Hibachi Noodles vs Lo Mein: Two Asian Staples Compared

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Let’s agree on one thing! You cannot ignore noodles when discussing east Asian cuisine.

And when you move to countries like Japan, China, and Korea, noodle dishes are a major part of their culture and cuisine in myriad different forms. 

However, for someone who knows noodles for just “noodles,” these variations across each country can be almost bemusing.

And guess what? Hibachi noodles and lo mein stand as no exception. 

While both are essentially noodle dishes, they are classified into two different varieties for myriad different reasons that I shall discuss in this article. 

Hibachi Noodles vs Lo Mein- Two Asian Staples Compared

For starters, hibachi noodles is a Japanese stir-fried dish served with veggies, chicken, or steak as a side dish in traditional steakhouses, and lo mein is a Chinese dish in which the noodles are mixed with pre-stir-fried vegetables and sauce.

Now that we have the basics straight let’s delve deeper and learn more about these unique dishes. 

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What are hibachi noodles?

Hibachi noodles is a Japanese noodle dish cooked in a wok on a hibachi grill or simply on a griddle on high heat.

As per the common conception, “hibachi” is not a particular type of noodles but a way of cooking featuring a special charcoal grill

The noodles used in the recipe are often the soba type. This explains why hibachi noodles can also be called yakisoba.

However, you can also use udon noodles as they conveniently substitute soba noodles.

And If someone is preparing at home but doesn’t have either, instant noodles can also be an option.

The noodles are stir-fried with different seasonings- soy sauce being a popular choice. They are then served as siding with vegetables or steak. 

Some chefs like to mix up certain flavorful vegetables, such as spring onions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms, with the noodles while stir-frying.

However, that’s optional in the traditional recipe and really comes down to the preference of the individual cooking it. 

The noodles are usually served hot off the grill as the dish tastes better that way.

Although you can also serve hibachi noodles cold, it can make their already chewy texture even chewier, making the dish not so likable for someone who isn’t necessarily a noodle enthusiast. 

Some Japanese restaurants also serve them as an appetizer before moving to the main course.

If you’re a home cook with midnight cravings for an easy and delicious appetite killer, hibachi noodles could become your new favorite. 

And guess what? You don’t necessarily need a hibachi grill or griddle to make the dish. A simple wok with a good stove will just do the trick! 

Want to make your own hibachi noodles? I have an amazing Teppanyaki Hibachi Beef Steak Noodles recipe here for you

What is lo mein?

Lo mein refers to tossed or mixed noodles in China. It’s a popular Chinese dish with egg noodles, protein, vegetables, and a thick sauce. 

The noodles are not directly stir-fried. Instead, they are added to the pre-stir fried vegetables and mixed with a thick mixture of sauces and spices.  

Vegetables used in the dish typically include cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts.

And to make the dish more nutritious and flavorful, proteins like chicken, pork, and beef are stir-fried with the veggies. 

Lo mein is an excellent dish for those who don’t have much time to cook.

It’s easy to prepare and can be made in minutes. It’s also a great way to get some extra vegetables in your diet.

Plus, since lo mein is not bound to the strict rules of tradition like most Japanese dishes, it’s also a great dish to use up any leftovers.

You can use any vegetable and meat as long as it complements the flavor and texture of sauce and noodles.   

The best thing? It’s super versatile and can be eaten any time of the day, either as a snack, lunch, or dinner.

Hibachi noodles vs. lo mein: let’s compare

Now that you know what both of the dishes are and are familiar with the basics, let’s compare both from point to point and find out where they differ from one another: 

Type of noodles

Hibachi noodles are made explicitly with soba noodles to obtain that simple yet beautiful texture.

However, if you don’t have those available, you can also use udon or ramen. 

Just make sure not to overcook them, though. The noodles can get quite soft and mushy, breaking apart as you stir them. 

On the other hand, lo mein is only prepared with Chinese egg noodles.

That’s because they have a unique, springy, chewy texture, with the egg holding each noodle firmly together during cooking. 

Because of that, egg noodles don’t get mushy with all the extra heat they absorb (apart from boiling) during the cooking process, retaining a crisp texture and flavorful taste.  

Although you can also use rice noodles as an alternative, they aren’t as chewy, will affect the final texture of the dish, and might get even mushy if even a little overcooked. 

Preparation method

Hibachi noodles are typically stir-fried in a large flat-bottomed pan, on a hibachi griddle, or in a wok or on a hibachi grill.

The noodles are cooked in oil, garlic, and soy sauce until they are slightly crispy and browned and then served hot. 

In lo mein, the noodles are boiled in water until they are al dente (a fancy word for food that’s a little firm).

They are then drained and added to a wok or large skillet with pre-stir fried proteins, veggies, and sauces until they are cooked through fully, absorbing all the flavors. 


Hibachi noodles are usually cooked until they are slightly crispy and browned. The noodles have a crunchy texture that is somewhat chewy. 

Lo, mein noodles are cooked until they are al dente.

The noodles have a softer texture while still retaining some chewiness. In other words, it’s much like chowmein. 


Hibachi noodles typically contain oil, garlic, soy sauce, and sometimes vegetables.

However, adding vegetables is optional and quite limited, even if added. You can add some carrots, cabbage, green onions, and bean sprouts at the most. 

For flavoring, the main and almost only seasoning used is soy sauce.

However, If you are more into intense and complex flavors, you can add garlic soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and even oyster sauce as well.

They all go great with each other and make the perfect combination of salty, spicy, and umami goodness. 

On the other hand, lo mein is much more complex regarding ingredients.

It includes protein, seafood, vegetables, spices, and sauces.

The most common vegetables used in the dish include capsicum, carrot, spring onions, garlic, and onions.

Along with these veggies, some chicken and prawns are added for extra flavor, taste, and nutrition.

Afterward comes the star component of the dish, the sauce!

It combines various ingredients: dark soy sauce, regular soy sauce, mirin, sugar, some spices, sesame seeds, and cornstarch for thickening. 

Those who like it a bit more intense can also add teriyaki sauce to the mixture.

It adds a beautiful flavor to the dish, as well as aiding with the thickness, which means you won’t have to add as much starch as you usually do. 

Flavor profile 

Hibachi noodles have a very simple, salty, sweet, and spicy flavor when made with traditional ingredients.

However, as you alter the ingredients, e.g., adding more vegetables and sauces, things can get quite complex.

I highly recommend using simpler ingredients since you will already serve it with vegetables and protein.

Any extra flavorings can be overwhelming.

However, if you plan to eat the noodles alone, you can be as generous with the seasonings as you see fit. 

Lo mein has a generally savory flavor that is slightly sweet and salty due to the added sugar and mirin.

There are also some strong hints of umami, which comes from the combination of soy sauce and chicken.

If you like to add seafood, e.g., prawns or shrimp, you will also experience a slight meatiness. 

Overall, both taste delicious. However, hibachi noodles are simpler in flavor, while lo mein is a bit complex. That’s how I would put it!  

Learn more about the differences between Japanese and Chinese food in general


Can you use egg noodles to make hibachi noodles? 

Yes, you can definitely use egg noodles to make hibachi noodles. However, soba noodles are generally preferred for the dish if you want to go traditional. 

Is hibachi a noodle type? 

There’s no noodle type called “hibachi.” As long as any noodles are successfully cooked with the hibachi cooking style, the dish coming off, as a result, can be technically called hibachi noodles.

What is the difference between lo mein and fried noodles? 

The difference between lo mein and fried noodles is their method of preparation. “Lo” in Chinese means “tossed noodles,” and Chow or “chow mein” means “fried noodles.” 

Lo mein is prepared by tossing the noodles in pre-stir fried vegetables and protein, and chow mein or fried noodles is prepared by frying the noodles along with the other ingredients. 

Which oil is used to make hibachi noodles? 

 Generally, sesame oil is a favorite choice among hibachi restaurant chefs.

However, you can also use olive oil or peanut oil at home as they have a generally neutral flavor. 

Which one is healthier, lo mein or hibachi noodles? 

In general, both aren’t healthy. Hibachi foods generally tend to be higher in fat and oil, while lo mein is a complete bomb filled with sodium and fat.

Although both are okay to eat once in a while, I would choose hibachi noodles If I was to eat one of them more frequently. 


In conclusion, hibachi noodles and lo mein are delicious and popular Asian dishes.

While hibachi noodles are stir-fried and served with various vegetables and proteins, lo mein is a complete package of sauces, proteins, and veggies.

For a classic dish with a twist, check out my Filipino Lo Mein Beef Broccoli Recipe

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.