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What Is The Difference Between Chow Mein And Chow Fun?

Two of the most well-known Chinese noodle meals across the world are chow mein and chow fun.

However, due to their identical titles and perceived identity as noodles, few people are aware of how these two noodle types vary from one another. 

If you are curious about how these dishes compare to one another, then keep reading!

What Is The Difference Between Chow Mein And Chow Fun?

What Is Chow Mein?

Noodles in a stir-fry dish known as chow mein can be either soft or crunchy. This dish’s noodles are appropriately referred to as chow mein noodles. They are not too thick, slightly crinkly, and yellowish due to the egg in the dough.

Chow Mein can be prepared either wet or dry. While the dry variety has the Mein deep fried, the wet form utilizes extra water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. This makes it simple to tell the noodles from the meat.

Frequently added vegetables include cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts. For more protein, you can also include chicken, beef, pork, or tofu. The layer of soy and oyster sauce holds this meal together.

Although most people think that Chow Mein came from America, it is actually a Chinese dish. Aswell as this, there is a widespread belief among Westerners that Chinese food is sweet and sour and abundant in rice.

While this is somewhat accurate, it is important to point out that noodles, not rice, are the main dish in China’s northern regions.

What Is Chow Fun?

A rice noodle meal called chow fun is frequently made with meat or seafood, plenty of prepared veggies, and merely a light stir-fry.

This dish has plenty of texture from the broad, ribbon-like rice noodles, which are pleasantly chewy, providing for a filling dinner.

The term “chow fun” only refers to very broad noodles. They are normally offered dry, either in broad strips or in sheets, and are often manufactured from pulverized rice.

The Chinese have many chow fun meals that change the kinds of meats fried in a wok with the rice noodles. These come in roast chicken, shrimp, and pork variants.

The protein is frequently fried with crisp vegetables including carrots, onions, and cabbage.

Shahe Fun is another name for Chow Fun. The Shahe town rice noodles used in the Chow Fun dish are local. This is a Guangzhou neighborhood.

Noodles called Shahe Fun, which are from Southern Chinese cuisine, have spread to countries in the Southern East such Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

How Do You Make Chow Mein?

Because of their nature, the rice noodles used in chow fun are just gently stir-fried and don’t typically get very crunchy.

But when we are talking about chow mein on the other hand, while making a batch of chow mein, egg noodles are cooked in one of two methods and do turn crispy.

Noodles may be crisped by adding them to the stir fry together with the meat and veggies, tossing them about, and letting everything cook and crisp at the same time.

This method involves frying the egg noodles for a longer period of time to give them some crispness.

The second and most common approach is to heat vegetable oil in a wok, add all of the noodles at once, and stir-fry them while holding them together so they cook into something resembling a big hash brown or potato pancake. 

As a consequence, the fried noodles will have a deliciously crisp and crispy surface and a soft and delicate core. Then, meat, veggies, and spices are stir-fried and placed on top of the fried noodle pancake.

What kinds of veggies and meat are frequently used in chow mein? The most popular option is chicken, but there are also some delectable alternatives, such as tofu, pig, and lobster.

Frequently, vegetables like bok choy, cabbage, and sugar snap peas will be cooked alongside the beef.

Although chow mein is frequently less saucy than chow fun, it still contains a lot of savory sauce components, such as sesame oil, rice wine, oyster sauce, and soy sauce.

How Do You Make Chow Fun?

It’s all about the stir fry once the noodles are made! Tender beef strips are frequently used in chow fun meals, but other proteins, such as roast pig, shrimp, or chicken, are also acceptable.

A sizzling hot wok is used to fry the meat, along with lots of crunchy vegetables including carrots, onions, and cabbage.

The soaked rice noodles are added after the meat and veggies have been perfectly stir-fried, stir-fried for a brief period of time over high heat, and then everything is seasoned with savory sauces such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, or hoisin sauce.

Occasionally, the meal is finished, crispy bean sprouts are added, and then it is served.

How Are Chow Mein And Chow Fun Similar?

How Are Chow Mein And Chow Fun Similar?

You’ll immediately note that both of these meals start with the word “chow” while looking at the menu at a Chinese restaurant.

This phrase translates to “fried,” although it refers to how the foods are to be prepared, not what is within. Therefore, you can be sure that both of these meals will be prepared by frying or stir-frying.

Both chow mein and chow fun use noodles as a basis, which are then topped with a variety of other toppings, which is another resemblance between the two recipes.

Both of these meals will often consist of fried or stir-fried noodles served with a variety of meats, seafood, veggies, and a soy sauce-based sauce to bring it all together, however the noodles themselves may vary.

The noodles must be partly cooked before being fried or stir-fried in any of these noodle meals.

Depending on the type of noodles used, pre-cooking will take different amounts of time and involve different techniques, but it is essential to the preparation of both noodle meals.

How Are Chow Mein And Chow Fun Different?

Here, we will have a proper look at the different aspects of both dishes and how they differ from one another.


White, thick, flat chow fun noodles are available. In contrast, chow mein resembles spaghetti in that it is spherical, thin, and yellowish. They essentially look the same whether they are raw or cooked.

The most typical method of making chow fun is to stir-fry seasoned beef pieces with rice noodles and bean sprouts. The mein also tends to appear greasier because of its large surface.

Because the noodles are thicker, they typically seem mushy rather than crispy.

On the other hand, stir-fried chow mein meals are typically presented in restaurants looking crisp. Chow mein also has a bigger surface area overall since they are thin. Consequently, although not appearing as oily, they often store more oil.

Similar to chow fun, egg noodle meals sometimes have cooked meat or veggies on top. To absorb the various sauces, chefs often keep the crispy egg noodles dry. In several recipes, the noodles are instructed to be pressed into the bottom of the pan.


In regard to chow fun, the flat rice noodles offered at restaurants often have a greasier and more slippery feel. For chow mein though, the noodles are often dryer and simpler to pick up with chopsticks.

Chinese cooks create chow fun in an oilier manner, which gives them their oilier texture. Wet cooking is a common technique used to produce chow fun in many Cantonese restaurants.

This method of cooking refers to the step of soaking the noodles in oil before cooking.

Then, while they are still damp, they are fried, making them more slippery. Chow mein, on the other hand, is made by boiling and straining the ingredients.

This method of preparation, which is the same as for pasta, is well known. Cantonese chow mein are stir-fried after being boiled until the outsides are somewhat crispy and blackened.


Chow mein tastes more like pasta than chow fun, which has a flavor similar to that of rice. The flavor of the flat rice mein is more akin to sticky rice or pounded rice cakes.

However, unlike plain cooked rice, rice used to make chow fun is refined, giving it a smooth, light sweetness. Chow mein also has a flavor that is similar to egg yolk and includes hints of sulfur.

Chinese cooks typically prepare chow fun meals in a wok using the dry-frying technique. The noodle dish’s smokey flavor is created by using a wok or deep pan.

Once the egg noodles in chow mein dishes are cooked, the scent will thrill your nose. To give the mein a smokey flavor, chefs might also gently sear the surfaces of the noodles.

Although there are many different chow mein recipes, traditional Chinese cooking techniques frequently use fragrant ingredients like onions, ginger, and garlic. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, and brown sugar are common additions as well.

These traditional Chinese recipes contain a variety of meats and vegetables, such as mushrooms, chicken, and pork. Although they serve as the dish’s foundation, noodles are typically not the star of Chinese cuisine.

Therefore, the rich flavors are a result of the inclusion of other components.


Chow fun contains more calories per serving than chow mein, with the majority of those calories coming from carbs. Chow mein, on the other hand, contains more protein and fat per meal than chow fun.

Rice noodles are inherently gluten-free, which is good news for anyone who has gluten sensitivities. The sauces used in common rice noodle recipes, however, can contain wheat ingredients.

So, search for recipes that don’t call for sauces made from wheat.

The nutritional content of these Chinese recipes may be improved by adding veggies and protein. Both chow mein and chow fun recipes may be found online in large quantities. 

The various sauces can enhance the flavor of the noodles without adding any meat proteins if you do not want to use meat in your dish.


Even though they have similar names and outward looks, chow mein and chow fun are actually completely different from one another.

Each meal uses various noodles, ingredients, and cooking techniques and comes from a different region of one of the biggest countries on earth.

A rice noodle meal called chow fun is frequently made with meat or seafood, plenty of prepared veggies, and merely a light stir-fry.

This dish has plenty of texture from the broad, ribbon-like rice noodles, which are pleasantly chewy, providing for a filling dinner.

Chow mein employs a slightly different cooking method, even though the egg noodles are still fried, to give them a genuine crispness.

The fried noodles of chow mein are ideal when topped with saucy chicken or seafood and veggies, regardless of whether they are stir-fried all at once or toasted up as a crunchy noodle pancake.

Jess Smith