Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

Mee Sum Restaurant and Lounge

1819 S. Main St., Fall River, MA - (508) 678-9869
Posted By Michael Stern on 3/23/2013 9:21:00 AM
Regina Mark, who runs Mee Sum Restaurant and Lounge with her husband, Kenny, believes the chow mein sandwich was invented in New Bedford, "long ago, when a customer came in and ordered chow mein to take home. But he wasn't feeling too well, so he asked for bread to go with it. The chef had no bread, so he gave the customer some hamburger buns. The customer returned the next day, feeling well, and happy to say that the buns and the chow mein had made an excellent sandwich."

If you haven't eaten your way along the south coast of Massachusetts, the idea of a chow mein sandwich probably sounds wrong. For locals, it's everyday eats, a dish traditionally served at home, in school lunchrooms, in Chinese restaurants, and at drive-ins – the sort of common food citizens take for granted until they move away and realize how much they miss it.

Mee Sum chow mein, a soft brown gravy laced with celery and onion (and, if you wish, meat) is just fine, but it's the noodles that make the dish a must-eat regional food. Made since 1926 by Fall River's Oriental Chow Mein company, they are thin, crisp, and more addictive than peanuts or potato chips. Ladle chow mein atop the bottom half of a burger bun, strew it with an abundance of those fine noodles, then, then cap the whole thing with the bun's top and you have a chow mein sandwich.

For most of us, it is knife-and-fork fare. But Mee Sum waitress Sue told us that she has veteran chow mein sandwich eaters who get theirs wrapped and eat the whole thing without benefit of utensils, maybe with only a couple of napkins. Sue explained to us that when the sandwich is securely enclosed in wax paper for even a few minutes the gravy begins to bind it together and the tight wrapper causes the chow mein noodles to steam soft, returning to a state that is something like al dente lo mein. We tried it this way, and it was mischievously delicious, a high-water mark of culturally incorrect Cantonese cuisine – and completely different from the textural drama of the plated version. Mere dilettantes, we had no luck holding it together for more than a couple of bites.

Beyond curious sandwiches, the Mee Sum menu is classic Cantonese American fare, including powerhouse Polynesian potations served in novelty mugs.

4 out of 4 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

Scorecard

3 - Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Chow Mein Sandwich
Dr. Ming
Egg Foo Yung Sandwich
Chop Suey Sandwich
Rate this place

Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The chow mein sandwich, unique to the South Coast of Massachusetts (and, oddly enough, to Nathan's of Coney Island), is at its best at Mee Sum, where crisp, delicious noodles make all the difference.
"The chow mein sandwich, unique to the South Coast of Massachusetts (and, oddly enough, to Nathan's of Coney Island), is at its best at Mee Sum, where crisp, delicious noodles make all the difference."
Michael Stern





Vaguely similar to the St. Paul of St. Louis, Mee Sum's egg foo yung sandwich differs from the Gateway City's signature dish primarily in the nature of the egg foo yung itself. The cheese-topped, vegetable laced fried eggs fairly ooze oil, which thick slices of toasted bread tend to sop up. While it lacks the exquisite balance of the chow mein sandwich, this concoction has a wicked épater-le-bourgeois appeal.
"Vaguely similar to the St. Paul of St. Louis, Mee Sum's egg foo yung sandwich differs from the Gateway City's signature dish primarily in the nature of the egg foo yung itself. The cheese-topped, vegetable laced fried eggs fairly ooze oil, which thick slices of toasted bread tend to sop up. While it lacks the exquisite balance of the chow mein sandwich, this concoction has a wicked épater-le-bourgeois appeal."
Michael Stern


It's hard to say if the potency of the 'Dr. Ming' drink comes from rum or chloroform or the power of suggestion, but we are inclined to believe the menu's promise that it will 'spin you to the isle of Tahiti.'
"It's hard to say if the potency of the 'Dr. Ming' drink comes from rum or chloroform or the power of suggestion, but we are inclined to believe the menu's promise that it will 'spin you to the isle of Tahiti.'"
Michael Stern


Mee Sum will, on request, serve its chow mein sandwich wrapped in wax paper. Once settled in the paper a while, the cornstarch binds it together; the noodles steam soft; and an experienced chow mein sandwich aficionado actually can eat it out of hand. We were told that celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse asked for his this way when he visited Mee Sum. (Fall River is Emeril's home town.)
"Mee Sum will, on request, serve its chow mein sandwich wrapped in wax paper. Once settled in the paper a while, the cornstarch binds it together; the noodles steam soft; and an experienced chow mein sandwich aficionado actually can eat it out of hand. We were told that celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse asked for his this way when he visited Mee Sum. (Fall River is Emeril's home town.)"
Michael Stern


If you visit Mee Sum, we hope your server is Sue. This woman is a force of nature who knows all about chow mein sandwiches and pretty much everything else in the world of Fall River cuisine.
"If you visit Mee Sum, we hope your server is Sue. This woman is a force of nature who knows all about chow mein sandwiches and pretty much everything else in the world of Fall River cuisine."
Michael Stern


Chinese restaurants generally fall outside the purview of Roadfood because their food tends not to be regionally specific; but the Chinese-American chow mein sandwich is unique to the South Coast of Massachusetts, and this otherwise stereotypical Cantonese eatery is a great place to have one.
"Chinese restaurants generally fall outside the purview of Roadfood because their food tends not to be regionally specific; but the Chinese-American chow mein sandwich is unique to the South Coast of Massachusetts, and this otherwise stereotypical Cantonese eatery is a great place to have one."
Michael Stern



What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com