Food Guide

Cantonese Chow-Mein VS Chow-Mein: What’s The Difference?

Cantonese Chow-Mein VS Chow-Mein
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Is there any difference between Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein?

Well, yes, there is.

Most people think the prime difference between Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein dishes is the type of noodles that are being used.

However, that does not add up when you realize Chow Mein noodles are crispy while Cantonese is soft.

Well, the real difference lies in how you prepare the noodles.

Chow Mein means stir-fried noodles.

The texture is kind of soft and a bit chewy.

Whereas Cantonese Chow Mein is tossed noodles with a heavy sauce.

Chow Mein and Cantonese style Chow Mein both basically fall in the Chinese fried noodles cuisine.

In this article, we have compared all aspects of these delicious noodles.

Read further to know from preparation to ingredients, and how Cantonese Chow-Mein and Chow-Mein are served and eaten.

 What is Cantonese Chow Mein?

In the traditional Cantonese Chow Mein, the noodles are mostly flash-fried or pan-fried to bring a super crispy taste.

It also refers to tossed or mixed noodles.

Cantonese Chow Mein uses noodles that are fully cooked.

Cantonese Chow Mein is a bit heavier on the flavours.

The noodles are first cooked separately.

Cooked noodles are mixed with sauce along with ingredients like beef, pork, vegetable.

Napa cabbage is often used as topping in the dish.

Cantonese Chow Mein dish is much deep coated with sauce for a strong, delicious flavour.

The meal has a lot of vegetables and protein inside it that have been blended into the noodles as well as sauces.

Though traditionally, this is a dry variation of noodle soup.

The soup is simply separated from the noodles and other ingredients and served on the side.

It can be eaten with wontons and vegetables.

What is Chow Mein?

In general, Chow Mein means stir-fried noodles.

More specifically, there are two types of main Chow Mein dishes.

1. Steamed Chow Mein
2. Crisp Chow Mein

Steamed Chow Mein has a soft texture.

First, it is semi-cooked with hot water then tossed over high heat with the accompanying ingredients.

On the other hand, Crisp Chow Mein uses fried, flat noodles, while soft Chow Mein uses long, rounded noodles.

Crisp Chow Mein either has onions and celery or is served strained without any vegetables.

In both styles of Chow Mein recipe, the noodles are the true star of the dish.

In Chow Mein, any extra vegetables and protein ingredients are kept minimum, so they do not distract from the crunchy noodle.

Noodles are a bit oily in the case of steamed Chow Mein.

Chow Mein is a noodle dish without sauce.

Sometimes you can slightly apply sauce, but it does not overshadow or weigh down the noodles.

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Comparison Between Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein

Both Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein are made with egg noodles.

Wheat flour noodle with egg added.

If you are confused between Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein, you are not alone.

Even if their general definition can clear slight confusion, but the main reason is still not disclosed.

The fundamental distinction between Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein is indeed the cooking process, as both cuisines are variations of noodles.

Those would be the key distinctions between each Chinese noodle dish’s cooking techniques:

How to prepare them?

The cooking processes for Chow Mein and Cantonese Chow Mein are radically different, despite the fact that both dishes call for comparable components.

Before stir-frying, the noodles need to be soaked in warm water to make them soft.

First preparing Chow Mein noodles by frying them separately, then pour some stir-fried meat and vegetables over the fried noodles.

The Chow Mein noodles can also be stir-fried with meat and vegetables.

On the other side, Cantonese Chow Mein needs to be completely cooked to mix the noodles with other ingredients.
Since the main essence of Cantonese Chow Mein is the special sauce.

Thus, Cantonese Chow Mein recipes mostly have more sauce compared to Chow Mein recipes.

The Wok Techniques

Using wok for making Chinese food is a very old renowned technique.

Both Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein tastes even better when it is prepared with the wok.

However, the way people cook using wok may differ.

While preparing Chow Mein. It needs a very small bit of oil on a well-heated wok to fry these ingredients lightly.

For Cantonese Chow Mein, the noodles are already boiled and is simply combined with the remaining ingredients rather than being fried.

There’s not much heavy activity on the pan.

The Sauce

The sauce in Chow Mein is applied very slightly so that sauce can’t overshadow and weigh down the noodles.

Chow Mein noodles are mostly dry noodles.

It is extremely light as well as delicate.

In the Cantonese Chow Mein, the sauce is the real star.

Mixing with sauce makes Cantonese Chow Mein more flavourful and richer.

Cantonese Chow Mein is a saucy noodle.

In essence, Cantonese Chow Mein is a dry variation of traditional noodle soup.

To mimic the texture of the soup, the chef drowns the noodle dish in a savory sauce.

The texture

Chow Mein noodles are crunchier than Cantonese noodles because of the way they are cooked.

Steamed Chow Mein is soft.

Since they are thoroughly cooked before even being mixed with any additional ingredients or sauces.

Cantonese noodles are often smoother and somewhat chewier.

Cantonese Chow Mein noodles are thicker as well as sturdier than regular Chow Mein noodles, allowing them to hold the weight for more sauce.

The Origin

There has always been much debate about the origin of Chow Mein.

Despite the fact that food historians can’t agree about who created these incredible meals or where these came from, they.

However, this stir-fry meal, whose name is derived in the Mandarin-chomiàn or the Taishanese chu-mèing, is said to have developed in Northern China.

That is something most researchers have agreed on.

The honorific

Chow Mein is called (Chao mian) in the Chinese language.

The two words literally mean stir-fried noodles.

Cantonese Chow Mein is also called Lo Mein.

These two words literally mean mixed or tossed noodles.

Frying Time

In many Chinese take-out restaurants, Chow Mein that has thin crisp are a staple.

The authentic version of Chow Mein has soft noodles.

The difference between the two comes down to frying time, crisper noodles more oil, and the increase of frying time.

Oil heat and frying time differ.


Chow Mein recipe used minimum vegetables and proteins so that they don’t distract the crunchiness of noodles.

Whereas Cantonese Chow Mein recipe used extra vegetables and proteins as toppings and drizzled the extra sauce over the dish.

In Chow Mein, a vegetable like celery, ginger, carrot, cabbage is being used.

On the other hand, Cantonese Chow Mein used Tofu, Napa cabbage, Pork belly, and beef.  

Comparison Table of Cantonese Chow Mein and Chow Mein

Our Top Recommendations

You will find some tasty Chow Mein and Cantonese Chow Mein on amazon.

So, make sure your experience is fresh and unique.

The top favourite Chow Mein products are:


La Choy Chow Mein Noodles is a beef flavor Chow Mein that is very quick to cook.

There are 4 packs available in.

They are very light and crunchy noodles. It is a tasty complement to any meal or salad when sprinkled on top, or you can also consume as a delicious snack by themselves.

Welpac Chow Mein

Welpac Chow Mein is an Asian style Chow Mein stir-fry noodles.

They are made with Wheat flour, salt, and dye #5.

You will get 12 packs of this item.

This is a stir fry noodle that needs only 3 minutes of boiling.

So, drain well and fry the noodles.

When they have dried a little, you can mix them with homemade garlic-infused oil to prevent further drying. It also prevents them from sticking together in one big lump.

Nissin Chow Mein Instant Noodle

If you like your noodles to be a bit spicy.

You need to try this Teriyaki chicken flavor Chow Mein.

This, too, comes in a pack of 12 and is easy to make.

It comes with sauce and seasoning pack.

This is a perfect meal which is quick, easy, and delicious!

Related Questions

What is the difference between the noodles and Chow Mein?

Noodles is a thin and long strip made from flour, whereas Chow-Mein is a dish made with noodles.

The term ‘chow’ means fried and ‘mein’ means noodles.

So, Chow Mein refers to a dish made with fried noodles.

Noodles and Chow Mein were invented among the Chinese communities.

Both these are popular dishes among the Chinese and non-Chinese communities around the world.

Both dishes can be served dipped in a sauce.

The key difference between noodles and Chow Mein is that noodles are made from flour dough and then soft boiled while Chow Mein is the final dish when these noodles are fried.

So, all Chow Mein is noodles, but all noodles are not Chow Mein.

Can I use spaghetti noodles to make Chow Mein?

Yes, you can use spaghetti noodles to make Chow Mein.

In Chinese recipes, spaghetti is served in soup, cold noodle dishes, and stir-fried noodles.

The stir-fried spaghetti also tastes good. You can also add the sauce to it.

But real Chinese noodles and spaghetti and Italian pasta are not made similar to Chinese noodles.

Can You Freeze Chow Mein?

Yes, definitely, you can freeze Chow Mein.

You have to store Chow Mein in an airtight container or bag and you can keep them for 2 to 3 months in the freezer.

If you freeze Chow Mein precisely, these noodles will go through minimal texture and flavor changes.

If the temperature of the freezer is constant, the noodles will stay good for longer.

Can you reheat Chow Mein?

Yes, you can reheat Chow Mein.

For reheating the Chow Mein, you need to defrost in the fridge overnight. 

Once the noodles are fully thawed, transfer them into a preheated pan with a little oil.

For evenly reheating, you have to stir the noodles continuously.

If you don’t have time to defrost them in the fridge.

You can leave them at room temperature for some time and reheat them using the microwave.

Final Thoughts

Taste is always a matter of preference, and this is not possible to predict.

I like both, and it all depends on how they are prepared as both are good.

While some noodle lovers enjoy the crunch of dried egg noodles expertly stir-fried into a delicious Chow Mein dish, others prefer a heaping bowl of steaming, sauce-soaked Cantonese chow Mein.

You can get a greater variety of texture in a Chow Mein dish.

For example, crunchy noodles and celery could be combined with soft mushrooms, bean sprouts, and juicy tomatoes.

It is very tough to choose which one is better.


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