Controversial Chow Mein Sandwich

December 29th, 2016 § 1 comment

HG has mentioned in previous posts that a favorite guilty treat was the chow mein sandwich served at Nathan’s in Coney Island (or in the short lived branch near Times Square). It was simple. Traditional corn starch enhanced New York chow mein served in a small hamburger bun lined with crispy noodles. HG gave it a dash of soy sauce and managed to dispatch the messy sandwich without staining clothing. SJ recalled reading an article by the regional food mavens Jane & Michael Stern that this sandwich survives and prospers in the gritty mill town of Fall River, Massachusetts. So, the F & R clan set off to Fall River, once a great textile manufacturing center. Huge mills (now put to a variety of uses) still adorn the streets. First stop was Portugalia Market, a big, sparkling market that could be described as a Portuguese Zabar’s. Big selection of Portuguese wines (HG scored bottles of very good Pinho Verde Rose plus some Ruby Port). The group bought much Portuguese chourico, cheese, custard tarts, canned sardines, jarred tuna, figs, etc. All marveled at a semi-detatched bacala room with towering stacks of dried codfish. While the group lunched on toasted cheese and sausage sandwiches (they later went off to tour a battleship and submarine docked on the Fall River waterfront), HG and SJ were off to Mee Sum Chinese Restaurant to sample the chow mein sandwich served the same way since the 1920s. The duo sipped Pina Coladas in Tiki cups as they ate the very unusual and surprising sandwiches. The hamburger bun sandwich sat atop a generous bowl of crispy noodles (best ever) floating in a dark brown, Chinese oyster sauce based sauce laced with onions and celery. This was a knife and fork dish. Not a sandwich. HG loved it. Devoured it with gusto. SJ’s enthusiasm was more restrained. SJ posted a photo of the dish on Facebook. Comments were derogatory. Okay, HG admits that it’s a very special taste but a real regional specialty that deserves attention. In any case, Fall River is a great food town. Lesley R. picked up great little meat and vegetable pies at Sam’s bakery. There are lots of Portuguese restaurants featuring savory clam dishes and garlic laden Portuguese steak. For snacking, lots of hole in the wall Mom-and-Pop eateries feature Coneys (hot dogs) smothered in chili sauce and chopped onions. And, one can also snare slices of feta cheese pizzas. It’s a happy heartburn town.

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