Top 5 Japanese Noodles

Posted by Oyatsu Cafe on

When you think of Japanese noodles most likely Cup Ramen will pop into your head. But did you know that there are a lot more different noodles in Japan than you might expect? It is true that the staple food for college students is highly popular inside and outside of Japan, but the local cuisine has so much more to offer than that. Noodles are almost as essential to Japanese dishes as rice and some of you might be confused with all the different variations out there. We have compiled a quick introduction into the most popular kinds of noodles so you are prepared for your next trip to the land of the rising sun. Lean back and enjoy our quick peek into Japanese cuisine.

1. Ramen

Let’s start with the most well-known Japanese noodles out there: ramen. You will see characters slurping it in anime and meet foreigners falling in love with authentic Japanese ramen. These noodles are made out of wheat flour, salt and water and are characterized by their pale yellow color. They are thin and have a firm texture which makes them popular amongst all ages. There are more variations of ramen out there than we could list; every prefecture, area, restaurant and family can have their own ramen recipes and it is amazing to see how versatile these noodles really are. One thing is clear: ramen is the king amongst Japanese noodles.  

2. Udon

Udon Next up are udon, another staple food of Japan. They are the thickest noodles you can find and will fill your stomach for a long time. Their ingredients are similar to the ones of ramen and mainly rely on wheat flour as well as a few other ingredients like salt or water. Udon can be eaten cold or hot and even fried in the form of yaki udon. You can either enjoy them combined with almost any type of meat and vegetable or just as they are together with a simple dipping sauce to add some flavor.  

3. Soba


Soba and udon are like two sides of one coin, but their ingredients and taste differ greatly. The dark soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are popular in both hot and cold form. In the summertime, many people eat chilled zaru soba to cool their bodies down. This dish consists of a plate of cold soba noodles that are dipped into a sauce consisting of mirin, soy sauce, sake, wasabi and dried seaweed. In many Japanese restaurants you can either choose between soba and udon for certain meals. While they are certainly interchangeable both noodles still have a distinct taste that divides many people into soba fans and udon fans.  

4. Somen

Somen Speaking of eating noodles during the summer, no other noodles are more popular during the hot months than somen. Somen are similar in taste to udon, but are much thinner than the thick noodles. Even though they can be eaten hot as in a soup dish called nyumen, somen are most popular during the summer. They are cooled down with ice cubes and eaten instantly with different dipping sauces. Another popular variation are nagashi somen where the noodles flow through open bamboo sticks in a stream of ice cold water. Catching these noodles certainly requires some chopstick skills.  

5. Shirataki

Shirataki Last but not least we have a kind of noodles that is relatively unknown outside of Japan. Shirataki are made out of flour from the konjac yam. These roots give shirataki their characteristic gelatinous consistency as well as their almost translucent color. Shirataki are especially popular amongst people who try to lose weight since they are low in carbohydrates and calories while still having essential fibers. In supermarkets you can buy them in small packages filled with liquid that you drain before you start cooking. These noodles are slowly making their way to Western countries as a useful addition to low-carb diets.  
Were you surprised by how many different noodles there are in Japan? Noodles are more versatile than you might think and you can definitely do more to them than just pressing them into different shapes. While they are simple to make and easily affordable you can get numerous dishes with diverse flavors out of them - a truly amazing food. Have you ever heard or eaten any of our Top 5 noodles? If not, which ones would you like to try? Share your opinions and experiences in the comment section down below!

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