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Deciphering local Chinese delivery

Boston_Otter Feb 9, 2011 03:50 AM

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. h
    hargau RE: Boston_Otter Feb 9, 2011 04:25 AM

    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. galangatron RE: Boston_Otter Feb 9, 2011 09:07 AM

      i think "subgum style" means it includes vegetables

      1. Boston_Otter RE: Boston_Otter Feb 10, 2011 04:09 AM

        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
          Johnresa RE: Boston_Otter Feb 10, 2011 09:38 AM

          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
            Boston_Otter RE: Johnresa Feb 10, 2011 09:58 AM

            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
              Fishegg RE: Boston_Otter Feb 11, 2011 03:26 AM

              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
                Johnresa RE: Boston_Otter Feb 12, 2011 08:22 AM

                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. c
            chowmel RE: Boston_Otter Feb 12, 2011 05:22 PM

            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
              jgg13 RE: chowmel Feb 12, 2011 05:49 PM

              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. m
              mwk RE: Boston_Otter Feb 13, 2011 11:23 AM

              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.

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