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Feb 9, 2011 03:50 AM

Deciphering local Chinese delivery

Since moving to Boston from Ohio several years ago, I've been intrigued by the differences in Chinese takeout/delivery places. French fries on the menu was a surprise, for one :)

But the one that baffles me is in the 'chop suey and chow mein' section -- many places say they offer "Chicago or Subgum style" for 50c extra. A Google search turns up a lot of confusion. Can anyone clear up what these styles mean?

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  1. I think it just means you get larger pcs of veggies.
    Although i think id be more likely to order french fries than from that section!

    1. i think "subgum style" means it includes vegetables

      1. So if 'subgum' might mean extra veggies, anybody know what "Chicago style" is?

        I'm no fan of chow mein or chop suey, but I'd love to know what the menu means.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Boston_Otter

          Chicago style chop suey has very large pieces of vegetables instead of the traditional thin pieces. It is also brown in color and I believe the items have been fried. The pieces are very wide and large. Subgum style means more of a variety of veggies.

          1. re: Johnresa

            Thanks! That clears things up a bit. Some folks theorized that Chicago style meant that the noodles were deep fried or that it had a clear sauce instead of "Boston-style" brown sauce, or vice versa.

            I think I'll avoid the confusion by never ordering Chop Suey in any style whatosever!

            1. re: Boston_Otter

              It's definitely a regional thing. I was in San Jose once and ordered Chow Mein, expecting slivered onion, celery and lots of bean sprouts in a white sauce. Instead I got a plate of what we around here would call Lo Mein???, noodles with some veg and meat. They had no idea what I was talking about.

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                LOL. That would make sense. Then you would know what you would NOT be getting. I am not a huge chow mein or chop suey fan myself so i understand. I do like the chow mein at Sun Kong in Malden though...go figure.

                Sun Kong Restaurant
                275 Eastern Ave, Malden, MA 02148

          2. Growing up, subgum was always diced veggies most often with almonds in it. I have not seen it on menus for years. Back in the day it was our standard order out in central ma !

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowmel

              Yeah, the last time I remember seeing 'subgum' was in the 80s. It's definitely a holdover from the pseudo-polynesian joints of yesteryear

            2. I think another good rule is never to order anything from a Chinese restaurant that has french fries on the menu.

              The "strange" local custom with Chinese food that floored me when I first moved here was the practice of serving dinner rolls with the food. Coming from the NYC area, I expected (and was disappointed) the crunchy lo mein noodles that every Chinese food delivery comes with in that area.