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Chow Mein vs. Hakka Noodles — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 30, 2023
Chow Mein is a Chinese dish featuring stir-fried noodles, while Hakka Noodles, also Chinese, are often stir-fried with a variety of vegetables and proteins. Chow Mein’s roots are in Northern China, and Hakka Noodles originate from the Hakka people.
Chow Mein vs. Hakka Noodles — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Chow Mein and Hakka Noodles


Key Differences

Chow Mein is a well-known Chinese noodle dish characterized by its use of stir-fried noodles, and Hakka Noodles is another beloved dish from Chinese cuisine, typically prepared by stir-frying with an assortment of vegetables and proteins.
Chow Mein often features crispy noodles, a result of the noodles being fried until they have a crunchy texture, and Hakka Noodles, in contrast, are usually soft and have more of a smooth texture due to being boiled and then tossed in oil to prevent sticking.
Chow Mein’s flavors and preparation can vary by region, but it typically has a savory and sometimes spicy profile. Hakka Noodles can be quite versatile in flavor as well, offering a balance of umami, spicy, and savory notes depending on the ingredients used.
Chow Mein is a dish that originated from the northern parts of China, showcasing the culinary traditions of that area. Conversely, Hakka Noodles represent the cooking traditions of the Hakka people, a distinct ethnic group in China.

Comparison Chart


Northern China
Hakka People of China


Often Crispy
Soft and Smooth

Cooking Method

Boiled and then Stir-Fried

Flavor Profile

Savory, Sometimes Spicy
Balanced, Umami, Savory, Can be Spicy

Noodle Type

Usually Wheat Noodles
Typically Rice Noodles

Compare with Definitions

Chow Mein

Chow Mein usually originates from Northern China and can vary in flavor and texture based on the region.
The local Chinese restaurant offers a regional variant of beef Chow Mein.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka Noodles usually features a balanced flavor, combining umami, savory, and sometimes spicy elements.
The chef's special Hakka Noodles has a harmonious blend of spices and sauces.

Chow Mein

Chow Mein can either be served with the noodles soft or fried to a crisp texture.
I chose the crispy Chow Mein as I love the contrasting textures with the sauce.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka Noodles typically utilize rice noodles and are associated with the culinary traditions of the Hakka people.
Being a fan of rice noodles, I always opt for Hakka Noodles at Chinese eateries.

Chow Mein

Chow Mein is a Chinese noodle dish featuring stir-fried, often crispy, noodles.
For dinner, I ordered a spicy pork Chow Mein.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka Noodles is a Chinese dish made by stir-frying boiled noodles with various ingredients.
Hakka Noodles with shrimp is my go-to Chinese dish.

Chow Mein

Chow Mein often has a savory and sometimes spicy flavor profile.
I prefer my Chow Mein with a dash of hot sauce for an extra kick.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka Noodles are usually soft and have a smooth texture, contrasted by the crispiness of the stir-fried vegetables.
The softness of the Hakka Noodles complements the crunchy vegetables perfectly.

Chow Mein

Chow Mein is typically made with wheat noodles and can include a variety of toppings.
Vegetable Chow Mein is a great vegetarian option at most Chinese restaurants.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka Noodles often incorporate a variety of vegetables and proteins, making it a versatile dish.
Vegetable Hakka Noodles is a flavorful option for those preferring meatless dishes.

Common Curiosities

What is Chow Mein?

It is a Chinese dish made with stir-fried noodles, often crispy, with vegetables and proteins.

What are Hakka Noodles?

They are stir-fried noodles associated with the Hakka people, usually soft and mixed with vegetables and proteins.

Are Chow Mein noodles usually crispy or soft?

They can be either but are often served crispy.

Are Hakka Noodles versatile in terms of flavor?

Yes, Hakka Noodles are quite versatile and can be adjusted to suit different flavor preferences.

What noodles are used in Chow Mein?

Usually, wheat noodles are used in Chow Mein.

Is Chow Mein a vegetarian dish?

It can be made vegetarian by omitting meat and using vegetable toppings.

Can Hakka Noodles be prepared vegetarian?

Absolutely, Hakka Noodles can be made with just vegetables.

Are there regional variations of Chow Mein?

Yes, Chow Mein can vary significantly in flavor, texture, and ingredients based on the region.

What is the texture of Hakka Noodles like?

Hakka Noodles usually have a soft and smooth texture.

Where does Chow Mein originate from?

It originates from Northern China.

Can Chow Mein be spicy?

Yes, Chow Mein can be spicy depending on regional variations and personal preference.

What type of noodles are used in Hakka Noodles?

Typically, rice noodles are used in Hakka Noodles.

What is the flavor profile of Hakka Noodles like?

Hakka Noodles typically have a balanced, umami, and savory flavor, and can also be spicy.

Where do Hakka Noodles come from?

They are associated with the culinary traditions of the Hakka people in China.

Is there a difference in cooking methods between Chow Mein and Hakka Noodles?

Yes, Chow Mein is often stir-fried to a crisp, whereas Hakka Noodles are boiled and then stir-fried.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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