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 to “La Choy Beef Chow Mein”

  1. While editing the photo I noticed there seemed to be a dent in the can. I hope you talked to the Wal-Mart manager and asked for a discount on the can.

  2. I haven’t had this stuff since I was a kid (about a million years ago). I can’t believe they still sell it. It is just nasty stuff and you were generous with your rating. If I recall correctly, you’re supposed to buy a bag of dried chow mein noodles to go along with it. They are unpleasant as well.

  3. Gosh. Canned chinese food from an American company. Why not just stick a chopstick (I’m well aware of the pun) up your fingers? It’s far more plesant. If you’re gonna go canned Asian, just buy from an Asian store. It’s cheaper, tastier, and dent-free!

    On a side note…this shit looks nastier than the bull penis i had the pleasure of eating about a week and a half ago. Pure beefiness good. Again, I’m well aware of the crappy pun I just made.

  4. Oh, and my suggestion for canned asian? Try springing for a pricey can of fried gluten. It’ll run you about a buck to buck fifty regular, it’s oilier than holy hell, and tasty.

  5. Yeah, you’re supposed to buy the “chow mein” noodles separately… And I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a can of this stuff that wasn’t dented… I think the can itself is rebelling against what is inside.

  6. Hmmm, now I now what to avoid buying in the canned food section when I have a craving for oriental food. I have made stir-fry using the frozen premade kits that they sell, and those turn out pretty good, usually.

  7. Well, in all fairness, the can doesn’t claim its contents are authentic, but rather “inspired by traditional asian cuisine.” A little worrisome in that the most specific it could get about the type of cuisine it was inspired by is simply the largest continent on the planet.

    It does look super gross (but I approve of the veggies – they’re lacking in too many foods). The fact that you need to buy and prepare noodles distracts from the beauty of the canned meal.

  8. oddly, this product review brings back many memories… as i child, my family had little money and would often eat casseroles made with whatever was in the refrigerator… occasionally we would have “chinese” which was la-choy… for many years in my own frame of reference this was “chinese food!”

  9. yikes! but this has potential maybe you were supposed to add your own noodles to it. did you read the label?

  10. Friends don’t let friends eat canned Asian-inspired food, I guess. You took a hit for the team (Team Asia?) on this one.

  11. I gotta be honest. It seems like you and Marvo haven’t found a product that you are genuinely happy with in a long time. All these depressing reviews are making me less likely to read the blog, and frankly, I’m starting to believe that the RSS feed that I keep on my Firefox toolbar is becoming a waste of space……

    Review some good products that will get me excited to try them for the love of God, Allah, etc!!!

  12. @edman0037 – I got excited about a sexy bottle of hand wash. I almost made a sex tape with it. Okay, I admit. That’s lame. Well I hope we review products that don’t depress you (and us).

  13. even the not so good reviews are great because they help us stay away from purchases that might otherwise be made in a moment of madness. I just appreciate the fantastic humor you both use.. men after my own heart! Besides, the Fizzy Lizzie review was not a negative! I am looking for that stuff in my area.

  14. Marvo – You can do that?!

    Mike – I’m not sure, but if they do, I might have to start kicking cans to support myself when I’m broke.

    MCW – I don’t recall reading that, but I don’t think this stuff would even be good with chow mein. Plus…there is no chow mein pictured in the photo!

    Reprobate – Can’t say that I’ve ever had bull penis before, but I’ve had my share of oddities while I was in Vietnam last summer. All of which tasted better than La Choy.

    Nevis – Thank you for the oddly humiliating compliment! This is the life I chose.

    Spiny – I don’t think noodles would have made this taste any better. It would just make it more filling.

    Chuck – I’ve been meaning to try those until I realize that I’m paying like $4.99 for water chestnuts and a few seasoning packets. I’ll probably try one when it’s on sale.

  15. SheRa – It does have a certain annelid-like charm, doesn’t it?

    MIster Scott – Likewise, I thought all Italians ate Chef Boyardee until I went to junior high.

    liz – No, I’m not bound by things like labels and instructions.

    Brenda – I’d like to think that my review team extends beyond just Team Asia. I review universally repulsive products.

    edman0037 – I gave 8/10 to my 2 previous reviews, I’m pretty sure I don’t hate everything.

    bikerbabeee – Hells yeah, me and Marvo are as positive as charged ions!

  16. Oh! I totally didn’t realize that this was an Ace production! You should post more, Ace! (And *you* too should post more, Marvo!)

    I don’t think the recent reviews are at all depressing, boring, whatever reviews of things I’ll never buy. I think they’re fun to read–and it’s not likely that I’ll be buying and consuming things like canned Asian food or Mac’n’Cheese crackers anyway. If I want hard-hitting reviews of things I’m likely to buy, I’ll go buy a copy of Consumer Review.

    Keep up the good work, boys!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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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