. "Thick Noodles Cooked with Spinach and Cabbage" sounds like different noodles, a different preparation and a different service from "Combination of Vegetables with Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp Over Pan Fried Crispy Noodles." The first sounds like it's all mixed together and made with what I know as Shanghai noodles -- unless by thick noodles they mean something more like chow foon -- and possibly sauced. The second sounds like what I describe above as the pan-fried Hong Kong-style noodles: a pancake of very thin noodles, crispy on the outside and soft in the center, topped with char siu and choy and not sauced at all. (Charity points out that in the old-school Chinese places around here, this was often known as "two sides yellow.")

Am I misinterpreting that menu? I don't see how those are both A. Regardless, they're definitely not B, which as I said I haven't seen in close to 20 years, and since, as you said, since "chow mein" simply means "fried noodle," it's up to the individual chef what that means.
sizz
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 00:42:00
BT have you no shame? ............... your setting these people up, ....... lol out of the 6 million people living in the Bay area 1.5 million are Asian. The predominant restaurants around the Bay are Chinese............... and your an expert on that kind of food.... Your just egg foo-ing them on.............. lol
Now something about Chop Suey..as MaxZook said it is not Chinese but white American slang. it was the slop made up for the Chinese workers on the railroad....... a concoction made to what railroad cooks thought a Chinese dish should be. Now the name Chop Suey was also made up. Chop was a slang word used to call the Chinese workers as in "chop chop" for hurry up. Even to this day around SF Bay Asians are referred to as "Chops." The word "suey" was the same word the white man used to call hogs to feed you know as in "suey suey suey" Any Iowa farmer will know the word. Hence the word "Chop Suey" ........... really not a very nice word, sort of like when the white man vulgarly called a female native Indian a "squaw" ......... look that one up.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 03:16:12
Frank,

It may seem that I am not serious in asking this question, but in fact I am. I have often found myself wondering why this disparity in what this dish is called in different places--and whether it really exists. It really amazes me sometimes how much the American way of eating has changed. When I was growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, there was no Mexican food available. I had my first Mexican meal in Tampa FL when I was 26 or 27. Now, I am told by my sister who only recently moved out of the old neighborhood, that it is largely hispanic and Mexican food, both in restaurants and grocery stores, is readily available. I truly believe that the type (A) chow mein is closer to something you might find in China, but I stand to be corrected and I'd kind of like to know if the type (B) chow mein that I remember eating in Washington, Baltimore, Durham NC and Orlando FL in my younger days is still what you get there or not. For one thing, like I said, not so long ago I ordered it in a restaurant in Arizona, kind of hoping for type (A) but got type (B) and since AZ is next door to CA I figured, but wasn't certain, that type (B), which I think is pretty much an American invention, still had a lock on the nation.

As to the story of chop suey, didn't I say what you said (with much less knowledgeable detail) above? To quote myself:
quote:
"chop suey" which, I believe, may have been invented hereabouts (meaning in the Bay Area) as food for the imported Chinese working on the railroads


So, one more time: anyplace else you get type (A) or is it only the Bay Area? And, by the way, what does the "lo" in "lo mein" mean?
brookquarry
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 12:01:28
quote:
Originally posted by Lucky Bishop

quote:
Originally posted by BT

OK, but I'd still like to know what your local Chinese restaurant gives you if you order "chow mein".


A funny look, because it's not on the menu.

http://www.quanskitchen-boston.com/menuonly1.html

What you describe as A is called "lo mein" in any restaurant I've eaten at here. B is something I haven't seen since the last time my mom hotted up a can of that ghastly Chung King stuff back in the '80s. (Her innovation was that she served it on those little canned matchstick potatoes instead of the flavorless fried noodles that came with.)

On the other hand, Charity mentions that she has sometimes heard employees refer to the dishes that are listed on the menu above under "Noodle Dishes (Hong Kong Style)" as "chow mein." But that doesn't help you either, because those dishes are neither A nor B but C: a mass of very thin, yellow, cappelli-like noodles dry-fried (not stir-fried) into a crispy pancake and topped with meat (almost always char siu when we're ordering it: it's not on the menu, but we're regulars) and maybe a little choy.

Sidebar about American Chop Suey: bizarrely enough, my mother and Charity's mother both made this dish a lot when we were kids, but both of them called it "goulash." Obviously, it's not goulash, but we think it's funny that her mom (from Watertown, Massachusetts) and my mom (from San Angelo, Texas) both called it the same wrong name!


Strangly enough,when I was growing up in Lancaster County Pa in the '60's my Mom also made this dish, and also called it goulash.
Never heard it called "American Chop Suey' until I bought my first Roadfood book.
skylar0ne
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 13:19:02
Here in central North Carolina, when we order chow mein, we get what you described as "B," while your "A" description would be served as lo mein. I haven't been to every chinese restaurant around here, but have never seen chop suey on the menu of any I've ever been to.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 13:58:59

The American Chop Suey and Goulash labels for basically the same dish has been around for a long time. In the 50's my Mother (Czech heritage) called it Goulash when she served it to us in SoCal. The School Lunch program called it American Chop Suey in SoCal,Mass.and Upstate New York into the 70's ( I stopped eating in the school cafeteria then). here in Hoosierland I see Goulash on the buffet at some of the Amish restaurants, and it tastes like the American Chop Suey of my youth.
I can't think of another dish that uses terms referring to such a geographic spread to describe the dish. Hungary to China is about as far apart as one can get... well ok then there is San Francisco and Oakland so maybe there are two places
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 14:16:20
quote:
Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen


Hungary to China is about as far apart as one can get... well ok then there is San Francisco and Oakland so maybe there are two places


I have seen the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge called "the longest bridge in the world" for the reasons you suggest even though it's really only about 7 miles long (in 2 separate spans).

Well, here's the "good" span :

The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 14:16:30
Here in central Florida, the hotbed of Asian cuisine, the above referenced (a) is on the menu as lo mein. It is what I also recall being lo mein back in NY. I have never ordered chow mein, so I have no point of reference, but I do like lo mein. I have no idea what the lo translates to in English.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/21 14:22:31
quote:
Originally posted by stevekoe

I have never ordered chow mein


Well, once again it seems we are demonstrating how very much US eating has changed. When I was a kid, eating "Chinese" pretty much meant eating type (B) chow mein or "chop suey" (which, as I said, I found indistinguishable). The truly adventurous or cosmopolitan might also get some egg foo yung or mushu pork. But that was it. That was why Chinese restaurants existed.
meiguoren
Junior Burger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/22 15:39:13
'Chow Mein' is a mutation of the Mandarin Chinese 'chou mian' which just means 'fried noodles.' When I lived in China I think I only had chow mein twice, it's generally considered peasant food. It's not something they eat over there very often, at least not in the area I was. Most American Chinese cuisine is like that, it's more American than Chinese.
Scorereader
Sirloin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/22 16:50:21
I agree with meiguoren that Chinese cuisine here in the US is more Amercian than Chinese.

Even the Asian San Franciscans I met last summer, tell me that the Chinese chefs that come to the US to work in the "chinese" restaurants in Chinatown, have to be re-taught how to cook.
So, even the food in San Fransisco's Chinatown isn't as "chinese" as you'd like to believe.

Our Chinese tourguide on the city tour of Chinatown said more-or-less the same thing.

Infact, even thought the food I had in Chinatown was great, it didn't look a whole lot different than the food in Chinatown in NYC or even DC.

I looked at the food being served in the restaurants and compared that with the ingredients that were sold in the Chinese markets, and I doubt the real Chinese people in San Fran are cooking the same food in their home as the food being served in Chinatown.

So, what ever Chow mein you have in San Fran or the Bay area, it isn't likely to be all that Chinese.




BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/22 19:38:22
Dear scorereader et. al.: Nowhere have I said type (A) chow mein was utterly authentic. I just said I suspected type (B) was utterly inauthentic and type (A) was closer to authenticity. That's based, incidentally, on having lived and travelled for several years in Asia (no, not China, but Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines) and eaten many a noodle there. But that's all really beside the point of my question which was mostly just to find out what I'm likely to get if I order chow mein around the US because sometimes I rather like a plate of the type (A) stuff I get here and wouldn't want to be surprised elsewhere.

Now, as a 23 year resident of San Francisco, far be it from me to doubt any of our fine tour guides, but I very much suspect the quality of the food you get depends on which of the hundreds of Chinese restaurants in town you get it from--at least that's been my experience. There are a number of them in Chinatown that really cater mostly to tourists and those happen to be the ones the tour guides take people to and the hotel concierges direct them to because (I suspect deep in my suspicious soul) there's a little bakshish involved. Truth be told, if you want really authentic food, the percentages are better if you randomly pick a spot in the inner Richmond District where the Chinese immigrants move to when they can afford to get out of Chinatown.

Now take a look at the DPD Noodle House menu link I posted above and tell me that you really think "Shredded jellyfish in soy/sesame sauce" was created for US diners. And you won't find too many non-Asian US diners there except the occasional tourist who stumbles in off the street and folks like me who years ago found something on their menu they really like and go back for repeatedly (in my case, it's not the jellyfish, its the tam tam noodles which may or may not be westernized but which I have read are common street food in some areas of China). Where you will find all the westerners is two doors up the street, lined up to get into the House of Nanking whose food I cannot critique because I've never eaten there.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/22 19:43:50
quote:
Originally posted by meiguoren

'Chow Mein' is a mutation of the Mandarin Chinese 'chou mian' which just means 'fried noodles.'


Did I not say several times above that I thought "chow mein" meant "stir-fried noodles"? That's why I thought type (A), which is precisely that, makes sense to me and type (B) does not. Still, what I want to know is what am I going to get in YOUR town if I ask for "chow mein"?
jeepguy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/22 19:53:21
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.
Just curious, what do you mean by "imported Chinese"? I think they're called immigrants fyi.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/22 20:30:12
quote:
Originally posted by jeepguy

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.
Just curious, what do you mean by "imported Chinese"? I think they're called immigrants fyi.


Well, do you think the African slaves "immigrated" to the US? The Chinese who worked on the railroads were contracted en masse as virtual slave labor. They were willing in the sense that they were told stories about the "gold mountain" available to them in the US, but once here they didn't have a lot of choice about doing the extremely dangerous railroad construction work. To my mind, "immigration" is something one does as an individual and voluntarily. The Chinese were indentured contract labor. I think the term "imported" fits better. You decide what you want to call it.
AndreaB
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/23 09:34:13
At our local Wok 'n Go the chow mein dishes have noodles (not those crispy dry noodles) and the chop suey dishes have rice. I never get either because they're wayyyyyy too bland for me. I prefer the Hunan and Szechuan dishes.

Andrea
Scorereader
Sirloin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/23 11:08:52
BT - you seem to have the whole thing figured out, I'm not exactly sure why you posted?

You say that (A) is "more authentic" from your travels. You say that you've been served (B)everywhere you've been in the US other than San Fran. You assume the tour guides are misdirecting the tourists, so even if I visit S.F., you assume I didn't eat at an "authentic" chinese restaurant.

So, If you know the answer already, why did you ask?

If you don't know the answer when you walk into the restaurant, then either look at the picture (which probably means you shouldn't be eating there, if there are pictures of the food) or ask the waitress.

If you're truely looking for authentic Chinese food, why are you going to a place that serves chow mein to begin with?

And, I disagree with your statement that the "chow mein" in S.F. is "more authentic" than chow mein elsewhere since "chow mein" ISN'T really a chinese dish.

With that said, I'm not entirely sure what (B) is! (gloppy vegetables and corn starch? ugh.)

here's a link to the types of "chow mein" I've had on the East coast (these aren't the actual photos, just pics I found that represent the chow mein I've eaten here in the East):

http://www.nomoreramen.com/Kwan's%20Cuisine%2002-06-05%20Kwan's%20Chow%20Mein%20with%20Beef%20(Large).jpg

http://www.szechuan-restaurant.com/menus/pics/703-shp.gif

http://www.cynicor.com/chinese/beef%20chow%20mein.jpg

http://web.umr.edu/~microbio/BIO221_1999/chowl.jpg

But I have seen the stuff over those crispy noodles served on rare occasion with the same restaurant calling the stuff over fresh noodles "lo mein" and similiar stuff over rice called "chop suey." But I usually don't go to places with chop suey on the menu. Even a lot of take-out places don't have "chop suey" as an option.

The confusion of what these dishes "are" may not be an "american" caused problem, as about.com seems to attribute these dishes from cantonese and northern chinese coming to America and using the vegetables in the US to create dishes similiar as home. Both the North Chinese and Cantonese have similiar Americanized names for similiar dishes and thus the confusion. The Cantonese tend to use rice, while northern dishes use wheat (to make the pasta).

Ironically, epicurious.com defines "chow mein" as:

[chow MAYN]
A Chinese-American dish that consists of small pieces of meat (usually chicken) or shrimp and vegetables such as bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and onions. The ingredients are usually fried separately, then combined at the last minute and served over crisp noodles.

While, I wouldn't be pleased about being served the "crisp" noodles, unless it was fresh, thin rice noodles that have been made crisp from frying in a wok, I don't see corn starch as a main (or shall I say "mein") ingredient, and from the above description is doesn't sound like the veggies should be gloppy or limp. So, again, I'm not entirely sure what (B) is, except for maybe that stuff that comes in a can (La Choy?)...and I certainly would rather not be served that. (I'd rather eat a Pop-Tart.)












pacman
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/23 11:39:07
quote:

You left out American Chow Mein, which is made with ground beef, stewed tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and elbow macaroni.


This is what my mom called "goulash" as well. Grew up in a little town called Blanchard in Central Pa. Haven't had any in 'forever'.

Dan
Lucky Bishop
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/23 23:53:34
quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader
And, I disagree with your statement that the "chow mein" in S.F. is "more authentic" than chow mein elsewhere since "chow mein" ISN'T really a chinese dish.


As it happens, the new issue of Gourmet that I got yesterday includes a recipe for Beef Chow Mein. I quote: "This authentic Cantonese version of chow mein features fresh egg noodles, which are fried into a cake that softens slightly when topped with a meat and vegetable sauce."

Let's see, who will I believe...long-running and well-respected food magazine edited by one of the leading food writers of our time...or...some guy. Tough choice.

Regardless, I'm pleased to see that Gourmet agrees with the folks at my neighborhood Chinese place: chow mein = a cake of noodles fried as a single mass (NOT stir-fried) and topped with meat and veg.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 00:18:55
quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader

BT - you seem to have the whole thing figured out, I'm not exactly sure why you posted?


I posted to ask the simple, straightforward question, which I have now asked 4 or 5 times in this thread, which version of "chow mein" should I expect to get if I order it in your area. I have NOT got it figured out what I will get ordering "chow mein" in, say Duluth, Michigan and I've not suggested I have.

Sheesh! I asked what seemed a simple question and so far have been accused of everything from playing games with other roadfooders to racism. It really is kind of silly where some of these threads go. But since I am anti-censorship, take it where you will. Just try to understand the simple question being asked and somewhere in whatever tangent you decide to pursue, try to answer it.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 00:29:14
quote:
Originally posted by Lucky Bishop

quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader
And, I disagree with your statement that the "chow mein" in S.F. is "more authentic" than chow mein elsewhere since "chow mein" ISN'T really a chinese dish.


As it happens, the new issue of Gourmet that I got yesterday includes a recipe for Beef Chow Mein. I quote: "This authentic Cantonese version of chow mein features fresh egg noodles, which are fried into a cake that softens slightly when topped with a meat and vegetable sauce."

Let's see, who will I believe...long-running and well-respected food magazine edited by one of the leading food writers of our time...or...some guy. Tough choice.

Regardless, I'm pleased to see that Gourmet agrees with the folks at my neighborhood Chinese place: chow mein = a cake of noodles fried as a single mass (NOT stir-fried) and topped with meat and veg.


Dear, Lucky. You did, in fact, answer my question as to what I can expect to get if I order chow mein where you eat Chinese. All the rest of the rants, accusations, diatribes, petulant outbursts and other off topic chatter going on (not from you) are beside MY point, really.

Actually, I didn't know there was an authentic Cantonese version of chow mein and nowhere did I say I did. In nearly every comment I made on that side-issue, I tried to suggest I was just guessing about it or stating what seemed logical to me.

Saint Matt
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 00:36:53
quote:
Originally posted by BT

...if I go into an independent Chinese place in LA and order "chow mein" I am likely to get (B)? Because in San Francisco, I most assuredly would get (A) and that goes for places in Chinatown where everybody else in the joint would be speaking some dialect of Chinese.



I've lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the central valley, the Gold Country, and the Monterey Bay area. And from my experience of eating Chinese food all over California, I've found that Chow Mein is always the same: long, thin, soft wheat-flour noodles mixed with meat and/or veggies. If you order Chow Fun, you get basically the same dish, but made with wide rice-flour noodles.

I've never eaten Chinese food outside of California, so I can't comment on any other state.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 01:31:53
quote:
Originally posted by Saint Matt

quote:
Originally posted by BT

...if I go into an independent Chinese place in LA and order "chow mein" I am likely to get (B)? Because in San Francisco, I most assuredly would get (A) and that goes for places in Chinatown where everybody else in the joint would be speaking some dialect of Chinese.



I've lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the central valley, the Gold Country, and the Monterey Bay area. And from my experience of eating Chinese food all over California, I've found that Chow Mein is always the same: long, thin, soft wheat-flour noodles mixed with meat and/or veggies. If you order Chow Fun, you get basically the same dish, but made with wide rice-flour noodles.

I've never eaten Chinese food outside of California, so I can't comment on any other state.


Thanks, Matt. That's my experience too. What I'm seeing is to find out whether that version is limited to CA (or even N. CA).
Scorereader
Sirloin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 10:39:04
Lucky- You need to re-read that. "This authentic Cantonese VERSION of chow mein..." However, in Cantonese cooking there is NO "chow mein." They have a SIMILIAR dish, which uses the egg noodles (the way my mom used to make it...although, my mom used to use egg noodles under Chili too, but that was another thread)

Gourmet AND Bon Apetite are sister magazines and run epicurious.com. The definition of "chow mein" from the site is described in my earlier post.

Other magazines run by the same people include the New Yorker, Glamour, House & Garden, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Allure, Lucky, Self and others. So, if we pull a recipe off of those web-sites, can we call that an "authentic version"?

Notice, when you search epicurious.com for a recipe by using the search term "chow" with "Chinese" cuisine type, you get NO results for Chow Mein. Yet, when you use the search term "chow" and "American" cuisine, up pops your Beef Chow Mein recipe in the September isssue.

and WHY does this happen? because Chow Mein IS NOT Chinese. It's an American dish RESEMBLING Chinese cooking.

Since Northern Chinese and Cantonese cooking are so vastly different, the American "version" is not a singular "authentic" version, but there exists many versions representing the vast array of regional Chinese cooking techniques and dishes.

Also, I'd like to point out that I DID indeed respond to BT's question, by offering pictures of some of the "chow mein" dishes I've eaten in DC representing a varitey of so-called "authentic" chinese restaurants.
So, BT, if you come to DC, I can give you the names of Chinese restaurants that don't serve the glop.
But, personally, I like the Mongolian BBQ in DC's Chinatown the best.

Lastly, Lucky, your entire post resides on the facts from ONE recipe. I think this is a poor argument. If Gourmet came out with ONE recipe for Eastern NC BBQ and called it authentic, would you presume it's the ONLY way Eastern NC BBQ can be prepared?
I beg to differ. Not only are there many ways of preparing eastern NC BBQ, there are many ways of preparing "chow mein."










1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 11:23:19
quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader[/
Lastly, Lucky, your entire post resides on the facts from ONE recipe. I think this is a poor argument. If Gourmet came out with ONE recipe for Eastern NC BBQ and called it authentic, would you presume it's the ONLY way Eastern NC BBQ can be prepared?
I beg to differ. Not only are there many ways of preparing eastern NC BBQ, there are many ways of preparing "chow mein."












Would I be allowed to make eastern NC bbq chow mein with Beef instead of Pork, or would that make it Texas style?
PaulBPool
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 11:31:56
Well, if you order chow mein here in the Long Island region of New York, you'll get onions, celery, bean sprouts quickly fried (chowed), covered with a starchy coating, with chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp as the meat. It will be served with white rice, and crispy fried noodles. Most folks put the crispy noodles on the plate, top with the chow mein, then top the chow mein with the rice. Shake on some soy, and some good hot mustard, and there you go - enjoy!
Scorereader
Sirloin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 11:40:49


Hmmmm,
does Texas use large doses of vinegar too?

I think you may have some sort of hybrid.
But, with beef, you're definately leaning towards Texas...

But then, you may be shot in Texas for putting BBQ over noodles!
(one of them there blue laws - Section 1047 of Texas State Code 34-14 "If a man puts BBQ on top of noodles, immediate execution by firing squad is warrented and expected even in cases of accidental circumstance, 'cuz ya all know noodles ain't no proper side dish for BBQ!")

..,or, something like that...I may have the wrong section, but I'm pretty sure it's in there...
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 12:01:06
quote:
Originally posted by BT

quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader

BT - you seem to have the whole thing figured out, I'm not exactly sure why you posted?


I posted to ask the simple, straightforward question, which I have now asked 4 or 5 times in this thread, which version of "chow mein" should I expect to get if I order it in your area. I have NOT got it figured out what I will get ordering "chow mein" in, say Duluth, Michigan and I've not suggested I have.

Sheesh! I asked what seemed a simple question and so far have been accused of everything from playing games with other roadfooders to racism. It really is kind of silly where some of these threads go. But since I am anti-censorship, take it where you will. Just try to understand the simple question being asked and somewhere in whatever tangent you decide to pursue, try to answer it.

I do believe I ought to warn you that anything you order in Duluth, Michigan will most likely not be really good to eat -- unless, of course, you're a fan of pickled herring pasties. In fact, I'd suggest skipping any meals offered in Duluth, Michigan. You might want to consider Flint, Minnesota or South Bend, Wyoming as alternatives.
Saint Matt
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 12:07:01
quote:

Thanks, Matt. That's my experience too. What I'm seeing is to find out whether that version is limited to CA (or even N. CA).


Chinese dishes seem to be pretty much the same where ever you go in California. Although, some areas tend to have better Chinese food than others. One of the few things I miss about Los Angeles is the Chinese restaurants. Haven''t found anything outstanding since moving back to Santa Cruz. It may seem ironic, but during my three years in San Francisco(in the early 90''s), I only found one Chinese place that was worth a second visit. Most of it was really bad.
Bill B.
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 12:54:34
I was eatin' some chop suey,
With a lady in St. Louie,
When there sudden comes a knockin' at the door.
And that knocker, he says, "Honey,
Roll this rocker out some money,
Or your daddy shoots a baddie to the floor."
-- Mr. Miggle

Sorry, I couldn't resist, either.

When I was a wee rugrat, many years ago, my only experience with "Chinese" cuisine was through the cans of chow mein that my parents bought at the grocery store. The kind where you open a can of veggies and a separate can of meat-in-gravy, mix them together and serve them over crunchy canned noodles. I actually used to like that stuff, once upon a when.

Order chow mein in a Chinese restaurant in Missouri these days, and god knows what you'll get. Whatever else it consists of, it will probably contain a lot of cabbage.
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 13:08:05
billyb, we used to go to King Joy Lo at 12th and Main, 2nd floor NW corner. I always had tomato beef, which I never saw again on a menu til I would stop at the little Chinese place in Williams, Ca., and there it appeared again, and a good version at that.
Sort of a stewed beef and tomato dish served over wheat noodles. That was in the '50's. I still look for it on menus,
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 13:23:09
quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader



Hmmmm,
does Texas use large doses of vinegar too?

I think you may have some sort of hybrid.
But, with beef, you're definately leaning towards Texas...

But then, you may be shot in Texas for putting BBQ over noodles!
(one of them there blue laws - Section 1047 of Texas State Code 34-14 "If a man puts BBQ on top of noodles, immediate execution by firing squad is warrented and expected even in cases of accidental circumstance, 'cuz ya all know noodles ain't no proper side dish for BBQ!")

..,or, something like that...I may have the wrong section, but I'm pretty sure it's in there...


don't forget BBQ spaghetti in Memphis.
http://www.storysouth.com/winter2003/bbqframe.html
You have to get halfway through the story to read about Smokey's encounter with the Cozy Corner.
http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=220
Scorereader
Sirloin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 13:56:38
Thank goodness that was in Memphis and not Austin, I may have had to remove a foot from my fingers.

I must admit, Michael Stern's picture of the bbq spaghetti looks inviting.
Bill B.
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 14:28:28
Bill Voss, my parents still talk about King Joy Lo's. They say that I ate there, too, but I don't remember it. The only place right downtown that I remember from my earliest childhood is a restaurant on the upper floor of a department store -- maybe the Jones store?
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 14:53:24
http://www.kclibrary.org/localhistory/media.cfm?mediaID=35131
This is how I remember downtown.
King Joy Lo had big double size Black windows, which my parents used to let me go and look out over 12th & Main.
Macy's had the top floor dining, Jone's store was on the second floor, and the best was at Emery Bird Thayer's, which was on the mezzanine. + we would we eat at Wolferman's-the Best, bakery & food.
emsmom
Double Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 14:57:22
Here in NC , Chow Mein is the onions, celery, beans sprouts with chicken covered in the starchy sauce served with crispy noodles. Lo Mein is made with the Spaghetti type noodles and what has been described as American Chow Mein has always been called Goulash by my family.
zataar
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 16:04:44
quote:
Originally posted by bill voss

http://www.kclibrary.org/localhistory/media.cfm?mediaID=35131
This is how I remember downtown.
King Joy Lo had big double size Black windows, which my parents used to let me go and look out over 12th & Main.
Macy's had the top floor dining, Jone's store was on the second floor, and the best was at Emery Bird Thayer's, which was on the mezzanine. + we would we eat at Wolferman's-the Best, bakery & food.


I don't remember King Joy Lo at all. My grandmother worked at EBT, so we ate downtown often with her. Kline's Mezzanine was a favorite. Good rootbeer floats. My mother remembers King Joy Lo.
For Chinese we would usually go to the Plaza to House of Toy. Mr. Toy would greet you with "Anywhere you like, anywhere you like." The chow mein was on crispy canned noodles, the chop suey had very soft cooked noodles. Both were topped with Type B mushy stuff. I mainly go to Chinese places for Dim Sum, but I'm sure my favorite, Bo Ling's, doesn't do the Type B kind.
Bill B.
Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 16:26:16
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?
larrygeller
Junior Burger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 16:42:52
I live in Flushing, a hotbed for this stuff. It is always B (in Chinatown also). I still order it for delivery when I don't want something too spicy. Chop Suey was last sighted around here in the '70s. Chicken CM & Shrimp CM are almost completely different dishes (chicken CM is much gloppier), but neither resembles A.
Tedbear
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 17:33:58

In my area (Central NJ, Northern NJ, and NYC) what you get depends on where you go to eat. If you go to places that are patronized primarily by Caucasians, then you will get "B".

If you venture into a place that has predominantly Asian customers, you can get "A". While it might not be on the menu, if you ask for Chow Mein in one of the more authentically Asian restaurants, you can get it, and it is always of the "A" variety.

Where people have misinterpreted your post, they are thinking of Lo Mein, with "soft" noodles. The Chow Mein that is eaten by Cantonese Chinese people consists of long, thin noodles that are freshly pan- fried until crispy, and then are topped with whatever else you specified for your dish. Always predominantly vegetables of course, and a meat of your choice.

When I was younger, all that I knew was the "B" type--whether from a Chun King can or from one of the Chinese restaurants of old. My former S.O. is Cantonese, and as a result, I learned much about Chinese food from a Cantonese perspective. As a result, I was exposed to the "real" type of Chow Mein (as well as other dishes not on the regular menu). And the real type, of course, is the one that was designated as "A".

Lucky Bishop
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 18:13:56
quote:
Originally posted by Scorereader

Lucky- You need to re-read that. "This authentic Cantonese VERSION of chow mein..." However, in Cantonese cooking there is NO "chow mein." They have a SIMILIAR dish, which uses the egg noodles (the way my mom used to make it...although, my mom used to use egg noodles under Chili too, but that was another thread)


If I used emoticons much, there would be a huge series of eyerolls here.

Wow, it's a VERSION of a dish? And maybe DIFFERENT PLACES have DIFFERENT VERSIONS of different dishes? Wow, that never ever ever would have occurred to me. I'm so lucky that I have you here to tell me these things. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

And gee whillickers golly, thanks ever so much for the rundown of Conde Nast's various magazine holdings. Again, I'm just gonna sleep so much better knowing that there's someone out there keeping an eye on those people for me.
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 18:59:46
quote:
Originally posted by Bill B.

Neat photos of downtown!


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?


Sanderson's was my favorite place ever. It was open 24 hours, had the classic above the grill gas broiler, and served specials like ox tail stew every day of the year. I miss it.
Z, did EBT have a cafeteria too, or am I combining Kline's and EBT? Didn't the EBT Store have the Thomas Hart Benton Murals?
Scorereader
Sirloin
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 19:01:39
Hey Pal -
YOU'RE the one who said that this chow mein dish was authentic Cantonese, not me.

and YOU'RE the one who said:
" Gourmet agrees with the folks at my neighborhood Chinese place: chow mein = a cake of noodles fried as a single mass (NOT stir-fried) and topped with meat and veg."

When in fact, Gourmet does not hold that opinion in it's own dictionary.
You used ONE recipe to make a brush stroke that you're dinky chinese restaurant was somehow "correct" in its presentation of chow mein.

My whole argument is that there is no "more" authentic chow mein than another, since Chow mein is not authentic chinese cuisine.
If you like the noodle cake, great. Eat it.

And the best retort you have is to roll your eyes? How juvenile.

So, roll your eyes all you wish. Maybe it'll help to continue to keep you from seeing the facts.

Lucky Bishop
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: What is "chow mein" in your 'hood? 2005/08/24 19:36:18
Funny, "eat it" was the thought that was coming to my mind as well. I'm truly puzzled as to what exactly you think the problem is here.

Lemme break it down for you:

1. One version of chow mein consists of a fried cake of egg noodles topped with meat and veg.

2. This is what the employees at Quan's Kitchen, a restaurant in Allston MA staffed largely by Cantonese immigrants, call chow mein.

3. A recipe for this version of chow mein in this month's Gourmet agrees that this is, in fact, what the Cantonese call chow mein.

4. To me, the problem appears to be your bizarre insistence that I am somehow proclaiming that this is the only true dish that should be called chow mein.

5. I am not saying that, and had you been around for longer than 53 whole posts, you might know that I'm just about the last person around these parts who cares a tinker's dam about the concept of "authenticity."

6. I'm saying that the restaurant in my neighborhood serves this dish and that although the menu lists it only as "fried noodles," the employees call it chow mein.

7. I'm saying that this month's Gourmet has a recipe for this dish and calls it chow mein.

8. These are both incontrovertible facts.

9. The fact that there are OTHER dishes from other places that are ALSO called "chow mein" does not change these two incontrovertible facts:

9a: The employees at a restaurant in Allston, Massachusetts refer to a dish consisting of a cake of fried noodles topped with meat and veg as "chow mein."

9b: If you want to call them and complain about that, their phone number is 617-232-7617. I'm sure they'd love to drop everything and listen to you complain about how there's really no such "authentic" dish as chow mein, and that you know more about food than they do, because some guy on a bus once told you this.

9c: Similarly, I'm sure the editors at Gourmet deserve a similar sanctimonious dressing-down, and you can deliver it yourself at

http://www.epicurious.com/gourmet/contact/contact

10. BT asked what dish he would get if he ordered chow mein at various places around the country.

11. I told him what he would get if he ordered chow mein at Quan's Kitchen in Allston, Massachusetts.

12. So now he knows, and the only person who has any kind of problem with this is some newbie douchebag who has taken it upon himself to declare himself the final arbiter of "authenticity" as it refers to Chinese cooking.

13. If you have a problem with this, the thread for complaints is the one marked "I have never been to a more unwelcoming board." Go there and vent your little heart out.
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