healthier fried noodles

Courtney Takabayashi
March 07, 2024

I can still remember waiting for my mom to pick me up after swim lessons at Kaneohe District Park. I’d be talking to my friends when I’d hear the grainy melody of “Pop! Goes the Weasel” in the distance. “The Manapua Man is coming!” someone would shout. Then, I’d see the beat-up white van pull into the parking lot. As soon as the van parked, there’d be 10 kids in line, change in hand, ready to buy snacks. 

The Kaneohe Manapua Man was a thin, tan, older Asian man who never spoke a word. No hellos or thank yous. There was an unspoken mutual respect. If you had money, you got food. And there was something so delicious about the food. The assortment of candy, juice and soda, salty pork hash, fluffy manapua, and of course, the fried noodles. 

The fried noodles were my favorite, maybe because it was so simple: Chow mein sometimes topped with char siu, sometimes sprinkled with green onions, and always served in a plastic bag.  

Here’s a take on the Manapua Man’s fried noodles that we call “healthier” because we bake the noodles instead of frying them in oil. Plus, we added lots of veggies to help balance the carbs. Feel free to customize with your favorites. Plastic bag optional.



  • Cooking spray
  • 1 lb. chow mein noodles
  • ½ lb. prepared char siu pork, sliced in slivers, divided
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped, divided
  • 1 8-9 oz. package bean sprouts
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sugar snap peas, peeled and sliced


  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 Tsp. shoyu
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray bottom and sides of pan with cooking spray. 

In a large mixing bowl, add noodles, half the char siu, half the green onions, and all of the bean sprouts, onions, celery, carrot, and snap peas. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine sauce ingredients. Set aside. Add sauce to noodles and toss until coated. Add noodles to pan. Add the rest of the char siu and green onions for garnish. Cover with foil. Bake 20-25 minutes. 

Some people like their veggies well done, so if that’s the case, you can sauté the veggies with a little bit of cooking oil before adding to the noodles.

If you don’t want to bake your noodles, you can always fry them in a healthy oil like avocado oil


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