[Japanese Noodle] differences of ramen, soba, udon, and somen

Working in an office building where a lot of Japanese companies are stationed, I got to visit an authentic Japanese restaurant (located in the building) frequently. Thus, getting to know about the food is just natural. What’s interesting is the noodles.


There are 4 common Japanese noodles that I become familiar with so far:

  • Ramen. Out of the 4 types, I think this is the most widely known type. Ramen is like Chinese-made wheat noodle, served with meat-based broth/soup (either chicken or pork) or miso/shoyu soup. As for the topping, the normally used ones are spring onion, seaweed (nori), and the meat itself.
Ramen (picture from Wikipedia)
  • Udon. Udon is the second most popular noodle. Thicker than ramen, udon is also made from wheat flour, served with milder soup of soysauce base. It is usually topped with fried dishes (tempura).
  • Soba. Soba is Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour, with or without the mix of wheat flour. What’s unique about soba is that it can be served both hot and cold, normally depending on the season. Both hot and cold soba are served with mild soysauce (shoyu)-based soup and topped with spring onion and nori.
  • Somen. Somen is also made from wheat flour, but with very thin diameter (it’s very soft structured like vermicelli). It is more common to find somen served cold, but I tried the hot version and I like it. Like soba, it is normally served with mild shoyu-based soup.

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