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Mar 31, 2013 04:12 PM

Guatemalan "chao mein"

I was at a Guatemalan restaurant a couple of days ago and they had "chao mein" on their menu. Based on some Googling, it appears there's a version of Chinese "chow mein" that is popular in some Central American countries, like Guatemala and El Salvador. Has anyone had this? How is it different from the Chinese version?

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    1. re: seamunky

      Yes, I did come across that, thanks!. But since the poster indicated that the recipe represented her own version, I was curious as to whether there were general characteristics that define Guatemalan/Central American chao mein as opposed to the Chinese version.

      1. re: msiangal

        I've seen this in pretty much every Latino bodega and tried it once. It's pretty much like the lo-mein you find in Chinese American carryouts: squarish wheat noodles tossed with vegetables, meat, and soy sauce. Very popular in the Carribean, where it's been adapted to local tastes with scotch bonnet peppers. I've never seen it on the menu in any Salvadorean restaurants, though.

        1. re: monkeyrotica

          "It's pretty much like the lo-mein you find in Chinese American carryouts"

          That's too bad, actually...makes me less interested in trying it. But the Caribbean version with scotch bonnet peppers sounds promising!

          1. re: msiangal

            I tried it in a Trinidad/Tobago eatery once and found it inedibly hot. I'm pretty sure I saw through time.

    2. I'm pretty sure I've seen it on the menu of every Guatemalan restaurant I've been in save one and the 'chao mein helper' on the shelves of every grocery store catering to the Guatemalan community.

      I've never tried it but witnessed a customer greedily devouring it at one place and the owner urged me to try it when I asked for his recommendation from his menu.

      I've never seen it on a Salvadoran menu that I can recall but I do remember the first Honduran restaurant I ever went to, being surprised at the bottles of Kikkoman's Soy Sauce on the tables and the Shap Suey and Shao Main on the menu.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brucesw

        "and the Shap Suey and Shao Main on the menu"

        Always interesting to see which aspects of a cuisine manage to cross over.

      2. "chap sui" and other similar dishes are also popular in Chilean Chinese restaurants. It's fairly similar to typical, "old fashioned" US Chinese food--all the sweet and sour, deep fried, fried wantans, etc... Also big on beef dishes. Of course, with the element that Chilean Chinese food has even fewer spices or garlic than the US version. About the Caribbean Chinese food mentioned in the thread, I'd imagine that as being from English-speaking islands as they would tend to eat spicer food than the Spanish-speaking.