It's anyone's guess where this ramen-esque noodle dish originally came from. Chinese immigrants to New Orleans? Vets back from WWII? Someone's midnight run through a corner store after a night of drinking?
One thing is for sure: this dish of spaghetti, slow-roasted pork or beef, hardboiled eggs, and green onions served up in a broth made rich with soy and ketchup is the hangover cure to end all others.
Have you ever had it?
I first heard of ya ka mein from a fellow traveler, Daniel Delaney of What's This Food?! and VendrTV, on my trip to New Orleans early last month. Just a few weeks later, I opened the first issue of Lucky Peach to find a whole article dedicated to the food.
Booths and trucks selling ya ka mein are a staple of New Orleans festivals and second line parades, where (one supposes) there is a high demand for post-drinking nourishment. The salty, umami-rich broth and hearty noodles sound like just the ticket after a night of revelry.
Sadly, I didn't get a chance to try ya ka mein while I was in New Orleans. I'm wondering if making it at home can possibly live up to the real thing:
Also, check out Daniel Delaney's first impression of yakamein! It starts around the three-minute mark if you want to skip ahead:
• VendrTV: 2010 Road Food Festival from Daniel Delaney
What do you think of yakamein?
(Image: Daniel Delaney/VendrTV)