Japanese (Canadian) Chow Mein

This is a dish that I grew up with – at Grandma’s house and occasionally at home. It always felt like a real treat: (a) because it’s so yummy, (b) because we didn’t have it often, and (c) because you knew you might get some leftovers the next day in a chow mein sandwich!

Only now do I realize how wonderfully easy it is to make, and I think the main (mein) reason we didn’t have it more often is that the noodles aren’t that easy to come by. If you can’t find the Japanese mein noodles (we always used the Marufumi ones, which are still available at Sandown in Toronto – likely the other Japanese grocery stores like Sanko and J-Town too, though I haven’t checked lately), I think any other dry, fried noodles could be a good substitute. From what I’ve read, this dish was created by Japanese immigrants, trying to make Japanese-style dishes with the ingredients that were available in Canada at the time, (of course as a kid I never gave it much thought, it was just something that my grandma made). In any case, with an origin story like that, I think some leeway for substitutions is only fitting!


  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 2-3 small carrots (julienne/ thin match sticks)
  • 2 stalks celery (sliced on a bias)
  • 1/2 lb ground meat
  • 1/2 lb bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 pack of brown mein noodles
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 cup brown short grain rice
  • 1-1/3 cup water
  • Bulldog Worcestershire sauce for serving

Tools Required:

  • large pot (10L)
  • wooden spoon


  1. Using an instant pot/ rice cooker, cook rice.
  2. Gather ingredients & prepare a cutting board set up to cut onions, carrots, and celery.
  3. In a large pot, heat roughly 2 tbsp of oil. Once the oil is heated, cook the ground meat. Remove from pot.
  4. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil, add the onions, carrots and celery, and saute for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Next add 1 tbsp of shoyu to the vegetable mixture, followed by the bean sprouts, chow mein, and cooked ground meat.
  6. Gently stir the pot and cook with a lid on low heat for roughly 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes, remove lid, check to make sure that the chow mein noodles are soft (if not, leave covered for another minute or two), then season to taste.
  8. Serve over cooked rice.
  9. Enjoy! Don’t forget to pour in some Bulldog (worcestershire sauce).

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