8 Difference between Chow Mein and Lo Mein with example

What is the difference between chow mein and lo mein? The major difference between chow mein and lo mein is how the noodles are prepared for the stir-fry. Egg noodles made from wheat are used in both chow mein and lo mein. Lo mein noodles are boiled to softness, whereas the more traditional chow mein noodles are fried to crispness. The nutritional value of chow mein and lo mein noodles is comparable, but whether a dish made with them is nutritious depends on the other items added to a stir fry.

Chow Mein vs Lo Mein

What Is Chow Mein?

Chinese noodles called chow mein are prepared using a special recipe and method. Because of the dish’s great nutritional value, it is very popular.

The name chow mein comes from the Chinese language and means “stir-fried noodles.” The process for making the noodles is fairly quick and easy.

Before being stir-fried, the noodles are first soaked in boiling water to make chow mein. The method that aids in fully cooking the noodles is stir-frying.

There is no sauce on the cooked noodles. So, they usually consist of dry noodles. Typically, they are fried in a hot Chinese wok.

Chow Mein Ingredients

Chow Mein is often a stir-fried dish served in the United States that includes noodles, meat (commonly chicken, pork, or beef), onions, and celery.

Shrimp or tofu can occasionally be used in place of meat, and vegetarian or vegan Chow Mein is becoming more and more common these days.

Onions and celery are typically included in crispy chow mein, unless it is served “strained” without any vegetables. In addition to carrots, cabbage, and mung bean sprouts, steamed Chow Mein is frequently served with a variety of vegetables, such as onions, celery, and carrots.

The East Coast and West Coast of the US have different regional definitions of “Chow Mein.”

On the West Coast, “Chow Mein” is always steamed and the crispy style is known to as “Hong Kong-style,” however on the East Coast, “Chow Mein” is always crispy or “Hong Kong-style.”

What Is Lo Mein?

Although it is a Chinese noodle dish, Lo Mein is different from Chow Mein. The word “Lo” is Cantonese in origin and loosely translates as “stirred noodles.”

The dish is known as lāo miàn in Mandarin, and it is popular in China. The noodles used in this dish are thin and typically made of egg, which gives them a more elastic quality.

The noodles are often boiled before being combined with sauce, meat, and veggies.

In addition to vegetables, lo mein commonly includes some form of meat or seafood, most frequently beef, chicken, pig, shrimp, or wontons, however vegetarian versions are also popular and the dish is frequently consumed with only veggies.

The soup is typically served separately from the noodles and other ingredients in a dish called lo mein, which is a dry variety of noodle soup.

Lo Mein Ingredients

Lo Mein is a common takeout dish in the US and is occasionally confused with Chow Mein.

Traditional Cantonese Lo Mein and Cantonese Chow Mein variants like crispy Chow Mein are distinct from American-Chinese Lo Mein.

American-style lo mein noodles are typically stir-fried with soy sauce, other seasonings, and various vegetables and meats, such as roast pork, beef, or chicken, along with cabbage and bok choy.

Lo Mein comes in many different forms, including shrimp, lobster, vegetable, and “House” lo mein, which is made with a variety of meats. A thin sauce is swirled into Cantonese lo mein, which is then served with wontons or beef brisket on top.

Lo Mein noodles are typically boiled until they are slightly softer or al dente.

The noodles are then set aside while the other ingredients simmer, and they are added at the very end and combined with the sauce and other ingredients by being tossed and stirred.

Comparison Table (Chow Mein vs Lo Mein)

PropertiesChow MeinLo Mein
DefinitionBefore the noodles are cooked in a stir-fry, they are soaked in hot water.The noodles are fully cooked before being combined with the meat, vegetables, and sauce.
Literal MeaningStir-fried noodlesTossed noodles
Alternative NameChao MianLo Mian
Noodle ShapeEither flat or roundRound
AppearanceDry noodle dishSauce noodle dish
Origin of the namesChinese languageCantonese dialect
TypesChicken chow meinShrimp chow meinPork chow meinSoy chow meinPanda express chow meinVegetable lo mein

The Difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein

  • Intro: Chow mein comes from the Chinese word chao mian, while lo mein comes from the Cantonese word lo mian.
  • Texture: While lo mein noodles are soft, chow mein noodles are crispy.
  • Literal Meaning: Chow mein are noodles that are stir-fried, while lo mein are noodles that are tossed.


The main difference between chow mein and lo mein is that chow mein is a crispy, crunchy noodle and lo mein is sauce-soaked noodles. Both are good for you and found in traditional Chinese foods.