Chow Mein VS Chow Fun (with detailed recipes)

Tourism has exposed the worlds natural resources and cultures. China is one country that has vastly benefited from not only tourism but also their love for entrepreneurship and aggression to live in other parts of the world.

If you love food then you must have tried the exquisite, delicious and artistic Chinese cuisine. This is because you will rarely find a city without the Chinese restaurant.

What does that mean?

The delicious Chinese food is slowly dominating the market. The Chinese meals are famous for aroma, taste appearance and flavour. This is a perfect combination for attracting any human being to your table.

It is important to note that the Chinese cuisine is rich and diverse making it hard to pick the favourites.

What is Chow Mein?

hong kong style chow mein

This is one of the most popular Chinese dishes in the world. It comprises of stir-fried egg noodles mixed with meat (shrimp, beef, chicken or pork) and selected vegetables like onions, celery and lentils among others.

You can make your Chow Mein wet or dry. The wet one uses more water to keep the noodles from sticking together while the dry type has the Mein deep fried. This makes it easy to distinguish the meat from the noodles.

Chow Fun

ho fun

This is Chinese rice noodles. From the name you get to know that it contains rice. Chow Fun is the kind of cooking where you stir-fry the rice noodles with the meat (this is mostly beef but you can also use chicken, pork and seafood) of your choice and vegetables too.

To prevent the noodles from sticking together the cooks make the fun wet.

As you can see, there is a similarity in both the Chow Mein and chow fun in that they both include stir-fried noodles.

The origin

Chow Mein is a name originating from the Taishanese word chāu mèing. These people come from a city called Taisha of the pearl river delta.


While most people believe that Chow Mein originated from America, Chow Mein is authentically Chinese based cuisine. Another controversy is, most Westerners assumed that the Chinese cuisine is sweet and sour in taste and that it contains plenty of rice.

While this is partly true, it is necessary to note that the Northern region of China’s staple food is not rice rather it is noodles.

No wonder Chow Mein has its origin in Northern China.

Chow Fun is also known as Shahe Fun. The rice noodles which make the Chow Fun recipe originated from Shahe town. This is a subdistrict of Guangzhou.

The Shahe Fun are noodles originating from the Southern Chinese cuisine and it penetrated to Southern-East nations like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.

The name is originally from the Cantonese people of China.

The distinctive characteristics


It refers to the Chinese egg noodles that contain wheat flour, egg and water. Mein has penetrated the global market where most people are using it today.

There are changes in the recipes because different people prepare it to suit their personal needs. Nevertheless, the authentic Chow Mein still exist in Hong Kong China.

They almost look like the normal spaghetti in structure. Very thin and long.


This is a Chinese noodle that contains rice.  They are flat and wide or broad. You can either find the fresh noodles in the market or the dried ones where you soak the dried ones until they are soft before frying. There are 2 common types of chow fun noodles called

Shahe Fun- these noodles feature the slippery, chewy, broad and white coloured noodles.

Mei Fun- these are noodles that are broad, thin and long.

The recipes for Chow Mein and Chow Fun

Chow Mein

You can make this stir-fried recipe using pork, beef, chicken, seafood and other vegetables.

  • Beef Chow Mein


  • Egg noodles
  • Chopped garlic and ginger
  • Slices/stripped sirloin beef
  • Pepper
  • Julienned carrots, halves of broccoli, chopped chilli
  • A tablespoon of red wine. 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Ground black pepper, a pinch of sugar and salt
  • Light and Dark soy sauce and some water
  • Oyster sauce and sesame oil


Wash the beef strips and place in a clean bowl. Marinate with the red wine, soy sauce, black pepper, salt, a little garlic and ginger paste. Set aside for about 25 minutes.

Bring some water to boil in a pot and place the egg noodles in the pan and cook until Al dente. Place the pot in cold water to cool it down then drain off the excess water.

Bring your wok to the heat source and pour the tablespoon of oil in the pan. Stir-fry the beef for about a minute and place on a clean plate as you clean your wok.

Place the tablespoon of oil in the wok and stir-fry the ginger, garlic and chilli for about a minute then add the carrots and pepper to fry for about 1-2 minutes.

Add your egg noodles to keep frying for about 2 minutes as you toss it around then add all the remaining seasonings and stir-fry for about 3 minutes.

Finally add your beef and continue to stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes as you toss it around to avoid sticking.

Serve hot.

Check out my detailed guide.

Chow Fun

This rice noodles, unlike the Chow Mein, is either served as a stir-fry or soup recipe. The common recipe of Chow Fun is the one with beef although, you can use other meats like chicken and seafood. It requires a lot of heating for it to come out perfectly.

The traditional ingredients that make the Chow Fun are beef, rice noodles, beans sprouts, spring onions, ginger and onions.

The time that the preparation takes is about 15 minutes which makes it a good choice for your quick dinner option or easy lunch choices. Since the cooking requires a lot of heating it is advisable to prepare chow fun for about 2-4 people.

  • The Beef Chow Fun


  • Pound beef
  • Soy sauce
  • Wide rice noodles
  • Oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • sugar
  • 3 onions
  • Minced garlic
  • White pepper
  • Wine(Shaoxing)
  • Oyster sauce
  • Black beans sauce and beans sprouts


Wash and cut your beef into thin slices or strips. Place in a clean bowl and add a tablespoon of wine, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, some salt and starch. Mix it evenly and set aside for the next about 20 minutes

Place the cooking oil in the wok and bring it to your heating source. Add your beef slices or strips on the wok and cook for about half a minute. Ensure it turns brown. Transfer the slices to a clean plate and drain off the extra oil remaining then clean the wok.

Pour 1 and a half tablespoon of oil into the wok then add the fun noodles as well as your shredded or sliced onions.

Add your previously made stir-fry sauce which is a combination of light and dark sauce, vegetable oil and some sugar. Remember to toss your wok in order to make sure your noodles are evenly coated.

Bring your beef slices to the wok with noodles and continue to toss while making sure it doesn’t stick to the wok. Add the beans sprouts and cook for about half a minute. Add the other vegetables you may have remaining and cook for about a minute then serve hot.

Check out my detailed guide.


The cooking process should take no more than 20 minutes.

The fresh rice noodle is readily available in some supermarkets. In other cases, you may have to use the dried ones which need soaking in order to soften.

The fresh noodles packaging makes them stick together. Before you begin the frying process, take time to separate them.

Use your chopsticks in turning the rice noodles gently, don’t use a spoon.

It is tricky to make tender and tasty beef while not breaking the noodles. You should be extra cautious to attain best results.

Nutritional facts

The amount of Chow Mein or chow fun you take matters in the determination of the nutrients consumed. 100g of chow fun that has meat and vegetable assortment has 109 calories compared with the Chow Mein which has 527 calories.

In order to make your meal healthier, you should reduce the amount of oil used and increase the vegetable content while reducing the meat.

Which one tastes best

You see, when it comes to food the tastes are different to different people at different times. This means that what is good to me might be tasteless to you.

For you to speak about the taste you must taste the meals and find out which one serves you best. In short, I think they are both perfect in taste. I love it spicy and this is how I make both Chow Mein and chow fun.


Both Chow Mein and Chow Fun are famous in Chinese restaurants. The method of cooking as you can see above is similar and the only difference being the noodles used.

If you love and are conversant with the Chinese cuisine you will be familiar with these dishes but one who is not may not easily detect the difference.

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