La Choy Beef Chow Mein

I feel like I haven’t been putting my Asian-ness to good use on The Impulsive Buy. Crashing my car last month was proof that I‘m giving credence to my heritage in my day-to-day life, but I wanted to take that Eastern expertise to a food review. Luckily for me, Wal-Mart sells various ethnic cuisines of questionable authenticity and it was easy for me to pick something out that looked intriguing.

Usually, “intriguing” for me means “so ridiculously ludicrous and insulting that I bet no other site has reviewed this.” This time, however, La Choy’s Beef Chow Mein genuinely looked like a tasty meal. As soon as I opened it up, though, I soon realized that things out of cans are rarely gourmet and never fresh. The top can, which contained brown gravy with a few specks of beef, resembled a premium soup that Alpo would make for dogs. The bottom can contained blanched bean sprouts, baby corn, carrots, water chestnuts, celery, and red pepper. Almost all of the mix was soggy bean sprouts.

It suddenly occurred to me that this chow mein had absolutely no chow mein in it. Maybe I‘ve been eating too much bastardized Chinese food, but I had always thought that chow mein was basically noodles with some sort of vegetables mixed in. I went to Wikipedia to restore some semblance of sanity to the situation, but they confirmed my initial suspicions that chow mein was indeed noodles. Which begged the question: What the fuck am I eating?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t anything that I would ever order at Panda Express. After mixing the vegetables with the beef sauce and simmering it for a few minutes, I tried some and savored the taste of limp bean sprouts in a sauce that tasted like something from a can of Chunky Soup. Mmm…mmm! I also loved the fact that the small portion seen on the can has more beef than the entire contents of what they’re really selling. That’s what I like to call value for money!


Even through my disappointed sarcasm, I couldn’t help but feel bad about the purchase. Can tasty Asian food ever come out of a can? Are we doomed to be stuck in the realm of takeout food? I pondered these questions as I put my chopsticks in the sink. Even baby corn’s intrinsic awesomeness couldn’t save the rest of the pan from going into the trash.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 cup – 90 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 mg of cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 11 grams of carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 40% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin C, 4% Calcium, and 10% Iron)

Item: La Choy Beef Chow Mein
Price: $2.50
Purchased at: Wal-Mart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Comes in two separate cans so you feel like you’re actually making your own meal. Variety of vegetables theoretically make it interesting. You can add more beef or tofu to it in order to make it edible.
Cons: Vegetables have little to no texture. No chow mein in the chow mein. Can of “beef” is almost all sauce.

27 thoughts on “La Choy Beef Chow Mein

  1. You are Asian, so does this resemble anything your gramma ever made? Cause I know Chef Boyardee ravs are a very very distant cousin to what we make at Christmas. Just curious.

  2. Brenda – Thanks, Brenda. After more than a year of sex jokes and celebrity name-dropping, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t take much of anything too seriously.

    Thumper – You don’t have to whisper here, all kinds of freaks are welcome at this site.

    MintWrecker – I used to think so, too. Those were more innocent times.

    Alisha – My vomit tends to consist of beer and slim jims; this is more like the vomit of a health nut who doesn’t chew their food very thoroughly.

    Aimee – My grandma mostly made me rice porridge, rice noodles with tofu and pickled vegetables, or rice with stewed fish. If it doesn’t have rice, then my grandma has probably never even heard of it.

  3. Sad to say, this crap has been selling since the 60′s. My mom would buy the hell out of it and it sucked even then.

    Mom would expect us to go “weeee, chinese for dinner!”

    When actually we were thinking up ways of not having to eat it.

  4. First, I agree with your review about La Chow Beef Mein. Back in the 60′s, not knowing better, it was not as bad as it is now.

    But, my main comment is that I have never read a food review that used a four letter word. This is not a compliment on your writing.

    Please, children and young adults can read these reviews. Although you certainly have the right to write anything you want, but why use that disgusting word when I see you are a good writer?

  5. Wait… there’s cussing? On the Internet?!?! Now you’re going to tell me there’s people dressed up like cartoon animals and have sex with each other.

    My mom was a terrible cook so we ate a lot of Manwich, Soup Starter and the canned Asian food. I would just pick the crunchy noodles off my plate and pray from something to take the slimy celery slugs off my plate.

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