About Ms. Linda

Winner of the Food Network's Chopped: Pride of New Orleans contest and featured on Anthony Bourdain's Food Network show No Reservations, Linda Green reputedly has the best Ya-Ka-Mein in the United States and is known throughout New Orleans as the "Yakamein Lady."

For the past twenty years, she has sold her Ya-Ka-Mein along Second Line routes, along with running Ms. Linda's Catering, which specializes in New Orleans Soul Food cuisine for all size events.

Ms. Linda has served up her delicious food at festivals and events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Essence Festival and the Crescent City Farmer's Market. These experiences have shaped her as an entrepreneur and brought her notoriety amongst New Orleans' natives and famous entertainers.

Congratulations!

Ms. Linda Wins Chopped
Congratulations Ms. Linda for winning the Food Network's "Chopped: Pride of New Orleans" contest!

Didn't catch the episode? Click here for future airing dates! 

What is Yakamein?

Ya-ka-Mein is a New Orleans dish made from a combination of meat, eggs, green onions and noodles in a spicy, salty broth with an Asian twist by the addition of soy sauce. Black Korean soldiers made Ya-ka-mein in Korea, using the soup to sober up after a fierce day of fighting and drinking. They brought the dish to the states, where it has been a tradition ever since. It was typically served in African-American bars, Second Lines and festivals, referred to as "Old Sober", reflecting its power to alleviate the pain of hangovers.

Linda Green, simply known by many as the “Yaka Mein Lady”, is the most well known parade and festival Ya-ka-mein purveyor.

No Reservations

Tony travels beyond New Orleans and into Cajun Country to find out what sets bayou culture apart. He dines with locals Wendell Pierce and Lolis Elie, partakes in an authentic crawfish boil and ends his trip with a whole-hog roast.

Wednesday, 02 March 2011 18:00

Yakamein – Soup for the New Orleans Soul

It comes with many spellings: Yakmein, Yaka mein, Yak-a-mein, and even Yak a Men are just a few. It is also often referred to as “Old Sober” for its supposed hangover curing properties. Although found in restaurants and take-out joints, NOLA’s unique Asian/Soul Food hybrid soup known as Yakamein is also a street food staple at parades, fairs, and festivals. Like many other quintessential New Orleanian foods, Yakamein comes surrounded by myth and debate. It’s a spicy noodle soup that is generally made with a beef and soy sauced based broth; spaghetti noodles; some sort of protein such as beef brisket, chicken or shrimp (or all three); onions and/or chopped scallions, and a hard-boiled egg sliced in half. Cooks often add or have available on the side Creole or Cajun seasoning, Old Bay Spice, or some signature combination spices. Additional soy sauce, Worchester sauce, hot sauce, and even ketchup are often added as condiments, or snuck into the broth, depending on the chef’s own signature recipe.

No one is quite sure how or when this Asian inspired soup made it into the African American cuisine and community of New Orleans. One story has the soup returning with servicemen from Japan after WWII or the Korean war (accompanied with their Asian war brides) where it was introduced then adapted into becoming a distinctive fusion dish. Another story traces Yakamein back to Chinese immigrants in the 1800s who came to Louisiana to work first on plantations then later on, the railroad lines often side by side with African Americans. The name does have Asian roots. Mein is the Chinese word for noodle, while the phonetic “Yaka” remains a bit of a mystery in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines. The food obsessed RiceBall has written a pretty comprehensive blog post on the subject here. Leah Chase, one of the grande dames of New Orleanian food history also has a pretty comprehensive take on Yakamein as well:

No matter the mysterious origins, a hot sloppy soup might not seem the easiest to transport and eat on the street. Yet, Yakamein is well loved on parade routes served in Styrofoam containers slurped with plastic spoons and forks. A handful of bills at about $6 dollars gets you a belly full. Linda Green, simply known by many as the “Yaka Mein Lady”, is the most well known parade and festival Yakamein purveyor. Look for her on the neutral ground near parade routes, at official New Orleans festivals, and where ever else there’s a big old NOLA style celebration. You can also follow her on twitter @oneofTEAMBREEZY.

Yakamein: A little bit funky, a little bit fusion, and a whole lotta NOLA.

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