Difference Between Chow Mein and Chop Suey

Chinese cuisine is the favored cuisine globally. There is an extensive and diverse range to choose to enhance the delicacy.

The market has numerous delicious sauces, and there are innumerable recipes to make the favorite delicacy at home.

Both chow mein and chop suey are the savored dishes. They have a blend of noodles, vegetables, and meats.

Similar looks but have different origins and methods of preparation.

Chow Mein vs Chop Suey

The main difference between chow mein and chop suey is that chow mein is an authentic Chinese dish and traces its origin from Northern China and Chow mein means stir fry noodles. Chop suey traces its origin from Southern China. It is an influenced Chinese-American dish and comes from a Cantonese phrase tsap sui, meaning odds and ends.

Chow Mein vs Chop Suey

Chow mein served with stir-fried noodles gets served along with meat, cabbage, or bok choy in a sauce. The noodles are stir-fried along the other ingredients to give a moist texture.

The secret is that noodles are never fried but cooked separately and tossed along with other ingredients.

Choy Suey is unique creations personalized by individual chefs. It usually contains meat, vegetables, egg, thick sauce severed with either rice or noodles.

Rice is the most preferred combination rather than noodles. As the name rightly suggests, it is a merger of assorted broken pieces.

Comparison Table Between Chow Mein and Chop Suey

Parameters of ComparisonChow MeinChop Suey
OriginIt originated from Northern China.It originated from Southern China.
CombinationIt is made with noodles.It is served with noodles.
IngredientsIt is usually made with Soya sauce.It is usually accompanied by a thick sauce.
VarietyChow Mein is either steamed or crispy.It has protein and is served with vegetables.
DishIt is a stir fry with noodles, protein, vegetables, and sauce.Stir fry with protein, spices, meat, and rice.

What is Chow Mein?

Chow mein is stir-fried noodles served along with meat, vegetables, or tofu. There are two commonly served chow mein. It is either steamed or made in the Hong-Kong style that is crispy. 

Different places serve chow mein unique to the taste buds of the region. The East Coast of the US prefers the crispy chow mein, and the West Coast relishes on the steamed style.

The dish is among the favorite in many parts of the world. The authentic Chinese preparation has a unique western twist based on eating habits.

Cooking Method:

  • The traditional chow mein needs a variety of ingredients and the crucial being noodles. 
  • Cooking the noodles at the right temperature and time is essential. 
  • Coating with sesame oil ensures nonsticky noodles. 
  • Choosing a protein is vital, and chicken is the most popular option. Pork, shrimp, or tofu are other options.
  • Soya Sauce and the secret Five-spice Chinese powder enhance the taste. 
  • Heating the wok to a high temperature and adding the groundnut oil. Followed by the protein to cook it just right is the trick.
  • Add your favorite vegetables and stir fry. The crucial ingredient is noodles, followed by a dash of soya sauce and sesame oil.

The steamed chow mein is soft loaded with vegetables and blended with soya sauce. The crispy chow mein is slighter dry, crisp, and served with a thick brown gravy. The crispy chow mein doubles up as a delicious sandwich. 

What is Chop Suey?

Chop suey is an invention of the Chinese living in America, and there is no evidence of a dish called ‘tsa sui’ in China. Many stories lead to the creation of the delicious chop suey.

One of the stories is about a Chinese chef in a California mining camp. He put together all the available ingredients and named the dish ‘tsa sui’ means miscellaneous broken pieces in Mandarin. 

The other story is of a Chinese leader visiting the Palace Hotel in San Francisco requesting a combination of meat and vegetables in a dish. The obligation of the chef-led to the creation of the American Chinese chop suey. 

The origin of the dish has many amazing stories. But it consists of meats, vegetables, noodles, or rice cooked in a delicious sauce. Chop suey is a mishmash of different ingredients blended.

Cooking Method:

  • The sauce is a crucial part of the recipe. It could comprise vinegar, rice wine, ketchup, soya sauce, cornstarch, and water to make it. There could be other secret ingredients to enhance the taste of the sauce.
  • Heat oil in a wok, add onions, fry till medium brown. Addition of vegetables of your liking and saute lightly. Overcooked vegetables will ruin the taste of the dish.
  • Now you could mix the vegetables along with the sauce and serve over fried noodles or rice.

Chop suey is a stir-fried dish, and the versatility adds to making this dish unique and popular in each region.

Main Differences Between Chow Mein and Chop Suey

  1. Chow mein consists of noodles, meat, vegetables, and spices. Chop suey is a stir fry with vegetables, meat spices and served along with rice or noodles.
  2. The origin of chow mein is Northern China. Chop suey originated either from Southern China or Chinese American.
  3. Chow mein consists of noodles. Chop suey is served either with rice or noodles.
  4. Soya sauce is the crucial ingredient of chow mein. A thick sauce is the essence of chop suey.
  5. Chow mein is steamed or fried. Chop suey is a blend of protein, vegetables, and thick sauce.
Difference Between Chow Mein and Chop Suey


Chinese food is popular globally and has found its entry to people from different cultures and cuisine. The traditional recipes have blended into the local culture and have got a western twist. Chinatown spells the popularity of Chinese cuisine.

Finding a Chinese restaurant on a google map will never be a challenge, and your taste buds will be happy. Chow mein and chop suey are two popular dishes available on the menu.

Both look the same but are different. The place of origin, the style of making are different. Noodles or rice, soya sauce, or thick sauce are the key components to identify a chow mein to chop suey.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7Xqp1BplsSsC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=Chow+Mein+and+Chop+Suey&ots=DScX39F4dp&sig=RutUxAQbI1EsK7zCnOBBroDhw2Y
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7312/chen16892-intro/html
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