Egg Foo What the Fuck

eggfooyoung  browngravy

One of my favorite scenes in Sleepless in Seattle is right after Tom Hanks (Sam) and son (Jonah) drop off Hanks’ new-ish girlfriend at the airport. Jonah is, idonknow, 8, and his mom just died and he of course isn’t all that into the girlfriend.

After the drop off, Sam tries to explain dating to Jonah. Sam wonders why girlfriend twirls her hair, wonders why she laughs in a certain way, wonders why she…well, whatever weird girl things she does. And Sam tells Jonah that he’s willing to get to the bottom of it. Understand her. She’s like a glove and he’s trying to see if they fit. If they’d make a pair. Or something like that. You know, just go watch the movie.

Well, I feel this way about egg foo young. I’ve always been curious about the dish, you know, there being egg in the title and all. But I’ve never ordered it. So when 80P and I ordered-in Chinese the other night, I went for it: vegetable egg foo young.  (We ordered from Great Wall Szechuan House, a top pick from the WaPo food critic. And holy crap – best Chinese ever. The eggplant with garlic sauce. Wow. Silky, soft purple nuggets. Do it.)

I pretty much hated the egg foo young. Greasy. Just greasy. And I love grease. But it appeared as a mangled mess of batter and grease and batter-stained broccoli and weird fried parts and slabs of omelet-style eggs and diced carrots. And I really just don’t know what else. Accompanying this concoction – gravy. What? Yes, totally not anything special brown gravy.

But you know what. I’m intrigued. I’m willing to investigate. I will follow this egg fascination around the globe. I will get to the bottom of egg foo young.

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  • Adam February 11, 2009  

    I’ve found that egg foo young is generally a hit or miss item, with it missing most of the time. However, I’ve found a place that makes it well (Oriental Noodle House in Midtown) and I suggest you do the same, as it’s totally worth it.

  • BS February 11, 2009  

    Is egg foo young a real chinese thing or a made-up American-Chinese thing. It sounds too funny to be true.

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  • PlethoraOfPinatas February 11, 2009  

    @Adam – Right on! I’ve had good Egg Foo Young only once, in SF’s Chinatown. I gave up on metro DC take-out EFY after being disappointed with all manner of sour, bitter, crunchy (like eggshells, not fried egg) pancakes. Don’t even get me started on the brown gravy… I don’t want to know what they make that from.

    @BS – Egg Foo Young is def American-Chinese.

  • Jay February 14, 2009  


    Egg foo young is American-Chinese. “Foo Young” is actually “egg white”, so you’re actually getting and “egg egg white” dish.

  • Tai February 14, 2009  

    Egg Foo Young (???) is an authentic Chinese dish. However it is basically an omelette with meat / vegetables and there is no standard recipe. The North American versions tends to be very greasy though. And the gravy is just over the top!

  • orangefleabait February 15, 2009  

    egg foo young is something to make at home. i don’t order it at restaurants unless i see it go by and it looks decent. i ordered foo young in salt lake city recently and it looked like it had been deep fried… really gross. make it at home.

  • gansie February 15, 2009  


    do you have a home chef version? im really intrigued.

  • Yvo March 4, 2009  

    BS – read Jennifer 8 Lee’s Fortune Cookie Chronicles, it talks about the evolution of Chinese food through America and is REALLY fascinating. If you’re half as fascinated by food history as I am anyway.

    Jay – what dialect is that? Cuz I can’t figure out in how egg white translates to foo young in either Mandarin or Cantonese…?

    gansie – I’ve never actually had egg foo young in/from a restaurant, but my understanding is that it varies regionally and even restaurant to restaurant how it is served. Some do it with brown gravy, some do it with hoisin sauce, some… I don’t know, I’m getting all this information from having read Fortune Cookie Chronicles about 2 months ago. However, I did come up with my own approximation of what it might be like, and it was delicious the way I made it. Basically you take a bunch of julienned veggies and cook them to however you like in a small skillet and then pour a beaten egg or two over it and kind of form a pancake-ish thing. I put hoisin sauce on it and used only bean sprouts (cuz that’s what I had on hand) and it was DELICIOUS.
    I’ll call and ask my mom later if she knows how to make it, cuz she and my dad used to have Chinese restaurants (the real deal kind but they also did take out because apparently in Mississippi back in the 70s there wasn’t a whole lot of demand for real Chinese food. Who knew.).

  • BS March 4, 2009  

    wow that does sound interesting – all I had read about that book was Gawker making fun of her, but sounds like I ought to give it a read!

  • Jodi April 2, 2009  

    You are such a jackass putting the “what the fuck” in the title of this article so that it shows up for all of the school children searching things on google to see. You could have at least used WTF instead, no? You must be retarded. Are you retarded, retard? WTF is wrong with you? I hope that you have kids someday, or do now, and that at least one of them turns out to be retarded – seriously. Fuck you. What the fuck?

  • Maids April 2, 2009  

    @Jodi, plenty of cursing at a young age = how to raise ’em kiddos Jersey-style. Gansie has a dirty mouth but we all love her for it here 😉

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