[Photo by Matt Duckor] You don't normally order Chinese delivery (or any take-out food, for that matter) expecting innovation. The key to any comfort food that comes delivered by bike or car in a plastic bag is consistency. Will whatever hot sustenance contained inside a plastic tin satisfy you every single time it shows up to your door? To me, nothing fits the bill more than a bowl of lo mein tossed with chicken, beef, or pork and a simple sauce--usually some combination of soy and oyster sauce, Chinese rice wine, and a bit of honey. It is sticky, sweet, filling, and immediately satisfying. It pairs well with just about any beverage, from cheap beer to a bone dry riesling. You don't want it to be different. Until it is and it totally works. Last night, my lo mein showed up looking, well, a bit different. Instead of a thin, eggy noodle, this bowl was filled with a thicker noodle. This was not the lo mein I recognized--they'd completely altered the classic dish I know and love. But, I wasn't outraged enough to, you know, not eat it. And I'm glad I did. Each strand was perfectly coated with the slick sauce and flecked with chili flakes, a tangled mass of deliciousness with no twirling spoon required. My local delivery joint substituted in a thick Chinese egg noodle that resembles udon (which you can buy pre-cooked at your local Chinese grocery store). But, more importantly, I envisioned a brave new world filled with lo mein whenever I want it: You don't have to run out and buy lo mein egg noodles from my local Asain foods market. I could use a think wheat noodle closer in size to bucatini pasta, something I have in my dry pantry arsenal. American Chinese restaurants often use chow mein and lo mein interchangeably and shouldn't--chow refers to noodles that have been partially cooked and stir-fried, while noodles in lo mein are fully cooked separated and tossed in with sauce. Essentially, lo mein follows the same process you'd use to make carbonara or spaghetti and meatballs, but in a blazing hot wok. So, the next time you're make this killer Roast Pork Lo Mein and try substituting lo-mein noodles thick with udon-like variation, bucatini, or any other thick dried pasta and be amazed how easy it is recreate (and upgrade) the magic at home.