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For the villages in Romania, see Făcăi (disambiguation).
Fat choy
Faat choy.jpg
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaning hair vegetable
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Literal meaning hair vegetable

Fat choy (Nostoc flagelliforme), also known as faat choy, fa cai, black moss, hair moss or hair weed is a terrestrial cyanobacterium (a type of photosynthetic bacteria) that is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine. When dried, the product has the appearance of black hair. For that reason, its name in Chinese means "hair vegetable." When soaked, this vegetable has a very soft texture which is like very fine vermicelli.


Fat choy
Nostoc flagelliforme microscope.jpg
Nostoc flagelliforme under a microscope
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Division: Cyanobacteria
Class: see [1]
Order: Nostocales
Family: Nostocaceae
Genus: Nostoc
Species: N. flagelliforme
Binomial name
Nostoc flagelliforme

Fat choy grows on the ground in the Gobi Desert and the Qinghai Plateau. Over-harvesting on the Mongolian steppes has furthered erosion and desertification in those areas. The Chinese government has limited its harvesting, which has caused its price to increase. This may be one reason why some commercially available fat choy has been found to be adulterated with strands of a non-cellular starchy material, with other additives and dyes.[2][3] Real fat choy is dark green in color, while the counterfeit fat choy appears black.[2]

Chinese culture[edit]

The last two syllables of this name in Cantonese sound the same as another Cantonese saying meaning "struck it rich" (though the second syllable, coi, has a different tone) -- this is found, for example, in the Cantonese saying, "Gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4" (恭喜發財, meaning "wishing you prosperity"), which is often proclaimed during Chinese New Year. For that reason, this product is a popular ingredient in dishes used for the Chinese New Year. It is enjoyed as an alternative to cellophane noodles.[citation needed] It is mostly used in Cantonese cuisine and Buddhist cuisine. It is sometimes used as a hot pot ingredient.

Vietnamese culture[edit]

Fat choy is also used in Vietnamese cuisine. It is called tóc tiên or tóc thiên (literally "angel's hair") in Vietnamese.

Health effects[edit]

A research team from the biochemistry department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that international research has shown that Fat choy, besides having no nutritional value, has also been found to contain Beta-methylamino L-alanine (BMAA), a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells. Professor Chan King-ming of the team told the media that eating Fat choy could lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and dementia.[2]

There is also a study by Takenaka which shows no significant difference between laboratory rats fed Nostoc flagelliforme and the control group .[4]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ ijs.sgmjournals.org
  2. ^ a b c The standard.com.hk
  3. ^ Waynesword
  4. ^ Takenaka, H., Yamaguchi, Y., Sakaki, S., Watarai, K., Tanaka, N., Hori, M., Seki, H., M. Tsuchida, M., Yamada, A., Nishimori, T., and Morinaga, T. "Safety evaluation of 'Nostoc flagelliforme' (Nostocales, Cyanophyceae) as a potential food". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1998. Volume 36, Issue 12. Pages 1073-1077.


  • But, Paul Pui-Hay; Ling Cheng; Pui Kwan Chan; David Tai-Wai Lau; and Joyce Wing-Hin But (2002). "Nostoc flagelliforme and Faked Items Retailed in Hong Kong." Journal of Applied Phycology 14: 143-145.
  • Takenaka, H., Yamaguchi, Y., Sakaki, S., Watarai, K., Tanaka, N., Hori, M., Seki, H., M. Tsuchida, M., Yamada, A., Nishimori, T., and Morinaga, T. "Safety evaluation of Nostoc flagelliforme (nostocales, cyanophyceae) as a potential food". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1998. Volume 36, Issue 12. Pages 1073-1077.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_choy — Please support Wikipedia.
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571 news items

Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas Sun
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:15:00 -0700

Here are my absolute new-to-me favorite Las Vegas joints and dives with food that will give you cravings even in your sleep. No. 1: Fat Choy, Eureka Casino, 595 E. Sahara, FatChoyLV.com. With its 1950s-style dinner motif, it's insanely out of place in ...

Las Vegas Weekly (blog)

Las Vegas Weekly (blog)
Wed, 12 Aug 2015 14:02:45 -0700

Wed, Aug 12, 2015 (2 p.m.). Fresh off a recent appearance on the still wildly popular Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Fat Choy owners Sheridan Su and Jenny Wong are set to embark on another adventure. The husband and wife duo will soon be opening Flock ...

Vegas Seven

Vegas Seven
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 16:50:35 -0700

And when Su later took over the coffee shop at the Eureka casino and rechristened it Fat Choy, it was an immediate hit. What too many devotees fail to realize, however, is the role Su's wife, Jenny Wong, has played in these off-Strip success stories ...

Time Out London

Time Out London
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:11:15 -0800

Horses are so last year. It's all about the lambs and rams, now that the Chinese Year of the Sheep is approaching. And, as Chinatown gears up for the annual shindig, we're expecting big crowds, food vendors, lion and dragon dances, costumes, floats and ...


Thu, 19 Feb 2015 09:31:41 -0800

Today, February 19, marks the Chinese or Lunar New Year of 2015 and we at Bensonhurst Bean and Corner Media would like to wish all who celebrate a warm gung hay fat choy! We said farewell to the year of the horse last night and today we welcome the ...
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 05:30:00 -0800

Gung hay fat choy: Chinese New Year. Posted: February 17, 2015 08:35:10 AM Category: Lifestyle & Entertainment Tags: chinese new year, culture, food, gung hay fat choy, lesley stewart, Pay Chen, tradition ...
Evening Standard
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 04:14:12 -0800

On Thursday February 19, the Chinese Year of the Sheep begins. Kate Lough shows you where to find the best of the feasting and say Kung Hei Fat Choy (Happy Chinese New Year). Kate Lough; Tuesday 27 January 2015 12:09 GMT. Hoping for good ...

Diablo Magazine

Diablo Magazine
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:15:00 -0800

February 19 kicks off Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations for 2015, a year the Chinese zodiac suggests will be marked by creativity and inspiration, thanks to its distinction as the year of the ram. Here are some of the best ways to celebrate: ...

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