This cozy and warm Chinese and Creole beef noodle soup is a delicacy throughout New Orleans.


Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs 30 mins
8 servings

Yakamein is a hearty and comforting beef noodle soup with roots in Chinese and Creole cuisine. Commonly served throughout New Orleans at corner stores, alongside Second Lines, and in Black households, it is loaded with tender beef braised in a stock seasoned with garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce for a rich umami flavor. Yakamein’s nickname is “Old Sober,” because of its rumored ability to cure a hangover.

The origins of this dish are convoluted. One theory says that Black soldiers enjoyed a version of the soup overseas during the Korean War. When they went back to New Orleans they brought the culinary tradition home, adapting the recipe based on the ingredients available. Another theory, per Leah Chase, is that the soup originated when the Chinese came to New Orleans during the massive expansion of America’s rail system in the late 1860’s. Because of their social status as laborers, the Chinese were treated like enslaved people and so intermingled with enslaved Africans. Through those cross-cultural connections, yakamein was born.

The words “yaka” and “mein” refer to a type of Chinese wheat-based noodle. Versions of this soup can be found in the south and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., although the type of noodles and other ingredients may vary depending on the region. This recipe, from Chicago chef Brian Jupiter’s New Orleans-style Ina Mae Tavern, is served with spaghetti noodles and hard-boiled eggs and garnished with scallions.


  • 4 pounds beef bones, roasted

  • 2 heads garlic, cut in half

  • 1 medium (6-ounce) onion, sliced

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped

  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 medium (3-ounce) tomatoes, chopped

  • 9 cups water

  • 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

  • 1/2 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, halved


  1. Place bones in a large stockpot. Add garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper, oyster sauce, soy sauce, mushrooms, bay leaves, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes. Cover with water and simmer 4 hours. Skim fat from top of stock. Pour stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large clean pot; discard solids.

  2. Season chuck roast with salt and pepper and sear in a large skillet over medium-high until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add chuck roast to stock and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. Transfer roast to a large bowl, and let cool at room temperature, about 20 minutes.

  3. Shred or chop meat and return to large bowl, removing and discarding any large chunks of fat.

  4. To serve, reheat stock over medium heat until simmering. Divide spaghetti and roast evenly among 8 bowls. Top each evenly with scallions and 1 egg half; ladle about 1 cup stock over top. Serve with additional soy sauce and hot sauce.

To Make Ahead

You can simmer the stock and braise the beef up to two days before serving, and cook the spaghetti earlier on the day-of. When the stock is covered and placed in the fridge, the fat solidifies, making it even easier to skim the fat from the top of the stock. You can easily reheat the meat in the stock before serving.

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