Are you a fan of dry or stir-fried noodles like us? You can find many delicious stir-fried noodles all across Asia whether it is Pad Thai, Lo Mein, chow mein, yakisoba, japchae or even ram-den (from the famous parasite movie). Having lived in China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore, we will be drilling into the difference between Pad Thai vs Lo Mein. Previously we have other noodle posts as well: Pad Thai vs Pad Kee Mao and also Pad Kee Mao vs Pad See Ew: similarities and differences. So tag along and know more about your favourite noodles.
Difference between Pad Thai and Lo Mein origin
As the name suggest, Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish from Thailand (Pad means stir-fry in Thai). Pad Thai is a common dish you would find in Thai restaurant around the world. In Thailand, Pad Thai are commonly sold by street side vendors as an affordable staple food. However, at the same time, you may also find fancier Pad Thai in restaurants like those served with large river prawns or Pad Thai nicely wrapped in egg.
Lo Mein, on the other hand, is a dry noodle dish from the Chinese cuisine. The word Lo means toss or mix while mein (or mien) generally refers to noodles in Chinese. Interestingly, Lo Mein may or may not be stir-fried. For example, one way to make Lo Mein is to boil all the ingredients before tossing them together with sauces. You can also boil the noodles and stir-fry them with ingredients together with the sauces.
Pad Thai vs Lo Mein: taste and texture
The most striking difference between Pad Thai vs Lo Mein is the taste and texture.
Pad Thai is a stir fried dish with a complex taste made up of sweet and savoury tastes, a bit of creaminess/nutty-taste from egg and peanut. The dish has your usual stir-fried noodles texture. However, you will feel a lot of texture variations from other ingredients like peanuts and fresh/raw vegetables like beansprout, raw-green mangoes or even banana blossom.
Lo Mein, on the other hand, has a nice but simpler flavour mostly consisting of salty, savoury taste derived from soy sauce. There are many variations of Lo Mein. Some versions of Lo Mein also draw fragrance from sesame oil, while some other use scallions / scallion oil.
Pad Thai vs Lo Mein: ingredients
Both Pad Thai and Lo Mein have a good degree of flexibility in recipes. So there are many variations of both dishes. However, key differences in common ingredients include:
Pad Thai make use of “chan” noodles, a special noodle originated from Chantaburi province in Thailand which is made from rice flour. Meanwhile, Lo Mein use wheat flour. Many noodles used to make Lo Mein also contain egg, hence they are slightly yellow in color.
Pad Thai makes use of palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and peanut to give that sweet and savoury flavour. On the other hand, Lo Mein primarily use soy sauce/dark soy sauce, while some variation also add in oyster sauce, sesame or scallion oil.
Most Pad Thai will have tofu and eggs as ingredients, and the most classic version will come with shrimp. There are Pad Thai with chicken or pork as well but they are a lot less common. Based on what we have seen, Lo Mein has a lot more flexibility when it comes to the protein source.
4. Raw vegetables
Pad Thai is usually served with raw vegetables on the side. Common vegetables include bean sprout, chives, raw mango and banana blossom. Lo Mein are usually not accompanied by raw vegetables.
Which noodle should you try?
If you have not try both, try all! They are quite different in taste and texture, so decide which one is your favorite after you eat both. Try Pad Thai when you are in Thailand, whereas Lo Mein is more or less the same in any Chinese restaurant in or outside Thailand.
Personally we prefer Lo Mein to Pad Thai because of the taste. Pad Thai tends to be a bit sweet, whereas Lo Mein is on the savory side. If you have sweet tooth and peanuts, most likely you will enjoy Pad Thai!
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