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Vegetarian Chow Fun Noodles Recipe

Oodles of Vegetarian Chow Fun noodles

Mention Chow Fun noodles to anyone who grew up in Hawaii, and chances are what immediately comes to mind is the “Manapua Man”, or an Okazuya. For the latter, my pick for “best Chow Fun” goes to Matsumoto’s on Gulick, and the “keep it simple” approach to perfection at St. Louis Delicatessen on Waialae.

Chow Fun is another of those seemingly simple dishes, yet it can also be ambiguously complex, with so many interpretations, and no “local standard”. It’s easy to mess up it up by overdoing it and adding too many ingredients, where it ends up “lost”.

Recently a new member on a discussion board I frequent shared a recipe for her “Vegetarian Chow Fun”, which had me intrigued to try, since she mentioned she used to operate an Okazuya shop herself.

I’m assuming it’s called “vegetarian” due to the lack of chicken, charsiu or luncheon meat in it, which is most often what Chow Fun is prepared with here in the islands. But what had me most curious was the use of Hijiki, which I’ve never cooked with before.

So I went for it. Here’s the recipe…


Vegetarian Chow Fun Noodles
by kani-lehua
Serves 4

• 1 package dried chow fun noodles (Hula brand)
• Shiitake mushrooms (don’t forget to soak them first, julienned)
• Carrots and onions, julienned
• Green onions, chopped (for garnish)
• Broccoli and zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
• 1 can water chestnuts (the ones already sliced)
• Hijiki (dried black looking seaweed, soak in water to rehydrate)
• Oil for stir frying
• Sesame oil for drizzling when everthing is pau cooked.
• Grated ginger and garlic (according to taste)
• 2T shoyu (i guess you could sub bragg’s amino acids, but i don’t know)
• 1T vegetarian style oyster sauce (if no more, use regular)

Boil noodles until al dente. You have to keep checking on them. app. 9 minutes. rinse in cold water and drain. Cut noodles in half and set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, saute the garlic and ginger (do not burn) for app. 1-2 minutes in the oil. add the shoyu or bragg’s and oyster sauce. mix until well blended.

Stir fry all the veggies until al dente. Add the cooled noodles and heat through. Drizzle with sesame oil (don’t over do it) and then toss in the hijiki at the end.


What’s obviously the most important factor in this recipe is the type of Chow Fun noodles, as in this case is called for HULA BRAND…

Hula Brand Chow Funn, purchased recently at Tropic Fish & Vegetable Center on GOB clearance for just 50 cents a bag!

Interestingly, when uncooked and dry, these noodles appear “pasty” and delicate, but once they begin to cook in the water, they really tighten-up and become resilient. I think that has something to do with the Potassium Carbonate in it. I’d go as far saying you could make a darned tasty Fetuccini Alfredo out of this.

What’s nice about this package is that it includes 4 individual servings bundled up separately, which should come in handy for restaurant service.

Here’s the cooked Chow Fun (Funn), perfectly al dente…

So while that’s set aside, you saute all the veggies…

When these are all cooked, throw the cooked Chow Fun into the pan with it, combine and finish the dish according to the instructions in the recipe above.

I actually rushed this job, not paying particular attention to how I cut the veggies, as you can tell. As far as the quantity of veggies, it’s really up to you. For that one package of Chow Funn, I used half a Zucchini, 1 large carrot, and about 8 medium-sized Shiitake mushrooms. I also only used only about 1/3 of the can of sliced water chestnuts, as any more than that looked like it would have been too much.

I must note, sometimes the noodles may be sticky or dry from sitting, so when I added them in, I also sprinkled some water and a drizzle of extra cooking oil to “loosen” it up. That worked. I also had to readjust by adding a little more Oyster Sauce.

Speaking of Oyster sauce, that’s another key ingredient here, as that’s the main “flavorizer”. In this preparation, I used Shirakiku brand Premium Oyster Sauce, which was fantastic. Others swear by the Lee Kum Kee brand. Up to you.

I added very very little Sesame oil at the end, as the stuff can be overpowering. But what little was added gave it that “nuttyness” that helped punch out the flavor of the Shiitake mushrooms.

That first photo shows the finished dish in the pan, all done and ready to serve.

Note that I also added Beni Shoga on the right side (red stuff), which goes well with anything savory.

What does bring savoriness to the table here is of course the Shiitake mushrooms, but also the Oyster sauce, along with the way the garlic, ginger and onions are sauteed in the oil before everything goes in.

The Hijiki added a “seafood” like element to it, along with it’s crunchy texture, yet I added just enough, but not too much where it may have been overpowering. You have to be careful how much you add in.

As for the “vegetarian” part, most carnivores would be hard-pressed to find anything “not meaty” about this dish. It doesn’t miss the chicken, char siu or luncheon meat at all.

Now the devil on my right shoulder knocks on my brain and says, “Wait a minute? No meat you say? Well, let’s add some on top of it, Okazuya style!”
So I added a cooked Teriyaki Winner on top. This kine..

I swear, these are one of the BEST hot dogs on the market. I’m not really a huge Teriyaki fan, and I try not to eat too many hot dogs for health reasons, but for what it’s worth, this one has that perfect balance of savory-sweet going on, with hint of shoyu-laced depth that’s unlike any other hot dog I’ve ever had. Knowing how popular Teriyaki is in Hawaii, If Costco sold these at their concession, they’d probably move containers full of the stuff.

The devil made me do it…

I think I’ll name this one “Da’ Hana-koko-lele” Okazuya plate

Hey, this was somethin’ yum! There’s almost this “surf ‘n turf” thing going on with the combination of the Hijiki and the savory-sweet hot dog. I’d take out the Shiitake mushrooms next time though, if I’m gonna’ “carnivorize” this Chow Fun, as that, combined with the porky wiener was a little too “meaty”. Still ono though.

Back to the original recipe, this Vegetarian Chow Fun recipe, as is, turned out to be a winner. It’s relatively cheap and easy to make, and best of all, it can be served as a delicious, satisfying, nutritionally balanced, guilt-free (if you resist the hotdog!), all-in-one meal.

Mahalo kani-lehua for sharing it!


10 thoughts on “Vegetarian Chow Fun Noodles Recipe

  • April 4, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I’ve got to stop reading this blog first thing in the morning! The photos are killing me, might have to try this. Have to go check what veggies are in the fridge when I get home.

  • April 4, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Hula Brand – that’s what I bring back here to use!

  • April 5, 2008 at 9:11 am

    This recipe sounds and looks really great! Usually when I make chow fun it’s on a day that I don’t really care about eating healthier cause I add things like Portuguese sausage and/or lup cheong. I love the vegetarian version, I can eat it anytime without the guilt afterwards! :)

  • June 11, 2008 at 4:56 am

    I am a island girl who was born and raised in Honolulu and now live in Seattle. I have been craving local style chow fun like back home and I am going to make this recipe tomorrow for my Haole Boyfriend…:) So far he loves all my island food that I make from back home… The recipe looks perfect Mahalo Nui Loa…


  • August 25, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I know how you feel sista. I was born in Honolulu, first Kalihi and then Wainae. I now live in Florda and I miss all that ono food. My daughter lives on the Big Island and I have family in California. I use to go to this store after school and they sold Chow Fun in the cup for a dollar, I would save my lunch money just to get some and that’s why I was trying to find a recipe for something similar. I just asked my brother in Cali to send me some Poi.


  • March 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    OK. The real Chow Fun actually has light oil, if any. Since the noodles are already boiled, I concentrate on the ingredients. Left over cooked meat cut into strips. Pork is the best. then duck. Let the fat off the meat add the oil to a small bit of peanut oil. The Chinese love to add oil to everything. But this dish does not need it. Carrots, julienned add sweetness. Beans and sprouts add texture. Zucchini is the devils vegetable. LOL. Cook the vegies first, set aside. Warm meat and add noodles with a bit of water. No need for much flavoring. A drop of soyu and salt. White pepper. Many go crazy on oyster sauce. Too much flavor for a dish that one will spice up with black peper, shoyu, and pepper water.

  • March 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Pat, thanks for sharing! I too feel you need to be very careful on how much Oyster Sauce you add. Especially more so than Shoyu. As you pointed out, the STEPS in the preparation of a good Chow Fun are equally as important, especially for this seemingly BASIC dish.

    You know you local when you pronounce (and spell) Shoyu as “Soyu”. lol!!!

    As for Chinese style roast duck meat as a substitute for Charsiu pork in Chow Fun, sounds very interesting!

  • March 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Pomai, I never try teriyaki hotdog yet will get some . Oh boy with kimchee hotdog also I got some great stuffed to bring with me next I head to San Francisco for they do not have these wonderful food products in Calif.

  • June 22, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Thank everyone for all the ono talk. I’m making this hula chow fun brand as soon as I get home from work this evening wish me luck. I’m from nanakuli and when I was a little girl this is the brand my mom and my older sister used to make for chow funn. I’ve made chow funn before but I never used this hula brand so here we go. I’ve always used the already cooked noodles

  • June 22, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Never heard of that Teriyaki wieners definitely going to have to buy some and try it probably be really good over the fire.


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