Mee Sum Restaurant | Amazing Chow Mein Sandwich

Review by: Michael Stern

Birth of a Sandwich

Regina Mark, who runs Mee Sum Restaurant and Lounge with her husband, Kenny, tells this story: “In New Bedford long ago, 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.” So was born Fall River’s amazing chow mein sandwich.

Unique Local Specialty

If you haven’t eaten your way along the south coast of Massachusetts, the idea of a chow mein sandwich probably sounds wrong. For people who live around here, it’s everyday eats. You’ll find it served at home, in school lunchrooms, in Chinese restaurants, and at drive-ins. Many locals don’t fully appreciate its uniqueness until they move away. Then, they realize how much they miss it.

It’s All About the Noodles

Mee Sum chow mein, a soft brown gravy laced with celery and onion (and, if you wish, meat) exemplifies the Cantonese dish. But noodles make it special. They’ve been 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. Then strew it with an abundance of those fine noodles. Finally, cap the whole thing with the bun’s top. Now you have a true Fall River chow mein sandwich.

How to Eat a Chow Mein Sandwich

Most of us need a knife and fork to eat it. But Mee Sum waitress Sue said that she has veteran chow mein sandwich eaters who get theirs wrapped and eat the whole thing. They don’t want utensils. Maybe just a pile of napkins. Sue explained that when the sandwich is securely enclosed in wax paper for even a few minutes the gravy begins to bind it together. The tight wrapper causes the chow mein noodles to steam soft. They return to a state that is something like al dente lo mein. It is mischievously delicious this way, completely different from the textural drama of the plated version. It sets a high-water mark of culturally incorrect Cantonese cuisine. Mere dilettantes, we had no luck holding it together for more than a couple of bites.

Beyond Fall River’s amazing chow mein sandwich, the kitchen also offers an egg foo yung sandwich and a chop suey sandwich. Neither is compelling. Other than curious sandwiches, the Mee Sum menu is familiar Cantonese-American fare. Note: One other Roadfood-recommended place to find a chow mein sandwich is Evelyn’s Drive-In of Tiverton, Rhode Island.

What To Eat

Chow Mein Sandwich

Chop Suey Sandwich

Egg Foo Yung Sandwich


Mee Sum Restaurant | Amazing Chow Mein Sandwich Recipes


What do you think of Mee Sum Restaurant | Amazing Chow Mein Sandwich?

2 Responses to “Mee Sum Restaurant | Amazing Chow Mein Sandwich”

charles soumas

May 1st, 2022

i had my first chow mein sandwich in fall river, possibly in your restaurant around 1987, and plan to have my second one at Mee Sum on wednesday may 4. However i had my very first chow m.ein sandwich at Nathans in coney island in a hand held bun around 1930 when i was 12 years old Loved it then, as i did in 1987. Am looking forward to enjoying my third chow mein sandwich at age 93 at Mee Sun this coming wednesday may 4.


Daniel Mackay

August 15th, 2014

My college-aged son and I visited Mee Sum Restaurant and Lounge in July, because it stood out from the other Fall River, MA Road Food entries, and we had not had Asian food of any variety recently. We arrived shortly before 7:00 PM, and the doors were locked behind us shortly after we arrived – customers for take-out orders were admitted after that, but do check the hours if you are coming from a distance and hoping for a sit-down meal.

Décor is a marvelous fusion of New England sports teams and Chinese details. A neighborhood time capsule.

I had the Egg Foo Yung sandwich, a regional highlight on the menu, and found the foo yung indistinctly seasoned and overwhelmed by the texture, taste and dryness of the bread. Should have ordered the Chow Mein sandwich instead, which appears to be a more distinct textural experience.

I’ll try any Roadfood recommendation a second time, and will make my way back to Mee Sum at some point, but other Fall River options will grab my attention first.


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