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House Special Pan Fried Noodles

I'm looking for help finding this dish prepared a certain way.

When I was younger, there was a place in San Diego that made these really well that has gone out of business. I've tried ordering it at other places since then and have realized that the style of pan fried noodles I got at that place in SD years ago is not the normal style.

I'm finding that the norm for this dish is a bird's nest of crunchy noodles, topped with sauce, meats and veggies. The sauce is either a nice rich brown sauce, like a oyster sauce I think, or it's that weird clear ectoplasm gravy.

That is NOT the way I want it. The way that place in SD made it, the noodles were thicker, but not as thick as the szechuan style fried noodles common in SGV (although the place in San Diego that made these good pan fried noodles was called "taste of szechuan") picture something between Szechuan style fried noodles and regular pan fried noodles... They weren't fried to a crisp, they were fried so that the noodles were very well browned and crispy in some places and still noodle-y in others. And the sauce was that rich, brown (oyster?) sauce.

If anyone knows a place that makes it in the style I like, let me know! I have tried to find pictures of what I want that will help

This one looks close http://www.cafetaipeihouston.com/imag...
this one does too http://cdn.biggestmenu.com/00/00/9b/2...

this one has the kind of noodles I DON'T want. http://s3-media2.ak.yelpcdn.com/bphot...
so does this one http://www.toatoachineserestaurant.co...

Unfortunately, there are no pics of the pan fried noodle dish I liked from that place.

I wish I could describe what I liked about that dish better, I think it really boils down to not completely frying the noodle and using a thicker noodle, and not using that ectoplasm gravy. Thanks for the help!

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  1. Your photos of the dish you are seeking just look like "lo mein" to me. Have you tried ordering pan fried lo mein at your favorite Chinese place and seeing if you get what you want?

    lo mein images here: https://www.google.com/search?num=10&...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      The noodle was exactly like lo mein, but the fried, crispy aspect was a key part of the dish.

      Pan fried lo mein tends to be not nearly fried enough.

      The style I'm looking for has about 50% of the noodle fried to a dark brown, even borderline black in places, and the other 50% is like normal noodle. Again I wish I was describing this better. I ordered pan fried lo mein once and it wasn't nearly crispy enough.

      If you know a specific place that makes PF lo mein that has the level of crispiness you see in the photos I posted, I'd love the rec, but the pictures your link brings up are (in almost every case) not nearly fried enough.

      I guess I'm looking for something between lo mein and the typical "bird's nest" style HSPFN.

    2. Why not go to a place like Yang Chow, which has the thick lo mein noodles you want, and ask for it to be extra crispy?

      1. The first picture likes like a different type of noodle that I've seen used in a few places for chow mein. I think Paul's Kitchen near the Garment District used those noodles at one point, but they did not fry them as much as you are looking for.

        1. years ago, Twin Dragon on Pico had pan fried noodle dishes that looked like your photos......haven't been there in ages so don't know if still on menu

          1. BrewNChow, I personally like the kind of noodles you don't like, but I have had noodles fairly close to the first two pics you posted, just wish I could remember where. Hop Li? I can't recall if they had the thinner, yellow, crunchy-fried noodles or the thicker kind that you like.

            The ideal noodles that you want, is the fried portion of the noodle kind of hard-and-chewy, rather than crisp-and-crumbly, and depends on the sauce to soften the fried parts enough to eat?

            3 Replies
            1. re: PeterCC

              I was also thinking Hop Li for those kinds of noodles, but haven't ordered this type of dish there in a while, and haven't been to either Hop Li but sparingly...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Hop Li is my emergency-authentic Chinese food place to go. I try not to "have to" go there more than once or twice a year. I'd rather go to Chin Chin and enjoy it for what it is, if I can't go to SGV for the real stuff.

                (Admittedly, I haven't tried Hop Woo or Mandarin Kitchen, which I hear is better than Hop Li, while still being on the Westside.)

                Edit: Looking at the photos on Yelp for Hop Li, it looks like they use the thin yellow noodles: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/FR6vaL...

              2. re: PeterCC

                YES you definitely seem to be talking about the same noodles.

                I had to laugh when I saw Hop Li mentioned. No, I haven't been there, but one of the pics I put of the noodles I don't want is from... you guessed it. So I don't think I'll go to Hop Li haha

              3. Hrm, try the "Three Ingredient Pan Fried Noodles" at Ming Wa in Alhambra. It's been a while but I'm pretty sure that is where I have had noodles like that before.

                I didn't find any pictures on Yelp unfortunately and I don't think I have any pictures of my own, so I guess I hope I am remembering correctly :)


                Edit: found this guy's pictures, I think he ordered the non-pan fried version. Pretty sure the pan fried version is crispy like you are looking for.


                4 Replies
                1. re: Argyle of Sock

                  You might be on to something about the name of the dish. I think I ordered something called that at Hop Li before, and when I do a Google Image search, I do still get some thin crispy yellow noodles, but I also get this: http://www.foodspotting.com/reviews/3.... That is basically what I was talking about above, with the noodles harder rather than crispy when fried, and looks like the second pic BrewNChow linked to in his OP.

                  1. re: PeterCC

                    Also found this...


                    Verna is a friend of mine, it's possible I was with her when she had that meal.

                    (I also like the dumplings and the pork with potherb noodle soup there)

                    1. re: Argyle of Sock

                      i was at ming wa this past friday. we had the three ingredient pan fried noodles but we had a choice of noodles and went with the recommendation of the waitress (who actually came to our table w/o having to flag her down, probably because my party included two caucasians).

                      the noodles weren't the one seemingly sought for.

                      their scallion pancake was actually quite memorable, much more rustic & irregularly shaped. we ordered the cold beef and made our own impromptu beef rolls with them.

                    2. re: PeterCC

                      Thanks for helping! It definitely seems like you guys are thinking of the same kind of noodle. I'll give this place a try and let you guys know how it is.

                      Has anyone tried Mei Long's version? From the pictures on yelp, I couldn't tell if it was done the way I wanted or not... looks like a possibility. http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/sWeN-L...

                  2. You have hit a nerve with me! I used to love a "pan-fried noodle" from a place that no longer exists that sounds like what you want. They were referred to as "cake style" in that you could actually cut them into a square and they would hold together but they were soft underneath the crispy outer layer. There were no veggies or meats - just a sauce.
                    This picture is the closest I could find - http://the-cooking-of-joy.blogspot.co... - if it works for you - I would suggest asking for them "cake style"!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: shebop

                      Was this in LA? What place was that?

                      In my experience "cake noodles" are a Hawaiian-Chinese food thing, and I rarely encounter them on the mainland. The only place I know of off the top of my head to get them on the mainland is Wo Fat in Las Vegas, but I hear there are a few places in Washington state that serve it too.

                      Hawaiian-style cake noodles are thicker than the HK style thin noodles found at the HK style restaurants in the SGV, but thinner than the noodles that the OP is searching for.

                      Alternately, you can always book a flight to Hawaii and eat at any random Chinese restaurant :) Here's a picture (not mine) that I found of typical Hawaiian-style cake noodles:


                      1. re: Argyle of Sock

                        That's the way my grandfather cooked the dish. I'm guessing "cake" style was short for pancake, really similar to the "bird nest" Hong Kong style described above for the thinner noodles except that the current noodle is so much thinner than the old style Cantonese noodles. I'd check out any of the old time Cantonese places still left such as Canton City in Montebello, Ho Sai Kai in South L.A. and perhaps even Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood to see if they still cook the dish this way.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Man, it would be great if those places served it that way - the easiest of those for me to get to of those is probably Canton City, but I didn't find too many pictures of their noodles on the internet...so if anyone goes and tries them, reply back!

                          Also, just for fun I threw "cake noodle" into Google and I found a few articles about the Hawaiian variation:


                        2. re: Argyle of Sock

                          There's a Wo Fat - like the Honolulu Wo Fat - in Vegas?

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            Yes, but I am not sure if they are actually affiliated with the Wo Fat in Honolulu.


                            1. re: Argyle of Sock

                              The name alone probably draws every buddha head gambling in town. Thanks

                      2. Maybe try Little Hong Kong Cafe on Sawtelle? There are a couple of pics of their version on Yelp. It's one of my favorite dishes there and it sounds pretty similar to what you are looking for.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Juji

                          What you are looking for are the Cantonese Pan Fried Egg Noodles and yes Little Hong Kong Cafe serves this dish. It is quite excellent there.