Cindy, our friends Amy and Megan, and I met up at Coney Island today for some fun and relaxation by the water. Standing on the long, long ordering line at Nathan’s Famous, I spied a very strange food item among the hot dogs, fries, and burgers — Chicken Chow Mein, in both sandwich and bowl formats.
Up until that second, I had my heart set on a hot dog. I turned to Cindy and said,"Honey, I don’t think I can NOT order the Chicken Chow Mein."
For those that don’t know, Nathan’s Famous is a national fast food chain, and the Coney Island Nathan’s was their first restaurant with well-deserved praise for their fine grilled hot dogs and curly-cut fries. But why they would have Chicken Chow Mein on the menu is beyond comprehension.
I placed our order with much anticipation. There was some back-and-forth between the woman taking our order and one of the cooks in the back, possibly along the lines of "Can you believe someone actually order the Chow Mein Sandwich?"
Photos and commentary after the jump…
This is what the Chicken Chow Mein sandwich looks like. Notice the shiny cornstarch-y goo oozing off the end, and the crispy noodles sprinkled on top of it. It was pretty horrifying in appearance. But how would it taste?
One bite confirmed what I had suspected: it was the worst possible example of Chow Mein (which is already a horrible fake Chinese dish to start with) that I had ever tasted. It had absolutely no flavor, with bits of chicken, onion and celery floating in a tasteless,starchy gravy. It was like eating a cornstarch sandwich. I think I managed three bites.
I quickly sought solace in the excellent cheesy fries and lemonade while Cindy happily munched away on her burger.
I was left with the question: why would Nathan’s put such a yucky sandwich on their menu? My tentative conclusion after some internet research is that this is a "legacy" menu item, like the fried frogs legs, that was once a popular item on the menu that they keep available purely for nostalgic purposes. Because there is no other logical reason why they would offer such a revolting sandwich.
19 thoughts on “Nathan’s Chow Mein Sandwich? WTF?”
And if you know Rik, you know that something has to be pretty awful for him not to eat it. He really revels in trashy food goodness. Sorry I talked you into it, sweetie.
No, no, I’m very happy to have gotten it! I knew it would either be good or make a good story later!
SO SAD I MISSED IT! But I’m not sad I missed out on the Chicken Chow Mein burger. Friggin’ SICK, dude!
Us locals wouldn’t waste our money on that stuff after we tried it. I think that at the time of it’s creation in the 60’s, it was a real oddity. The one I liked was the “BBQ” sandwich. It was dredged mystery and fatty meat soaked in grease on a bun. Now that was a sandwich! Checkout my webpages for old Coney Stories.
But they DO order the fried frogs legs! I saw a batch delivered right in front of my eyes! It was like seeing the last second of a sandy Kermit diving headfirst into a paper bag! eek!
I can’t attest to the Nathan’s Famous version of this sandwich— but chow mein sandwiches are a basic dietary staple here in Fall River, MA. Every chinese restaurant in the city makes them and they are enormously popular. Personally, I don’t like chow mein, but they must be doing something right, some of the restaurants move over a hundred of them every day.
People STILL eat this stuff in Massachusetts!?!?! OMG! Someone get these people some real chinese food, fast!
They eat ’em in Providence, RI too… Used to live there and was talking about it to friends, who didn’t believe me (and who are standing right behind me). Thanks for the photo! Proof that this kind of madness does actually exist!
A local burger dive used to have chow mein burgers here (Bridgeport,Ct.Home of P.T. Barnum) Their gone so I make my own. Beats that La Choy stuff.I’m taken a ride up to Fall River to check em’ out!
What’s wrong w/ur postings? I posted the one by DL?
We love ’em in NY. Now I live in Vegas and cannot find it. Darn!
You sir have a cast iron stomach. Perhaps the CIA should be notified of Nathan’s biochemical creation. So THAT’S where the WMDs were…in USA not Iraq!!! =P
I grew up in Brooklyn and in my childhood
(many years ago) I LOVED the Chow Mein Sandwich and the Barbecue Sandwich. I am amazed that this is still available at the original Nathan’s in Coney Island. I guess you have to grow up on it to appreciate it.
I am gonna have to see if I can call someone there to try to get the recipe.
Hey Randy, I’m with you. I always would get the chow mein sandwich and the barbecue sandwich with its vibrant green relish. Last time I was was there, neither one was on the menu.
It was a Coney Island dietary staple.
I’m not sure there is a “recipe” so much as a can opener involved in preparing the chow mein.
This chow mein sandwich from Nathan’s does look reprehensible. I live in between Fall River and Providence and can definitely say most of the local places do a great job when making this local creation. Nathan’s is a cheap knock off of a great food. The noodles don’t look the same, the bread is off and where is the chicken in the picture? When done right there is no comparison to a heaping pile of chicken chow mein slopped on top of a bun.
Where can I get a chow mein sandwich? I grew up eating them in the 5 & 10’s. Chow mein from a Chinese restaurant nowadays just does not compare.
So glad I looked this up. People thought I was crazy. A chow mein sandwich. There is no such thing they said. Ha. Last night to add to my memory of Nathan’s in Coney Island I invented another sandwich. Try it. Roast Pork Egg Foo Young on a Kaiser Roll with chinese mustard and some soy sauce. Delicious. Nostalgia is great. Mimi