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Cake Noodle


Little Village Noodle House Beef Broccoli Cake Noodle

Straight out the gate as you may already know, I am by no means a Chinese food expert. That said, from what everyone I’ve discussed this with over my food blogging years tells me, Chinese “Cake Noodle” is exclusively a “Hawaii thing”.

If you were to seek out “Cake Noodle” back in Hong Kong or mainland China, the motherland, nope. Not gonna’ find it.  God-forbid you should ask for “Cake Noodle” at your favorite Chinese restaurant on the mainland, as you’ll probably get yourself a mouthful in thick Canton-English (or whatever dialect they speak) from the server or owner, basically saying “WTH are you talking about? You’ve gone absolutely mad!” Shoots, they might even kick you out for insulting them. “You go now!” lol

They might steer you towards “Fried Noodles”, but in most cases, that’s not the same.


On On Chinese Restaurant Beef Broccoli Cake Noodle

I even confirmed this with Jamie Lum, the owner of On On Chinese Restaurant Kapahulu (not to be confused with the former On On on McCully), who is originally from the Guanghzou Province in China, just northwest of Hong Kong. She concurred indeed, NOPE, they don’t have that there. She learned how to make “Cake Noodle” only after moving to Hawaii, where she discovered how popular the dish is here.

As you can see, it really is a simple concept, taking chow mein noodles and setting it up in a wok, compressing it sort of like you would a rice musubi, where it binds together into a “cake” from the inherent starch. So odd as it seems, the interior is essentially clumped-up noodles all stuck together. This, as the hot wok oil gives the exterior a crispy edge on top and bottom, while again, the noodles within remain al dente soft ‘n chewy-tender. It’s then served on a platter, usually cut into individual squares.


On On Chinese Restaurant Beef Broccoli Cake Noodle (version 2 with black mushrooms)

Depending where you go, you can order Cake Noodle either by itself as an ala carte starch dish, or as an entree, where it’s topped with various stir-fry dishes. Such as above, which is one of the most popular versions, being Beef Broccoli Cake Noodle.

These are the Cake Noodle variations you can currently find at On On Chinese Restaurant Kapahulu:

CAKE NOODLES
– Seafood Cake Noodle $11.95
– On On Cake Noodle $8.95
– Minute Chicken Cake Noodle $8.75
– Roast Chicken Cake Noodle $8.75
– Beef or Chicken with Mushroom Cake Noodle $9.50

The one I ordered with broccoli was a special request, which they didn’t charge extra for. Nice. The prices for this dish are obviously VERY REASONABLE, and really one plate like this will easily feed two people, or as part of a full course dining in there, enough for 4 to 6.

According to the intro’ for CookingHawaiianStyle.com’s recipe for Cake Noodle, is that there was a story in Midweek that claimed Cake Noodle was ironically invented by On On Chinese Restaurant, which was formerly on McCully Street. Which to note, has NO RELATION to On Chinese Restaurant on Kapahulu Avenue. At that restaurant, the original Cake Noodle was apparently made using Saimin Noodles, which have a slightly different recipe and overall mouthfeel than your typical Chinese chow mein noodles.

Cake Noodle was always my sister Keanu’s favorite dish growing up, where we ate literally almost every weekend at Kin Wah Chop Suey in Kaneohe. However, believe it or not, I HATED the stuff as a kid. Well, I actually ended up, let’s just say, “not liking” Chinese food in general, as my mom basically force-fed me Chinese food.

Speaking of Kin Wah, we can’t forget how our lovely Cantonese  waitress used to pronounce Beef Broccoli Cake Noodle: “Bee Boh Kay Noo”. LOL!

Anyhow, now that I try Cake Noodle again as a mature adult, I really really LOVE it! I think what it was, is when I was a little boy, all I liked at Kin Wah (and previously Mui Kwai) was the “Saimin” (actually it was Wonton Min), which obviously are noodles in a broth. So the whole idea of noodles being dry and fried crispy was, well, “gross” to me back then. Every time the Cake Noodle would pass my way on the lazy Susan, I was like, PASS. And my sister used to always laugh at me, saying “Good Pomai, you no like da’ Cake Noodle. More for me!” lol Yet now? Effin’ aye! Hook me up! Cake Noodle is Bomb-dot-com! That dish ain’t ever passin’ me up on the Lazy Susan table again!


Ramen Noodle Burger Matsufujiya (Shirokiya Yataimura Food Court, circa 2014)

Now that I think about it, the Ramen Burger, made popular in New York, actually is built on the Cake Noodle Concept, essentially “bun-i-fying” Cake Noodle for a burger. “Bun-i-fy”. What the hell kinda’ word is that?! lol

Case in point, the Matsufujiya Ramen Noodle Burger above and below…

Then of course, Hawaii’s spin on the Ramen Burger, the original Tanaka Saimin Burger….


Tanaka Saimin Burger, served “Tsukemen” style with dipping broth on the side and Chinese Mustard with Shoyu

Yup, that’s definitely a “Bun-i-fied” Cake Noodle, gone into rogue burger wars madness. lol

What would be interesting is to to take the ORIGINAL local Chinese style Cake Noodle and make THAT into a burger. Hah? How you figgah? Perhaps make an order of On On’s house Cake Noodle, without anything on it, then take it home and experiment with different “burger” variations, using the sliced cake noodle squares as a “bun”, slider style if you will. Experiment with “outside the box” ideas, from a Portuguese Sausage & Lup Cheong (combined with ground pork) Cake Noodle Burger, to a Rafute (Okinawan Shoyu Pork) Cake Noodle Burger. Which I actually threw out those ideas when reviewing the Tanaka Saimin Burger.

Cake Noodle. What’s your take on it?


Related link:
Crispy Gau Gee Mein (Cake Noodle Style) recipe – CookingHawaiianStyle.com
Tanaka Saimin Burger – The Tasty Island

22 thoughts on “Cake Noodle

    • October 20, 2016 at 3:39 pm
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      Dan,

      Not even close, both in flavor and execution. That’s not the same as “Cake Noodle”, which isn’t deep-fried, but “pan-fried” in a wok (not submerged in the oil). Those are simply fried chow mein noodles, which we have everywhere as well.

      Cake Noodle isn’t all loose like the one in the Yelp picture you linked. If you look more carefully, Cake Noodle, as described, is compressed into “cake” form, where the inside doesn’t get exposed to the oil, so it’s still sort of soft (more chewy) and all dente on the inside, not all crispy. Thus you get this fantastic flavor and texture contrast when biting through it.

      Reply
  • October 20, 2016 at 4:33 pm
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    Don’t  like it. Waste of time. Besides, I prefer Chow Fun with mixed vegetables and ham, char siu or Spam anyway. I like Hawaii style a bit better, but  Chinese is just fine.

    Reply
  • October 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm
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    Pomai, in San Fran. they have Hong Kong style fried noodle is what they

    call it.  But is the same only fried loose not cake like.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 10:03 am
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    @ Amy – I think what you’re referring to is the same style “fried noodle” as Dan T. did…


    E&J Yummy Kitchen @ Monterey Park, CA – Fried Noodles (mistaken for “Cake Noodle”)

    While I’m sure it’s absolutely delicious, that is NOT Cake Noodle!

    @ pat – With all due respect, why is Cake Noodle a “waste of time”? Unlike when I was a kid, quite frankly, now I think it’s simple CULINARY GENIUS!

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 11:11 am
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    Totally agree with Pomai on difference between crispy and cake noodle.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm
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    Pomai,

    Back in RI and southern MA only we had fried chow mein noodles but what is really unique to region is we loved our chow mein sandwiches in hamburger buns with brown gravy.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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    Cake Noodle is Definitely a local thing.You won’t find anything like that elsewhere.  I’ve heard people put the cake noodle and toppings with gravy in those peking duck buns. How you figgah

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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    If you like a deal then check out this hole in a wall place next to Royal Kitchen called Kents. Oyster sauce Chicken Cake noodle. Huge Serving. Enough for 2 people and Kanak Attack after. Price and portions can’t be beat.

     

     

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 4:13 pm
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    @ Dan – Mahalos for the tip on Kents Oyster Sauce Chicken Cake Noodle. Next time I hit Sing Cheong Yuen Bakery down the street, I’ll drop by there as well and try it.If they have a beef version, I’ll probably get that one instead.

    And glad that’s one more confirmation from you that Cake Noodle is indeed an exclusive dish to Hawaii. I’m willing to bet there actually are restaurants on the mainland and in China that make it, however it probably flies under the radar. And they most likely don’t call it “Cake Noodle”, but simply “Fried Noodles” as it’s called at Little Village Noodle House. Besides, you know how many Chinese restaurants are, where its like “Why have only 3 styles of stir-fry noodles when we can offer 300?”. LOL! So likely if they have their take on Cake Noodle, it simply hardly ever gets ordered. It’s not a “destination dish” like it is here in Hawaii.

    Little Village Noodle House’ Peking Duck was pretty awesome, and I’m not really a duck fan. Love that crispy skin!


    Little Village Noodle House Peking Duck Bau

    I could see adding some Cake Noodle in the bau with the Crispy Peking Duck!

    @ Ken – what kind of brown gravy did they use in those Chow Mein Noodle Sandwiches? American beef-broth style, or some Chinese roast meat style gravy? Oyster sauce-based gravy? I’m really interested in trying it!

    Which has me thinking, I bet what would taste good is to take a little square of the Cake Noodle, along with a piece of the beef and broccoli, plus that delicious gravy, and stick that in a Chinese steamed bun (bau). Next time I order the “Bee Boh’ Kay Noo” at On On, I’ll ask for a couple of Bau to go with it so I can try it out!

    @ Al Lum – Yup, very different execution between the two.

    Reply
    • October 21, 2016 at 6:29 pm
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      Pomai,
       
      Hoo-Mee Oriental Chow Mein Company factory is located on Eighth Street in Fall River, MA and is reportedly the largest supplier of chow mein noodles in United States. It was established in 1926 and created the original Authentic New England Chinese Chow Mein Mix. The chow mein sandwich was served in local Chinese restaurants, local school cafeterias and even made it into the U.S. Army cookbook. Chef Emeril Lagasse has his own version of the chow mein sandwich posted on the web. Normally when ordered as a take out the hamburger bun is filled with chow mein and wrapped in wax paper tightly so you can hold it and eat like it is a hamburger without dripping on yourself other than that it is served on a plate eatable with knife and fork. Back in the early days you could buy one of these things for a nickel, with a side of french fries. The 2006 price was $2.99 without french fries.
       
      The Hoo-Mee ingredients list on chow mein gravy mix is as follows: cornstarch, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, caramel, granulated onion, ground celery seed, pure and artificial spices.
       
      Add 1 cup of chopped onion, and 1 cup of chopped celery to 3 cups boiling water or soup stock (beef, pork, chicken, vegetable or seafood). A few bean sprouts may also be added. Cook until vegetables are tender. Dissolve 1 ounce gravy mix (1 heaping tablespoon) in 1/2 cup warm water, and add to the mixture. Pour over Hoo-Mee Chow Mein Noodles and serve immediately. Depending on your preference, chopped pork, beef, shrimp, scallops, or chicken may also be added to the gravy mix or served on top.
       
      Traditionally, chow mein can be served in two ways, strained or unstrained. Strained, the gravy is cooked with vegetables of your choosing, but the vegetables are removed or “strained” prior to serving over chow mein noodles. In the unstrained version the gravy is cooked the same way but the vegetables are left in and served over the noodles. Either option provides optimal flavor, the only difference being individual preferences.
       
      The box is yellow with blue sign with red and white letters and a lower red band. It includes chow mein noodles and gravy mix. You can purchase chow mein and gravy mix separately in bags at Famous Foods internet distributer out of Fall River, MA or through Amazon.
       
      For in depth history of Hoo-Mee Oriental Chow Mein Company and the chow mein sandwich go to newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/fall-rivers-famous-chow-mein-sandwich/
       

      Reply
      • October 22, 2016 at 7:56 am
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        Ken,

        Sun Noodle Factory, which was founded right here in Kalihi by Hideko Uki, is quickly becoming a major asian noodle supplier to the US as well, with manufacturing facilities now also in California and New Jersey. They started with making Japanese ramen noodles, then as they expanded to the mainland, now also make Chinese and Filipino style noodles, while their New Jersey plant focuses on Italian style pasta, suited for the east coast demographic. Interesting tidbit about Sun Noodle, is they were instrumental in the success of the Ramen Burger, making custom Ramen Noodle “buns” for it.

        The Hoo-Mee (who? me? not him or her? lol) gravy ingredients sounds like your typical American style brown gravy. Which I’m surprised, as I was expecting it to have something Chinese about it, like at least oyster sauce or black bean sauce. Based on the recipe you provided, suffice it would be just as well to buy a package of McCormick’s Brown Gravy mix, instead of going through all that work. Of course knowing you Ken, with your fancy-shmancy new kitchen, including every Global knife in the catalog, plus top-of-the-line appliances that double as fighter jets and rocket ships, you’re going to justify making that gravy from scratch. LOL!

        Actually, from your description of it, honestly, I’d rather use the “brown gravy” from the Chinese style Beef Broccoli on the noodles. I think I’ll stick with my plan as mentioned in the previous comment.

        I checked out your link on Fall River’s famous Chow Mein Sandwich. Interesting. Except sucks they didn’t provide a PHOTO OF THE SANDWICH. Sheesh!

        So I found one here


        Fall River’s famous Mee Sum Chow Mein Sandwich

        The thing I never get, is why so many American restaurants insist on stuffing WAY MORE than can fit within a bun. You can’t even pick that up to eat it. It’s ridiculous, really.

        Actually, now looking at the gravy, it looks like I could take a packet of Au Jus gravy mix (77 cents/2 cup serving), and simply thicken it with a cornstarch and water slurry. Easy!

        Check out this blog post on a quick trip to Providence, RI and Fall River, MA.

        Reply
        • October 23, 2016 at 4:27 am
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          I never heard of chow mein sandwich till Emeril of Foodnetwork told

          of it in New Jersey where he came from.

          Reply
  • October 22, 2016 at 3:04 pm
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    Pomai,
     
    I know all about Sun Noodle Factory. They are going to have a hard sell in die hard Italian enclaves in the New England states where there are Italian pasta making shops already established in New Haven, CT, Federal Hill Providence, RI and North End Boston, MA.
     
    If you read the newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/fall-rivers-famous-chow-mein-sandwich/ link then you would have understood why Mr. Frederick Wong made the gravy like he did.
     
    To quote: “The Fall River textile mills employed a large immigrant population, mostly from Quebec, Ireland and England. Like most Chinese immigrant cooks, Frederick Wong tailored his food to the taste of the area’s population. After 10 years in the restaurant business, he knew what appealed to local tastes: chow mein, with its soft vegetables in a brown sauce that resembled Yankee cooking.”
     
    Actually Chef Emeril Lagasse full recipe to duplicate the Fall River Chow Mein sandwich I think is as close as you can get to the fried chow mein noodles and brown gravy with just regular kitchen products and if you followed the link to Famous Foods distributer, you would have found all the photos of packaging and gravy which you could click on and read package text.
     
    They were talking about the chow mein noodles and they included a photo of the box! If you Googled “Fall River Chow Mein Sandwich” and clicked on images, hundreds of photos would have appeared.
     
    Back then the sandwich cost a whole nickel and it came with a side of french fries and now it comes with no fries so they want you to think you’re getting your nickel’s worth of food! If I ordered a single order of chow mein I’d probably get the same amount as what is on the sandwich plate as most restaurant cooks only know how much to cook for a single plate serving. They do the same thing here in Hawaii with plate lunch. In most cases you get two or three meals out of a single plate lunch!
     
    I looked at the blog about a quick trip to Providence, RI and Fall River, MA. Very nice! Most of the Providence, RI City beauty can be traced directly to my father, State of Rhode Island Historic Preservation Officer and his demands to protect the architecture of the old buildings and blend in new building but protect the plains of view and open park spaces plus removal of the bridge and reopen up the river walk through the city. I have to credit the old mayor for understanding what he was talking about and expanding it into an Italian renaissance theme by importing Italian gondolas to ply the waterways in summer and artistic “Water Fire” where certain weekend nights the river is filled with floating wooden fires and there is artistic background music. I lived in Providence till I got married and moved north to Woonsocket a French-Canadian City, quaint, laid back and very country like with open green spaces.
     
     All the comments on the blog are true about Fall River which has the largest Portuguese population and amount of Portuguese restaurants.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2016 at 5:44 am
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    ‘ey, Pomai:  Great article on one of my fave dishes. I have attempted to make it at home a couple of times with less than excellent results (tho the failures were ono!)  There’s a burger chain here on the East Coast called red Robin that has been featuring a ramen burger for the last few months, I’ve had it a couple of times and it is very good.  What surprised me was how dense the ramen bun was, though it shouldn’t have, I guess, since cake noodle isn’t exactly light and fluffy. Anyways, gonna keep trying to replicate cake noodlke at home… maybe ramen noodles are the way to go.  Keep grindin’!

    Reply
    • October 27, 2016 at 9:26 am
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      Keith,

      Likely the ramen noodle “buns” Red Robin is using are sourced from Sun Noodle’s mainland factories (California and/or New Jersey). And you’re right, Nama (fresh, not dried) Ramen noodles are probably the best way to go for making your own cake noodle. Perhaps the chow mein noodles you have available in Alabama are too “stiff”, without enough gluten in them to hold together.

      Oh, and please confirm whether or not you can find “Cake Noodle” at the Chinese restaurants in Alabama. I know Lo Mein is a popular Chinese noodle in the central and southern states, as I had a friend from Nebraska who asked about Lo Mein here, to which I was like, “what’s Lo Mein?”.

      Reply
      • November 7, 2016 at 9:19 am
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        Pomai:  So far, no Chinese restaurant in the area has cake noodle. And I have looked.  They don’t seem to have chow fun either. They have something called “Mai Fun” which is like angel hair pasta; like unseasoned Hong Kong noodles.  Lo Mein out here on the South is basically a shoyu-based sauced stir fry (carrots, celery, onions, etc) with regular Chinese noodles. Just Google image lo mein and what you’ll see is pretty much what we get out here. The “lo mein” at Panda Express (a chain) is drier, more like Hong Kong noodles in size and consistency.  We have a Hawaiian club here in Huntsville (Da Kine in Rocket City on Facebook) and we have quarterly pot luck events with local kau kau. So far I’m the only one to try making cake noodles (appearance/presentation: D / taste: B) (But I made plenny and was all gone!

        Reply
  • October 27, 2016 at 12:01 pm
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    For those who love Peking duck when in Vegas try Tao at the Venetian.  Their version is my favorite because they serve 100% crispy skin, no fat or meat and the meat on the side.  They also use the tin crepe like tortias.  Pricey though about 80$ per duck but for us it’s always a must stop.

    Reply
    • October 29, 2016 at 7:07 am
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      Al,

      Wow, a Peking Duck that’s ALL CRISPY SKIN, with meat removed and served on the side? That’s pretty hard core! That must have been some “very deep-pocketed” customers original request, and it became such a hit, so they made it a featured item. In fact, there’s an idea! “Peking Duck Skin Jerky”. Hah? How you figgah? Sound gooood, eh?! ;-)

      Reply
  • November 7, 2016 at 9:27 am
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    Here’s the link to Da Kine in Rocket City:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/dakinerocketcity/2051138358246443/?notif_t=group_activity&notif_id=1478143217178835  Got pix of our last pot luck (bummer for me as I was out of town that day!)

    Oh yeah, we got a Hawaiian food truck (Local J’s)   https://www.facebook.com/localjs/

    And then there’s this recipe for kim chee fried rice omelet roll:

    https://www.facebook.com/cookatTV/videos/1208682535860919/

    Reply
  • November 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm
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    Keith-San,

    Ah, none in Alabama, too, huh? See, that’s further proof “Cake Noodle” is a Hawaii thing.  I only heard about Lo Mein when a friend from Nebraska visited a while back, and was asking for it, I was like “Lo Mein? What’s that?” He said that’s the most popular style of noodle in Chinese restaurants up out there in ‘Braska.

    We have lots of Panda Express locations here on Oahu, and IIRC, the noodles at the ones here are Hong Kong Style Chow Mein and Chow Funn. Not any of the ones you mention that I can recall. I guess like any other chain, Panda Express has certain dishes exclusive to what region they’re in. It’d be neat if the Panda Express locations here served Cake Noodle!

    I checked out the Da Kine in Rocket City group’s FB page. Can’t see anything as a non-member, so I requested to join. Hopefully they’ll approve me.

    Also checked out your link to Local J’s and went over the menu. Looks like they limit it to just 5 or six main dishes that don’t change much. I didn’t see Beef Stew, Tripe Stew, Oxtail Stew, Beef Tomato, Chop Steak, Hamburger Steak, Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs, Pork Adobo, and quite a few other local plate lunch favorites on there, which they should consider into the rotation.

    How’s their Kalua Pig and Mac Salad? She go?

    I’m also curious how their Manapua tastes. Do they make that themselves? Interestingly, I seen “Manapua” sold frozen in Safeway under their own brand, which looked like a nationally-distributed product. It looked exactly like Manapua, including the description, except of course wasn’t named that, but called “Charsiu Bao”, which really is what it is.

    Reply
    • November 7, 2016 at 2:44 pm
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      Keith-San,

      I’ve been approved as a member in Da Kine in Rocket City FB club by Angie. Yay! Checked out the potluck grindz. Looks ono!  I’ll go more through Da Kine in Rocket City’s photos and discussions and see if I can contribute something of value there.

      Oh, that Kim Chee Fried Rice Omelet recipe you linked is genius! I never would have thought of turning Kim Chee Fried Rice into Maki Sushi, then wrapping it in an omelet. Plus they add Mozzarella cheese in the center? Brilliant! I’m so gonna’ try make that!

      Reply

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