Chow mein vs. Lo mein: What is the difference between Chow mein and Lo mein?

Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein: Both Chow Mein and Lo Mein are Chinese noodles prepared from almost the same ingredients. The most significant difference between Chow Mein and Lo Mein lies in their cooking techniques. Where Chow Mein involves the addition of stir-fried noodles to the vegetables or meat, Lo Mein tosses boiled noodles into the veggies or meat.

Considering Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein definitions for understanding

What is Chow Mein?

Chow Mein refers to ‘fried noodles’ in the Chinese language. Par-boiled noodles are stir-fried in a wok and added to the vegetables or meat for preparing this dish.

What is Lo Mein?

Lo Mein refers to ‘tossed noodles’ in the Chinese language. Fully boiled noodles are tossed with the saucy vegetable or meat preparation for a scrumptious meal.

Looking at the similarities between Chow Mein and Lo Mein

  • Both Chow Mein and Lo Mein have their origins in China.
  • Both are made from wheat flour and eggs. 
  • Both enhance the sodium levels of the body as they have sauces (soy, hoisin, and fish) that are high in sodium. 
  • Both are loaded with calories, with around 1000 calories per serving.
  • They are considered unhealthy.

Listing the pros and cons of Chow Mein and Lo Mein

Pros of Chow Mein

  • It provides a great snacking option.
  • It contains lesser sauce that translates to low sodium levels.

Cons of Chow Mein

  • The noodles are fried separately, making the dish more oily.
  • It is generally considered unhealthy.

Pros of Lo Mein

  • It provides a great meal option.
  • Since noodles are not fried but boiled before tossing them into the meat or veggies, the dish is less oily.

Cons of Lo Mein

  • It is a saucy preparation that translates to higher sodium content.
  • The overall dish is considered unhealthy.

Considering Chow Fun vs. Lo Mein for further clarity

Chow Fun is the Chinese noodles prepared from rice noodles that are different in shape than the egg noodles used in Lo Mein. These rice noodles are flatter and wider rather than rounder like egg noodles. Chow Fun is prepared by stir-frying the rice noodles separately before adding them to the meat or veggies. However, Lo Mein does not involve ant stir-frying of the noodles.

Are Chow Mein noodles soft or crunchy?

Chow Mein noodles are crunchy as they are stir-fried to attain crispiness. 

Does Chow Mein taste like Lo Mein?

Chow Mein and Lo Mein have a unique taste that can be told apart by the texture of the noodles in them. The crispy fried noodles of Chow Mein tastes differently than the soft, boiled, and saucy noodles of Lo Mein. 

What is in house special Lo Mein?

In-house special Lo Mein is a quick-dinner recipe. Simply stir-fry the leftover vegetables and meat at home and add the parboiled noodles to it. One can add a Lo Mein sauce for that saucy flavor previously exclusive to restaurants. 

What's worse: fried rice or chow mein?

With higher calories, fried rice is considered worse than Chow mein. Where fried rice has around 570 calories per bowl, a similar quantity of Chow Mein has just 400 calories. That said, fried rice has lower sodium (900 mg)  than Chow Mein (1060 mg).

Is Lo Mein Japanese or Chinese?

Lo Mein is Chinese. It translates to ‘tossed noodles’ in Chinese.

What does Chow Mein taste like?

Chow Mein has the flavor of a fried savory food item. The fried noodles, when tossed in little sauce, makes the fried taste seep into the dish and binds all the ingredients together, lending it a soft yet chewy texture. Additionally, the meat or vegetables added to the noodles will lend their taste to the overall dish. 

Is Chow Mein unhealthy?

Yes, Chow Mein is unhealthy as it is not only loaded with calories but is also high in sodium. To make it healthy, one can prepare it at home with healthy vegetable swaps and less oil and sodium. 

What is Lo Mein sauce made of?

Lo Mein sauce is made with the base of sesame oil mixed with soy sauce, sugar, fish/oyster sauce, 

How can Lo Mein sauce be prepared from scratch? 

The traditional Lo Mein sauce requires just five ingredients, while many modern variations are also available these days. The quantity of these ingredients are:

  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 4 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. sugar 

Mix all the above ingredients to prepare the delectable Lo Mein sauce. Many people also add garlic, ginger, Sriracha, oyster sauce, and a dash of water while preparing the Lo Mein sauce. 

Differentiate between Chow Mein and Lo Mein

BasisChow Mein Lo Mein
MeaningChow means ‘fried’ in the Chinese language, and Mein means ‘noodles’. Lo means ‘tossed’ in the Chinese language, and Mein means ‘noodles’. 
Cooking techniqueChow mein noodles are stir-fried at high temperature to cook the noodles. Lo mein is never stir-fried. The boiled noodles are preferably added to a handful of stir-fried vegetables/meat. 
SauceChow mein doesn't have sauce dripping in every bite. Thus, they are drier.Lo mein has a lot of sauce made from sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar. This makes them juicy.
TextureIt has a crispy texture as it is stirred at a high flame.It has a soft texture as the boiled noodles are added to the stir-fried vegetables in the end.
ShapeNoodles are either flat or rounded.Noodles are rounded. 
Vegetable and Chicken Chow Mein vs. Lo MeinIt can consist of both vegetables and chicken. Vegetarian and vegan varieties have also become common.It is also available in different varieties to suit the needs of meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans.

Comparison Chart

Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein: discover their Differences, Similarities, Pros & Cons as well as the Souce Recipe. We also will answer some of your frequently asked questions (FAQ) and find out which is healthier.

Comparison Video

Chow Mein VS Lo Mein

Which is healthier, Chow Mein or Lo Mein?

You won’t get a healthier option when choosing between Lo Mein or Chow Mein. Both Chow Mein and Lo Mein are loaded with calories and have high sodium content. Chow Mein, however, can be called a little healthier since its sodium content is lower than Lo Mein because of drier preparation.

Author & Researcher @ Difference 101 Master in Philosophy & Data Analysis, Sorbonne Université (Graduated 2011) Lived in New York City

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