Chow Mei Fun vs Lo Mein: What’s the Difference?

Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein are popular choices for Chinese cuisine enthusiasts seeking delicious and satisfying noodle dishes. With an array of vegetables, proteins, and delectable sauces, the two dishes cater to diverse tastes. However, understanding their differences can help diners choose which dish best suits their preferences.

Chow Mei Fun, known for its thin rice noodles, is a Cantonese dish originating from Hong Kong. It boasts of a light and delicate texture while being packed with flavors due to the harmonious incorporation of various ingredients. On the other hand, Lo Mein hails from Northern China and features thicker and chewier wheat noodles. This dish often features a hearty portion of noodles expertly tossed in a rich, savory sauce.

Both dishes showcase the versatility of Chinese culinary techniques and traditions, providing a delightful eating experience. The choice between Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein often comes down to personal taste and preferences for noodle thickness, texture, and accompanying sauce intensity.

chow mein recipe

Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein: An Overview


Chow Mei Fun, also known as Chow Mai Fun, is a traditional Chinese dish originating from southern China. The dish is known for its thin rice noodles cooked with various ingredients such as vegetables, meat, and seafood. It emphasizes lightness and freshness, reflecting the culinary traditions of its origin.

Lo Mein, on the other hand, is a classic northern Chinese dish well-known in Chinese cuisine. Its name, derived from the Cantonese term for “stirred noodles,” features wheat flour noodles that are soft and pliant. This dish typically includes various ingredients, such as vegetables and proteins like chicken, beef, or pork.


In recent years, both Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein have gained popularity outside China and can now be found in Chinese restaurants around the world. These dishes offer a glimpse of the regional differences in Chinese cuisine, with Chow Mei Fun highlighting the lighter flavors of southern China and Lo Mein showcasing the heartier tastes of northern China.

As traditional Chinese dishes, Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein showcase the diverse flavors and cooking techniques of Chinese cuisine. Both dishes continue to gain fans due to their unique taste, appealing presentation, and the adaptability of their recipes to different preferences.

chow mein what is

Noodles and Ingredients

Noodle Types

Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein both use different types of noodles. Chow Mei Fun primarily utilizes rice vermicelli, also known as rice noodles. These noodles are made from white rice flour and have a delicate, thin texture. Lo Mein, on the other hand, features egg noodles made from wheat flour, which are thicker and chewier in comparison.


Both Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein incorporate a variety of vegetables to enhance their flavor profiles and provide essential nutrients. Commonly used vegetables in both dishes include:

  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Green onions
  • Bean sprouts

Meats and Seafood

Meat and seafood choices vary depending on personal preferences and regional culinary traditions. In general, both Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein can be prepared with different combinations of meats and seafood such as:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Shrimp
  • Scallops
  • Tofu (for a vegetarian option)

Sauces and Seasonings

Sauces and seasonings play an essential role in distinguishing the taste of Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein dishes. Chow Mei Fun typically uses soy sauce and oyster sauce as base seasonings, whereas Lo Mein relies more on a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce. Additionally, both dishes may include other flavorful ingredients, such as:

  • Sesame oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Ginger
  • Green onions
  • Red pepper flakes

Overall, noodles and ingredients are the key factors that differentiate Chow Mei Fun from Lo Mein and contribute to their distinct flavors and textures.

chow mein

Comparison: Chow Mei Fun vs Lo Mein

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein are both popular Chinese noodle dishes but differ in their preparation and cooking techniques. Chow Mei Fun, also known as Mei Fun, is made from thin rice noodles, while Lo Mein noodles are made from wheat flour and are thicker in comparison.

The preparation for Chow Mei Fun typically involves soaking the rice noodles in warm water until they are softened. After that, they are stir-fried in a pan with oil, along with vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, and mushrooms, as well as protein sources like chicken, seafood, pork, or shrimp. The ingredients are cooked quickly at high heat to retain their texture and freshness.

On the other hand, Lo Mein noodles are boiled until they are cooked but still firm. The cooking process for Lo Mein includes stir-frying the boiled noodles in a pan with oil, adding vegetables and meats similar to those used in Chow Mei Fun. However, the key difference lies in the method of incorporating the ingredients. Instead of stir-frying together, the noodles are tossed with the other components, allowing for even distribution of flavors.

Texture and Taste

When it comes to texture, Chow Mei Fun offers a lighter, more delicate feel due to its thin rice noodles. These noodles quickly absorb the flavors of the ingredients they are cooked with, resulting in a flavorful dish. In contrast, Lo Mein noodles are thicker and chewier, providing a more substantial and hearty bite.

The taste of the two dishes can also vary, depending on the choice of ingredients and sauces used. However, both Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein tend to be savory with a complex combination of flavors. Some variations may include additional ingredients like soy sauce and oyster sauce, contributing to the overall taste.

Appearance and Presentation

The appearance of Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein dishes mainly depends on the choice of ingredients and their cooking methods. Chow Mei Fun’s rice noodles are generally white or light in color and may appear softer and more slippery than Lo Mein noodles. The thin rice noodles are less absorbent, so the sauce tends to be more prominent and visible on the surface.

Lo Mein, with its thick wheat noodles, often showcases a darker and denser appearance. Due to its thicker and more absorbent nature, the sauce in Lo Mein is less visible, as it clings onto the noodles themselves. The presentation of both dishes usually includes an array of colorful vegetables and protein sources, resulting in visually appealing dishes.

Nutritional Aspects

Calories and Macronutrient Content

Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein are both popular Chinese noodle dishes, but they differ in nutritional aspects. Chow Mei Fun is made with rice noodles, while Lo Mein is made with wheat noodles.

Chow Mei Fun:

  • Calories: 320 kcal
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 50 g

Lo Mein:

  • Calories: 420 kcal
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Carbohydrates: 58 g

Chow Mei Fun typically has less calories, fat, and higher protein content compared to Lo Mein. Both dishes offer a variety of vegetables such as onions, bok choy, and other green vegetables. The choice of sauce can also impact the nutritional content, with oyster sauce being a common choice for enhancing flavor.

Dietary Considerations

Gluten: Since Chow Mei Fun uses rice noodles, it is a gluten-free option, whereas Lo Mein contains gluten due to the wheat noodles.

Protein Options: Both dishes can be made with various types of protein, such as meat, egg, or tofu. This allows for customization based on personal dietary preferences or restrictions.

Vegetables: Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein are often loaded with vegetables, making them a good source of vitamins and minerals. However, the number and types of vegetables in each dish may vary.

Crispy Texture: Lo Mein can sometimes have a crispy texture, which might appeal to certain tastes, but could also introduce additional fat content due to frying.

Sauces: The sauces used in both dishes can affect the overall nutritional content. Some sauces, such as soy sauce or oyster sauce, could add sodium or other macronutrients. It is important to take this into consideration when making or ordering these dishes.

Ease of Cooking: Both Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein can be easy to cook at home, allowing for even greater control over the nutritional content and customization to one’s dietary needs.

Popular Dishes and Variations

Singapore Mei Fun

Singapore Mei Fun is a popular Chinese noodle dish consisting of thin rice noodles, curry powder, and various meats, such as shrimp, chicken, or pork. The art of cooking this dish involves boiling water to quickly cook the noodles, and then stir-frying them with the meats and a seasoning comprised of curry powder, ginger, and other spices. A common accompaniment to Singapore Mei Fun is the inclusion of spring rolls or soups on the side, adding to the overall dining experience.

Chow Fun

Chow Fun is a well-known Cantonese dish made with wide, flat wheat flour noodles. The noodles are typically cooked by first immersing them in hot water and then stir-frying with different meats like beef, chicken, or shrimp, along with various vegetables. The dish stands out for its rich seasoning, which includes ingredients like ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. On occasion, Chow Fun is served with a side of eggs, providing additional protein and flavor to the meal.

Cold Noodle Salad

Cold Noodle Salad is a versatile and refreshing offering in Chinese cuisine. Traditionally, it is prepared using thin wheat flour noodles, akin to spaghetti. Boiling water is used to cook the noodles, followed by a cooling process, where they are rinsed with cold water to achieve the desired texture. Often, a tangy and flavorful dressing is prepared from ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Diced or shredded meats and vegetables are mixed with the chilled noodles, making for a light, satisfying option in the realm of Chinese noodle dishes.

These popular dishes and variations represent just a few styles within the vast array of Chinese noodle dishes. Each has its unique flavor combinations, techniques, and accompaniments, providing a rich and diverse culinary experience.

Making Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein at Home

Selecting Ingredients

Both Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein are versatile dishes that allow for a variety of ingredients. For Chow Mei Fun, start with rice sticks or rice vermicelli, which are thin, dried rice noodles. Soak them in water for a brief period before cooking to achieve the desired texture. For Lo Mein, choose egg noodles or wheat noodles, which have a denser, chewier texture.

Chow Mei Fun IngredientsLo Mein Ingredients
Rice sticksEgg noodles or wheat noodles

In both dishes, incorporate your choice of vegetables and proteins such as chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu. Broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms work well. Aromatic ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and scallions enhance the flavor.

Cooking Methods

Chow Mei Fun requires stir-frying the noodles with other ingredients, while Lo Mein calls for boiling the noodles first and then adding them to the sautéed ingredients.

When cooking Chow Mei Fun, add the soaked noodles to the stir-fry after the vegetables and proteins have been cooked. Toss everything together with a savory sauce and allow the noodles to absorb the flavors. The dish should have a crisp texture with the noodles al dente.

For Lo Mein, cook the noodles separately in a pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a separate pan, stir-fry the vegetables and proteins, then add the cooked noodles. Stir in a rich sauce that coats each strand of noodles evenly.

Serving Suggestions

Chow Mei Fun and Lo Mein should be served hot, straight from the pan. Garnish with sliced scallions or sesame seeds for extra flavor and visual appeal. Both dishes pair well with sides such as steamed vegetables, egg rolls, or dumplings.

chow mein

Chow Mein Recipe

Chow mein noodles with an authentic Chinese sauce are stir-fried with fresh veggies. This is the perfect side dish or main dish meal.
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4
Calories 331 kcal


  • Wok
  • 2-3 quart Saucepan
  • Colander


  • 6 ounces fresh or dried chow mein noodles see notes
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tsp. garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thickly sliced green cabbage
  • 1/3 cup green onions or spring onion cut into 1.5-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts


  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add the dried noodles, cooking according to the instructions on the package. Cook the noodles until they're chewy (al dente). If you're using fresh chow mein noodles, don't boil them.
  • Drain the cooked noodles into a colander, and rinse thoroughly under running cold water. This is essential to stop the process of cooking. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
  • Whisk together in a small bowl the soy sauce, oyster sauce, vegetable broth, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Set this mixture aside.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok on the stovetop over medium-high heat. When the wok is hot, add the cooking oil. When the oil starts shimmering (before it starts to smoke), add the ginger and minced garlic. Stir-fry the garlic and minced ginger for about 20 seconds. Don't overcook or burn them.
  • Add the carrots and cabbage to the wok and stir-fry until it becomes tender. This step will only take approximately 2 minutes.
  • Add the sauce and noodles to the wok. Toss them well with the veggies to combine everything, stirring well. Cook all of this until the sauce becomes thick and is coating the noodles. It will take about 1 minute. If you use fresh chow mein noodles, cook the noodles until they're tender and softened, which can take a few extra minutes.
  • Add the green onions and bean sprouts. Stir-fry for 1 more minute, just until the bean sprouts are tender. Serve while the chow mein is hot.


Cooking with Fresh Noodles: If you use fresh noodles, skip the step for boiling. Add the fresh noodles directly to the cooking pan or wok so that you get par-cooked noodles. Fresh raw noodles need a few extra minutes of cooking time, and you'll need to drain them well before you add them to the wok. If the noodles start to stick together, you can add some oil.
Substitution Noodles: Besides chow mein noodles, you can also use ramen noodles, yakisoba, regular or thin spaghetti, or thin wonton noodles.
Substitutions for Oyster Sauce: You can use teriyaki sauce or hoisin sauce instead of oyster sauce. Other options include a mixture of soy sauce and sugar (1/4 cup of soy sauce and sugar to taste). Fish sauce can also be used to give the chow mein a seafood flavor, but start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if desired.
Substitutions for Soy Sauce: If you don't want to use soy sauce, you can substitute tamari or coconut aminos.
Storing Cooked Chow Mein: Allow the chow mein to cool completely, then put it into an airtight container. It will keep well in the fridge for up to five days. To reheat, use the microwave, heating in 30-second intervals.
Noodles with More Sauce: For saucier noodles, all you need to do is double the ingredients for the sauce.


Calories: 331kcalCarbohydrates: 31gFat: 22g
Keyword chow mein recipes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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