Ya Ka Mein Beef Noodle Soup (Yock, Old Sober or Yat ka Mein)

Ya ka Mein, or Yat Ka Mein beef noodle soup,  simply “Yock” or “Old Sober” as it is nicknamed, is a New Orleans style beef noodle soup with Chinese inspired flavors made in the slow cooker.
Ya ka Mein  beef noodle soup

Ya Ka Mein

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

Ya Ka Mein (sounds like “Yock-a-Mee”) is a beefy noodle soup made in New Orleans, among other places, which has entwined itself permanently with Cajun cuisine. It is also found around the Portsmouth area of Virginia. While some may go back and forth between the origins of that, I have also seen claim to it from Northern China, although the Chinese version, while made similarly,  usually has chicken instead of beef. In China, the name itself might imply “one cup of noodles” (as it is usually served in cups in  NOLA, with “yat” implying “one” in Cantonese and “mein” referring mostly to meehoon noodles.

It is a poor man’s food, to be certain,  made mostly of a simple stock with beef or other meats, and spaghetti topped with an egg. Sometimes called “Old Sober”, it is a hair of the dog type of food suitable for restoring the souls of heavy drinkers following long nights in the French Quarter of NOLA, which is a party town. For those looking to have a bite after being out and the long evening hours drew closer to morning, a simple hot soup topped with an egg, might seem a weird sort of breakfast, but it could certainly help get you back on your feet. Or so I suspect at least help ward off a hangover by getting a person a bit hydrated again.

Ya ka Mein, or Yat Ka Mein,  simply
You can have a peek at the ingredients list and see that it possibly is often made in a kitchen not well stocked. Maybe the ingredients seem odd, but it does work in the right proportions. And all the flavors combine to lie in the mists between NOLA and a never ending hole that leads to China, perhaps in the middle of the Earth itself. The best of both worlds. How those worlds came  together in this fusion cuisine may never be known,  as it has long been part of the local cuisine.  Many Asian peoples have settled in the south, perhaps for the weather or proximity to the gulf coast.

This is an easy soup to  adapt to whatever you  might have on hand, such as leftover meats or vegetables if you like. Its humble nature makes it suitable for such provision. With both Fat Tuesday and Chinese New Year being this week,  I hope that it is something you can enjoy as much as I have had in sharing this with the #SoupSwappers group, which is sharing Cajun Soups today. While not entirely what one usually suspects when thinking of Cajun soup, it is very very NOLA.

Ya ka Mein, or Yat Ka Mein,  simply

Ya Ka Mein

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ya ka Mein, or Yat Ka Mein,  simply

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef chuckeye steak, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun spice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons beef base (bouillon paste)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1  pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 4-6 hard-cooked eggs
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced
  • sriracha sauce or tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)


  1. Brown beef, onion and garlic in oil with Cajun spice and black pepper.
  2. Place in crock of slow cooker with water, beef base, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and stir.
  3. Cover and cook on low  for six hours, or until beef is very tender.
  4. Place cooked noodles in bowls and top with beef soup mixture and a sliced hard-cooked egg, a few sliced scallions and hot sauce as desired.

From  the kitchen of palatablepastime.com


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11 responses

  1. What a great story! I love learning about new foods and it’s cool that you were able to get a “twofer”!
    This would be filling and just what is needed when one is down….or just plain hungry!

  2. I actually saw a news story about this soup this past week, and then, here it is. You made some! I’ve actually got some Udon noodles in the fridge that would go well in here, and am planning on making it this week as well. I don’t usually do breakfast foods, but I do love a big bowl of soup in the morning.

  3. I love that it has a hard-boiled egg in it…I can live with that. I can’t, however, deal with people throwing fried eggs on top of things just to pretty em’ up. That annoys me! This soup looks fantastic!

  4. What a good recipe to combine Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras- I used to love going for Pho back in my 20’s as a “hair of the dog” as you say, so this, I imagine is perfect for a NOLA celebration!

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