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May 9, 2009 01:23 AM

Chow mein noodles

Someone on another webboard mentioned being charged extra for chow mein noodles for her soup at the local Chinese restaurant. I've been to numerous Chinese restaurants all over, including many in Berlin, Germany, several in Mexico and even one in Istanbul and Alanya, Turkey, and, for the most part, these restaurants did NOT serve chow mein noodles with the soup.

Is it normal for restaurants to serve chow mein noodles with the soup or is this something mostly found in the US and in areas with many US expats? Thank you. I will look forward to your answers.

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  1. I think she got taken. Some places serve the crunchy noodles like a little appetizer or as a topping. Never had chow mein soup. Interesting dish...

    Was the order Chow Mein Soup like ordering seaweed soup or egg flower soup?

    1 Reply
    1. re: flylice2x

      There is no mention of "chow mein soup" in the OP, just chow mein noodles served with soup, like serving crackers with soup.

    2. I usually receive a big bag of them when I order soup: It's too bad that they are usually stale and disgusting, although my husband will eat them anyway. If they weren't there, I'm sure he'd be looking for them, just like the "special" hot mustard (just Coleman's and water, I finally learned, so I can make some when they forget). This is in New York by the way. Actually, when I worked at a restaurant, one of the managers wanted Chinese one day, and he made it from scratch, and made the noodles (as I said, an integral part of the meal for most) out of cooked spaghetti, he threw it in the deep fryer til it browned, and those were the best I ever had.

      1 Reply
      1. re: coll

        In New York-New Jersey area, the server will plop a bowl of the thicker, crispy fried noodles on the table at no charge- often they will bring it before the soup- so we end up dipping the noodles in hot mustard and duck sauce- By the time the soup comes, we need a refill on the noodles!!!!

        Here in the great Mid-West ( Chicago area), it's rare to find a restaurant that will provide complimentary chow-mein noodles...Most places here charge a $1 or so, and then you end up with those mediocre La Choy style noodle......

      2. In an authentic Chinese restaurant (not an ABCDE-American Born Chinese Dining Establishment), chow mein means stir fried noodles. If you want them crispy fried, you have to ask for those and some places do charge more.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Cathy


          I do not mean to dissent, but stir fried noodles to me is Lo-Mein(soft)

          I'm curious as to which area of the States you reside in. I live in the New Jersey/New York greater are and I can tell you this is not so fact, chow mein usually refers to Pan Fried Noodles(Thin Shanghai Style Egg Noodle or Lo Mein Noodles), about 12-16 ounces worth, first cooked in water to soften and then spread out and cooked on both sides in oil (shallow fried) in a wok to make a bed of noodles for the eventual topping, i.e., beef, chicken, roast pork or seafoods.

          In this area the restaurants and take-out normally do not charge for noodles with soup and some chow mein dishes, but do charge additionally for what is deem extra and not normally given with a dish(take-out only). In most sit-down, dine-in restaurants there is no additional charge for fried noodles.

          In the Cantonese Style restaurants, fried noodles are made in two ways. A fettuccine style noodle is fried in oil in a wok(deep fried), or if it is the wider version fried noodle, the place will take egg roll skins and make slice cuts and fry them in the same manner. The latter version would be similar to taking lasagna sheets and slicing or how parpadelle pasta is cut from pasta sheets. If egg rolls skins are not as readily available in your area, you could use wonton wrappers to achieve the same result.

          1. re: fourunder

            I'm in San Diego and have several co-workers and friends who were born in China and explained this to me over the years.

            It does depend on the restaurant though as far as charging for crispy fried versus stir fried chow mein noodles (which are a different noodle than lo mein noodles in the same restaurant-one was round/tube/spaghetti shaped and one was squared/slightly flat) (but similarly prepared).

            Wikipedia says the crispy ones are Hong Kong style.

            1. re: fourunder

              mein = noodle
              chow = stir-fried
              lo = mixed
              jeen = pan-fried

              Chow mein is stir fried noodles. Lo mein can be similar, but usually the sauce is more gravy like and mixed with the noodles at a lower heat rather than firing up the wok on high. Pan fried crispy noodles are jeen mein. Hong Kong style pan fried crispy noodles use the thinner noodles.

              Of course, this may vary in your less authentic and more Chinese-American places.

          2. It's a Cantonese-American thing to serve those dry chow mein noodles.
            The only places I see it done these days are the "old school" Cantonese American restaurants. To me it's like serving a basket of bread in other restaurants...sometimes they charge you for "extra" bread or if they don't serve bread they'll charge you.

            There's a Japanese coffee shop place in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo and they have a bowl of those dry chow mein noodles and top it off with a chop suey like's pretty good if you don't mind all that crunch.