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

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 30, 2023
Chow Mein is a Chinese stir-fried noodle dish, often with vegetables and protein, while Hakka noodles are an Indo-Chinese fusion, typically spicier and with a distinct flavor profile.

Key Differences

Chow mein, a traditional Chinese dish, consists of stir-fried noodles with vegetables, sometimes meat or seafood, and is known for its slightly crispy texture. Hakka noodles, an Indo-Chinese adaptation, are stir-fried with a bolder spice mix, incorporating Indian flavor influences.
The noodles used in chow mein are typically thin, egg-based, and can be either soft or crispy depending on the cooking style. Hakka noodles use similar noodles but are often cooked to maintain a uniform texture, emphasizing the infusion of spices and flavors.
Chow mein is characterized by a lighter seasoning, often using soy sauce, oyster sauce, or sesame oil. In contrast, Hakka noodles are distinct for their use of hot and tangy spices, like Szechuan pepper or vinegar.
Originating from Northern China, chow mein has several regional variations, each with its unique twist. Hakka noodles, however, have evolved in Indian Chinese cuisine, reflecting a fusion that caters to a taste for spicier, more robust flavors.
Chow mein is a staple in Chinese cuisine, often served as a main dish, while Hakka noodles are a popular Indo-Chinese street food, frequently enjoyed as a spicy, flavorful snack or meal accompaniment.

Comparison Chart


Traditional Chinese
Indo-Chinese fusion

Noodle Type

Thin, egg-based, can be soft or crispy
Similar noodles, usually with a uniform texture


Lighter with soy sauce, oyster sauce, or sesame oil
Spicier with hot and tangy spices

Regional Variations

Multiple variations across China
Consistent style influenced by Indian flavors

Culinary Context

Main dish in Chinese cuisine
Street food or snack in Indo-Chinese cuisine

Chow Mein and Hakka Noodles Definitions

Chow Mein

The dish is known for its lighter seasoning, mainly using soy sauce.
The chow mein had a delicate flavor enhanced by soy sauce.

Hakka Noodles

The noodles used are similar to those in chow mein but emphasize texture.
The texture of the Hakka noodles was perfectly balanced.

Chow Mein

Chow mein noodles are typically thin and egg-based.
The chow mein had perfectly cooked, thin noodles.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka noodles are an Indo-Chinese fusion dish, stir-fried with spices.
We spiced up our meal with a plate of Hakka noodles.

Chow Mein

Chow mein has several regional variations in China.
Cantonese chow mein is different from the version I tried in Beijing.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka noodles typically incorporate Indian flavor influences.
The blend of Indian spices made the Hakka noodles unique.

Chow Mein

Chow mein is a stir-fried noodle dish with vegetables and optional meat.
I ordered chicken chow mein for dinner.

Hakka Noodles

They are characterized by a bolder, spicier flavor profile.
The Hakka noodles had a delightful kick from the added spices.

Chow Mein

It is a traditional Chinese dish, often served in a slightly crispy form.
The crispy chow mein is a favorite in many Chinese restaurants.

Hakka Noodles

Hakka noodles are often enjoyed as a spicy street food in India.
The street vendor made the best Hakka noodles I've ever tasted.


What is chow mein?

A Chinese stir-fried noodle dish with vegetables and optional protein.

What are Hakka noodles?

An Indo-Chinese fusion noodle dish known for its spicy flavor.

What type of noodles are used in Hakka noodles?

Similar to chow mein but usually with a uniform texture.

How are Hakka noodles seasoned?

With hot and tangy spices, reflecting Indian flavor influences.

Is chow mein a main dish or a side dish?

It's often served as a main dish in Chinese cuisine.

Are there regional variations of chow mein?

Yes, there are several variations across different regions of China.

Are Hakka noodles always spicy?

They tend to be spicier, but the spice level can be adjusted.

How are the noodles in chow mein prepared?

They are thin, egg-based, and can be soft or crispy.

What seasoning is typical in chow mein?

Light seasonings like soy sauce, oyster sauce, or sesame oil.

Do Hakka noodles have regional variations?

They are relatively consistent, influenced by Indian flavors.

Is chow mein popular worldwide?

Yes, it's a globally popular Chinese dish.

What's the culinary context of Hakka noodles?

Popular as street food or a snack in Indo-Chinese cuisine.

What gives Hakka noodles their unique taste?

The blend of Indian and Chinese spices and cooking techniques.

What vegetables are commonly used in Hakka noodles?

Bell peppers, carrots, spring onions, and cabbage are common.

Is chow mein considered healthy?

It can be, depending on the ingredients and cooking method used.

Where are Hakka noodles most commonly eaten?

They are most popular in India and among Indo-Chinese cuisine lovers.

Can chow mein be vegetarian?

Yes, it can be made vegetarian with just vegetables.

Are Hakka noodles easy to make at home?

Yes, they can be easily prepared at home with the right ingredients.

What makes chow mein crispy?

The method of stir-frying and sometimes double-cooking the noodles.

Can chow mein include seafood?

Yes, seafood like shrimp can be added to chow mein.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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