Difference Between Pak Choy and Bok Choy

Pak Choy vs Bok Choy

Not many people are aware of the fact that both Pak Choy and Bok Choy stand for the same leaf vegetable, the Chinese cabbage scientifically known as Brassica rapa. Chinese cabbage, used widely in Chinese cuisine, there are two distinctly different subspecies that are known in the culinary world today, namely Pekinensis or Napa Cabbage or Chinensis, popularly known as Bok Choy or Pak Choy. Bok Choy is mostly grown in Asian regions like China, the Philippines and Vietnam and yet today, has captured the hearts of the western world as well due to the sweetness of its tender stalks.

Although mostly referred to as Chinese cabbage, the most widely used term for Chinensis in North America is Bok Choy, literally meaning white vegetable. In countries such as Australia, UK, South Africa, and other Commonwealth Nations, the Chinensis is more commonly referred to as Pak Choy. Chinese mustard, Chinese chard, celery mustard, and Spoon cabbage are some of the English names used to describe the Chinensis all over the world.

In china amongst mandarin speakers, Bok Choy is often referred to as yóu cài meaning oil vegetable since most of the cooking oil in China is extracted from the seeds of this vegetable. Among Shanghainese speaking people, this leaf vegetable is referred to as   qīng cài literally meaning blue-green vegetable.

Three commercial variants exist in Chinensis. Bok Choy is what is usually referred to have succulent white stems with dark green leaves growing upright up to 12-18 inches tall whereas Choy sum, literally standing for ‘vegetable heart’ stands for a small and delicate version of the Bok Choy, bearing a more closer resemblance to rapini or broccoli rabe. Baby Pak Choy also known as mei quin choi or Shanghai Bak Choy is a less mature version of the Bok Choy that is predominantly green in colour including its varioles.

Bok Choy or Pak Choy is known to be very low in calories containing a high amount of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Also, rich in antioxidants and a high amount of fibre, Bok Choy is also known as a sweeper of the bloodstream eliminating the bad cholesterol from the body. The glucosinolates found in Pak Choy is known to be beneficial for cancer patients in small doses, which in large doses are known to be somewhat toxic.

The slight mustardy flavour of Bok Choy lends itself to soups, stir-fries, meat dishes, noodles, and the young leaves are used for salads. The crunchy, fresh nature of the Bok Choy makes it an excellent additive for sandwiches as well allowing it a unique texture. Pak Choy can also be added in the regular coleslaw recipe as a substitute to cabbage since it belongs to the same family, giving it a sweeter flavour.

Chinese cabbage, raw
(Chinensis, Pak Choi)

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)


54 kJ (13 kcal)


2.2 g

- Dietary fiber

1.0 g


0.2 g


1.5 g

Vitamin A equiv.

243 μg (30%)

Vitamin A

4468 IU

Vitamin C

45 mg (54%)


105 mg (11%)


0.80 mg (6%)


19 mg (5%)


65 mg (4%) 

Source: Wikipedia, April, 2014

What is Pak Choy?

The Chinensis, which is a subspecies of the Chinese cabbage, is popularly known as Pak Choy in countries such as Australia, UK, South Africa, and other Commonwealth Nations.  

What is a Bok Choy?

The most commonly used species of Chinese cabbage Chinensis is referred to as Bok Choy in North America.

Pak Choy vs Bok Choy

• Bok Choy and Pak Choy are two different names used to refer to the same leaf vegetable, the Chinensis subspecies of Chinese cabbage.

• In North America, Chinese cabbage is referred to as Bok Choy whereas, in commonwealth countries such as Australia, UK, south Africa etc., it is referred to as Pak Choy.

Thus, it must be concluded that Bok Choy and Pak Choy both refer to the same leafy green vegetable which are known under different names in different regions of the world.