Skip to Content

New Orleans Traditional Yakamein Recipe

Feed yourself or a crowd with this scalable recipe, a New Orleans original. This simple beef and noodle soup has origins dating back to the Chinese railroad workers who set up a temporary Chinatown in New Orleans. Beef, noodles, broth and some Creole seasoning.

A bowl of Yakamein on a white table.

What is yakamein and why it’s so delicious?

Yakamein, also known as “Old Sober” or “Soul Food Soup,” is a classic and beloved Louisiana dish that has been around for generations. It’s a savory soup made with beef broth, noodles, vegetables, and spices like cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Most recipes add an egg on top. It is often cooked in a large dutch oven. The soup is typically served over wheat noodles like spaghetti or sometimes with oyster crackers on the side.

The unique flavor of yakamein comes from its combination of ingredients; the beef broth gives it an intense umami flavor while the other ingredients provide depth of flavor and subtle spicy notes. Additionally, the egg adds richness to the dish while providing texture contrast to all of the soft components in this flavorful bowl. Yakamein can be enjoyed on its own as a meal or as part of a larger spread at family gatherings or special occasions. No matter how you serve it up, one thing is certain: it’s sure to please any palate!

A bowl of Yakamein on a white table.

History of Yakamein

Yakamein, or “Old Sober” as it is sometimes referred to, has been a staple of New Orleans cuisine for centuries. Its origins are steeped in mystery and legend, with some claiming that the dish was brought over by Chinese immigrants in the early 1800s while others suggest it was invented during the Great Depression by African Americans who had limited access to ingredients. It is basically a lo mein that has been adapted to Creole flavors.

“In the movie Whipsaw, from 1935, starring Myrna Loy, a character in New Orleans places a phone order with a Chinese restaurant for, among other things, Yaka mein.” – Wikipedia

Whatever its true origin, yakamein has become an iconic part of New Orleans culture and has been enjoyed for generations.

The unique blend of noodles, beef broth, vegetables, spices and hard-boiled eggs makes this hearty soup a favorite among locals and visitors alike. While there are numerous variations on how to prepare Yakamein depending on personal preference or availability of ingredients, it remains a beloved classic that stands out from other traditional Southern dishes.

Essential Ingredients

Ingredients for Yakamein on a cutting board.

For the traditional style Yakamein served today, these ingredients are common:

  • beef (the cheaper the more authentic)
  • spaghetti or other wheat noodles
  • mirepoix (celery, bell pepper, onion)
  • Creole spices
  • beef broth
  • hard-boiled egg
  • scallions

How to make this recipe

Beef cooking in a large pot with wooden spoon.
Cook the beef over medium-High heat in a large pot.
Mirepoix cooking in a large pot.
Set aside the beef and add the vegetables and seasonings to the pot.
Mirepoix cooking in a large pot.
As the veggies cook, scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits.
Boiling soup in a large pot with wooden spoon.
Add the water, broth and beef back into the pot. Simmer for 1-2 hours until beef is tender.

Toppings Galore – Create the ultimate bowl of Yakamein with these unique toppings

Of course with any iconic dish, people will agree to disagree about THE best version. In this case, it is usually on what to garnish it with. Here are a few garnishes I found that Yakamein fans swear by:

  • catsup
  • hot sauce
  • chili oil
  • soy sauce
  • worcestershire sauce
  • parsley
A bowl of Yakamein on a white table.


IS YAKAMEIN THE SAME AS RAMEN? – Yakamein and Ramen have similarities but are two completely different soups. Yakamein’s broth is simple and quick where Ramen broth is simmered usually overnight and utilizes roasted beef bones, giving the soup a rich, thick texture from the gelatin exuded from the bones. Both have slightly chewy noodles. Yakamein uses more seasonings in the form of spices and Ramen utilizes fresh herbs and slightly different aromatics.

WHO IS THE YAKAMEIN LADY? – Chef Linda Green is the Yakamein Lady. I first heard of her from a Netflix series called Street Food USA. Chef Green learned how to make Yakamein from her mom, and her mom learned from hers and so-on. She has sold this dish from her front yard, at Mardi Gras and just about any Jazz or Southern art venue around.

CAN I SAVE THE LEFTOVERS? – Yes but keep the noodles, eggs, scallions separate from the soup. This should keep well in the fridge for up to a week. The noodles may stick together so drizzle a little olive oil on them and rub it in. Or better yet, just freshly cook the amount of noodles needed for that day.

A bowl of Yakamein on a white table.

Traditional Yakamein Recipe

Yield: 16 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Yakamein is a Asian - Creole fusion recipe that is probably over 200 years old. Made with beef, wheat noodles, broth, seasonings and garnished with hard boiled eggs and scallions. It is a New Orleans original recipe that is the ultimate comfort food for the local citizens. Also known as Old Sober, this nourishing soup is a special treat when combined with late night festivites.


  • 1 Tbs cooking oil such as canola, grapeseed, vegetable
  • 1.25 lb beef (any cheap cut, it will tenderize as it simmers), thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of frozen mirepoix (may use fresh bell pepper, onion, celery), diced
  • 2 tsp Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups beef broth, low sodium
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin

Optional Garnishes

  • soy sauce
  • chili oil
  • hot sauce


  1. In a large dutch oven, add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add beef and stir. Cook. until all liquid from the beef has evaporated and a brown fond forms on the bottom of the pot. Remove meat and set aside.
  2. To the pot add the vegetables (mirepoix) and Creole seasoning. Stir frequently, continuing to cook over medium-high heat. Scrape the bottom of the pot where the brown bits formed with a wooden spatula, this will add flavor to dish.
  3. Once vegetables are soft, add water, broth and beef. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and turn heat down to low. Cook for 1-2 hours until the beef is tender enough to eat.
  4. While the soup is simmering make 7-minute eggs and cook the spaghetti according to package directions.


In a medium size pot, fill halfway with water and bring to a boil. With a spoon, gently lower each egg into the water. Set a timer for 7 minutes. When done, take out each egg with a spoon and place in a bowl of ice water. Leave for 5 minutes, then peel and set aside.


Equally ladle out soup into four bowls. Add the cooked spaghetti that has drained. Sprinkle with scallions. Add one egg, sliced in half, to each bowl. Enjoy!


  • You may substitute the Creole Seasoning for you favorite but keep in mind, different seasoning blends have different salt levels, same for broth.
  • You may substitute the spaghetti for other noodles such as lo mein, soba or other Italian pastas.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 564Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 309mgSodium: 1413mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 47g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Sunday 17th of September 2023

I can't wait to try this Yakamein recipe. It looks scrumptious.


Monday 25th of September 2023

Enjoy this easy recipe! I loved it:)

Skip to Recipe