There"s no doubt that you understand your favourite Chinese takeout items by heart. But, have you ever wondered just how these dishes acquired their name, or how they came to be staples of the American-Chinese takeout cook that us all know and love? Why is chow mein referred to as chow mein, and how is it various from the initial Chinese version?

Most Chinese takeout items get their names indigenous Cantonese, i beg your pardon is typically talked in Hong Kong. The composed language of Cantonese is basically the exact same as that of Mandarin Chinese, however the two have actually drastically different pronunciations. So, let"s malfunction what Chinese takeout items mean and also how they might be different in the us versus in China or Hong Kong.

1. Chow Mein




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This lovely noodle food is a staple of Chinese takeout restaurants in the US, and it"s frequently made with a an option of protein and vegetables like cabbage, celery, and also carrots. The words chow mein room pronounced "chao mian" (ch-awe mee-en) in Mandarin, which translated literally just means "stir-fried noodles." In the US, part restaurants offer chow mein as stir-fried noodles while others will serve it as a special stew that vegetables and meat with a next of noodles. However in China, chow mein is only served together stir-fried noodles, and it deserve to vary significantly from restaurant to restaurant because Chinese districts each have different preferences because that taste and ingredients. Stir-fried noodles have the right to basically be made v anything in her fridge, i m sorry is especially valuable if you have a many fresh produce expiring soon. 

2. Lo Mein


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While ~ above the subject of noodles, let"s talk around lo mein. What"s the difference between lo mein and chow mein? Lo mein in American-Chinese takeout is sometimes used synonymously v chow mein, meaning you"ll usually uncover one or the other on a menu. Lo mein is initially a really different dish–the indigenous "lo" is based on "lao" (l-awe), an action word definition "to scoop out;" the is supposed to define taking noodles the end of boil water. Timeless Cantonese lo mein is regularly a plate of boiled egg noodles stirred in a sweet and salty sauce offered with sides of soup, wontons, and bok choy. Lo mein in American-Chinese restaurants, ~ above the various other hand, is normally stir-fried in soy sauce instead of boiled, and also it doesn"t generally come v soup and wontons. 

3. Basic Tso"s Chicken


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General Tso"s is a crispy fried chicken dish the is doused in a sweet and also sour sauce. Sounds favor orange chicken, right? Orange chicken is in reality a variation of general Tso"s chicken that was popularized through Panda Express, therefore it has a comparable taste and appearance. General Tso"s chicken wasn"t actually developed in China. Based upon traditional Chinese flavors, basic Tso"s chicken was first made in the us by a Chinese immigrant chef that came indigenous the very same province as the formidable army officer the this food is called after–so no, basic Tso never really do chicken; he was actually a military man. Nowadays, some regional Chinese chefs have even added General Tso"s chicken to your menus after seeing the item"s success abroad. 

4. Mei Fun


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Mei funny is another kind of noodle dish, yet it"s various from chow mein and lo mein in the the noodles room made from rice flour fairly than from wheat flour. This makes them a little an ext transparent, and also it also gives lock a bouncier texture, especially due to the fact that mei fun is regularly thinner than consistent noodles. Mei funny is based upon the indigenous "mi fen" (mee fen) i m sorry literally mean "rice" and also "noodles." You can tell the Chinese people like an easy and evident literal meanings. Anyways, timeless mei fun have the right to come in all various forms and styles, from spicy soup noodles to salty stir-fried noodles to level noodles combined with sweet and also sour sauce. Top top Chinese takeout menus, mei funny is normally seen stir-fried v soy sauce and also complemented with scallions, minced meat, and also other diced veggies. 

5. Chop Suey


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Chop suey is a stir-fried dish of meat and also vegetables in a starchy sauce that is almost always served with rice. Chop suey isn"t exclusive to American-Chinese cuisine, but it"s in reality an integral part in lot of southern East eastern food. The often consists of vegetables choose onion, celery, cabbage, p sprouts, and also bamboo shoots, stir fried in a mix of soy sauce, cornstarch, oyster sauce, and Chinese cooking wine. The Chinese words because that chop suey room "za sui," (zah soo-way) i m sorry literally way "a tiny bit that this and also that." For that reason, you generally would never ever see chop suey top top a restaurant"s menu in China, but stir-frying a whole bunch that stuff with each other is a an essential part that the Chinese food preparation style. In that respect, chop suey is basically an overarching word that describes stir-fried vegetables and meat.

6. Egg Foo Young




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You might or may not have heard of egg foo young before, however it is often discovered on a Chinese takeout restaurant"s menu. Egg foo young is one omelet dish that has meat or veggies and also can be served with a brown gravy and a side of rice. Sometimes, it have the right to be ordered on the side to go v your main meal, prefer egg roll or crab rangoon. While egg foo young in Chinese takeout is almost always fried in the form of an omelet, the timeless Chinese version dubbed "fu rong dan" (foo r-ohng dan) can additionally look favor a bowl of steam eggs and also is generally topped v soy sauce or scallions instead of gravy. Choose chop suey and General Tso"s chicken, this article isn"t usually uncovered on the menus of local restaurants in China, however it is actually more commonly made at home to share family members style. 

7. Moo Shu


Not come be perplexed with the "indestructible Mushu" from the Disney movie Mulan, moo shu is traditionally a food that features wood ear, a form of fungus the is typically dark brown in color and also spongey in texture. It likewise can be cooked v pork, egg, cucumber, and also mushroom. Although originally based on a timeless Chinese dish containing hardwood ear, the American-Chinese takeout items nowadays normally replaces hardwood ear v cabbage or bok choy, due to the fact that wood ear is not marketed in most American grocery stores. Although moo shu maybe really well-recognized in the US, the timeless Chinese variation "mu xu rou" (moo shoo roh) is quite a rare uncover on menus that a local Chinese restaurant and also is actually more commonly make in Chinese households.