Here are the different types of noodles in Japan you can try! Check it out!
The country Japan has been a fairy tale dream of mine since I was a little girl and one main interest I had about Japan was the food. Well, visiting Japan seems a little far-fetched for now but thank the stars for the availability of Japanese restaurants in our local region.
While it may be common knowledge that rice is Japan’s most consumed staple food, noodles also play a huge role in the country’s food culture.
As a matter of fact, the art of making noodles has been practiced for over a thousand years in Japan.
Japan has an eclectic variety of noodles ranging from the type of noodles and how it’s prepared and served.
Among the large selection of Japanese noodles available, a few that I tried and thoroughly enjoyed are Ramen, Udon, Soba, Yakisoba, Somen, Hiyamugi, Shirataki and Harusame. Let me go ahead and briefly describe a few of these beauties.
Source: Best Japanese Products
Types Of Noodles In Japan
Ramen is a classic Japanese noodles dish known worldwide, which I’m pretty certain most of you all are aware of. I’d heard about ramen long before trying it for the first time and man did I fall in love with it when I actually did try it.
Ramen is served with a soup prepared using the meat stock of pork or chicken mixed with a few other ingredients like dried baby sardines, kelp, shiitake, onions, pork and beef bones and tuna flakes.
It’s also served with various toppings. The noodles used to prepare ramen are relatively thin and most times curly or wavy, making it a good balance to absorb all flavor from the broth.
From what I ate and learnt, the variations of ramen has increased over the years and multiplied into several different flavors, although the 3 oldest and most common types of ramen flavors are; Shoyu ramen, which is a basic ramen soup made with meat stock and plenty soy sauce, topped with toppings of choice.
Although it’s quite basic, this ramen bursts with flavor and is a true delight to the taste buds.
The second one is Shio ramen. Shio ramen is a very simple ramen made using only salt and broth. This ramen has a light yellowish color and is prepared with straight noodles.
Its simple combination of spices is soft on the tongue yet rather enjoyable. I’d say the Shio ramen is a safe bet for those with a choosy palette.
The last and final type of noodles is miso ramen, miso ramen is popularly known in international regions as well, this is a unique ramen which is prepared using a blend of miso, oily chicken or fish broth creating a nutty, rich and seemingly sweet soup.
Miso ramen stands out with a touch of a tangy flavor giving room for a wider range of toppings: white pepper, chili and chopped garlic, butter and corn, leeks, onions, ground pork, bean sprouts, cabbage and sesame seeds are some commonly used toppings.
Personally, miso wins the ramen round, the richness of the broth and thick slightly chewy noodles really overtakes the others.
Key Features of Ramen
- Served with a soup prepared with meat stock.
- Noodles are relatively thin and often curly or wavy.
- 3 most famous types of ramen are: Shoyu, Shio and Miso ramen.
Udon is one of the two most famous noodle types in Japan.
Udon noodles are typically made with wheat flour, although there can be a few exceptions where Udon noodles are made using potato starch or with the incorporation of carrot to give it an orange color, these noodles are rather rare and hard to find since most Udon noodles are made using wheat flour.
However, they aren’t impossible to find, the udon noodles I bought were from the Japanese store in the neighborhood.
I had prepared the noodle dish with other authentic Japanese ingredients bought from the same store, I served it with a chicken broth topped with a sprinkle of chopped green onions.
The mix of flavors along with the chewy texture of noodles created a delightful combination, it’s a definite must try for all noodle lovers.
2. Udon— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
Japanese udon noodles are the thickest type of Japanese noodles, with a wonderfully chewy texture and characteristic pale white color. pic.twitter.com/1WjsCiQzuB
The Udon noodle sizes and shapes may vary, but a common feature in all noodles is they’re thick form.
Udon noodles are often served with a variety of broths and toppings, although sometimes it’s served with a simple clear broth, a sprinkle of green onions and a slice of kamaboko.
These noodles can also be served chilled and are surprisingly delicious when dipped in sauces, with a cold broth or as a salad, especially during the scorching summers.
Key Features of Udon
- One of the 2 most famous noodle types in Japan.
- A common feature in all noodles is the thick form.
- Can be served chilled with a cold broth or as a salad.
While Udon is one of the two most famous noodles from Japan, Soba is what equals udon with its fame. Both these noodle types are equally loved.
One thing I realized while eating the soba noodles was the contrast between the soba and the Udon noodles.
While the udon noodles are made with white wheat flour, soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour giving it a darker color and an earthier nutty flavor.
The soba noodles are slightly thinner than the udon noodles and more like the shape of spaghetti, however, both of these noodle types have almost the same applications and can be interchangeable in some situations, although this may cause the end result to be slightly different in taste and texture.
3. Soba— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
These thin buckwheat noodles can be made either entirely from buckwheat flour – which is ideal for those on a gluten-free diet – or with a mixture of buckwheat flour and white wheat flour. pic.twitter.com/ho7OWseuek
Soba noodles have a lot of health benefits too. It is the only gluten-free Japanese noodle, which is great for those of you who are gluten sensitive.
Studies show that these noodles are also high in protein, decrease heart disease and stroke risks, are better for blood sugar and are also macrobiotic, meaning they support agriculture, local farming and even mental well-being.
If you are a physical and mental health-conscious noodle lover, you’ve just found your match.
The role Soba noodles plays in supporting the environment is what drew my attention to it. I love that something as simple as a noodle type helps in the act of bettering the eco world.
Key Features of Soba Noodles
- The other most famous type of noodle in Japan.
- The only gluten free Japanese noodle.
- Benefits the human health in various ways.
- Support agriculture and local farming.
Apart from the name, this noodle dish has no similarities to the soba noodles.
Yakisoba directly translates to ‘fried noodle’. This is a stir fry noodle dish which was first introduced during the 1930s in Japanese street food stalls.
Yakisoba noodles have a simple process of preparation and are an absolute treat to the taste buds.
I prepared the yakisoba noodles by frying ramen style noodles along with tiny cubed pork, finely chopped vegetables like carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts.
4. Yakisoba— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
Although you might assume these are also buckwheat noodles, yakisoba are actually wheat noodles. pic.twitter.com/gGU4wHNGT9
I then mixed together yakisoba sauce, salt and pepper and served with a variety of garnishes like shredded pickles, fish flakes, seaweed or Japanese style mayonnaise. This noodle dish is packed with flavor and is widely known to be a street food in Japan.
Key Features Yakisoba Noodles
- Directly translates to “fried noodle”
- First introduced in the 1930s.
- Widely known to be a Japanese street food.
Somen noodles first originated in Japan, it’s made with wheat flour and has a mild, delicate taste and texture. The noodles look very similar to vermicelli noodles and they are extremely thin and almost transparently so.
My interest for somen noodles grew when I saw it on plenty Japanese anime shows where they had washed down these noodles on flowing water through a bamboo chute and the diner had to pluck the noodles out with his chopsticks before it passed, this way of serving is called nagashi somen.
Fortunate for me this method of serving is available in a Japanese restaurant I found downtown, the flavor of somen is fleeting and nice, yet the method of eating alone is a whole new experience, it made me feel euphoric, being able to recreate something out of my favorite anime has got to be one of my best memories of all time.
5. Sōmen— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
Another form of wheat noodles, sōmen is perfect for a hot summer’s day. pic.twitter.com/P6cespH6WQ
Another way of serving somen noodles, that I prepare at home, is by adding the noodles to an umami rich broth made with a simmering Japanese kelp called ponzu which I mix with dried bonito flakes.
On some occasions I top this noodle dish with a poached egg or grilled chicken, beef, shrimp or ham and slices of green onion for the punch of flavor.
Key Features of Somen
- Mild taste and texture.
- Extremely thin and almost transparent, similar to vermicelli.
- The nagashi somen serving method can be seen on Anime shows.
Shirataki literally means ‘white waterfall’ in Japanese, this noodle type is named after its clear translucent visual appearance. Shirataki is made using the underground stem of Konjac yam, this yams corm is rich with glucomannan.
But to my surprise the noodles blended perfectly well with the added flavors and spices I used to prepare it, and turned out to be extremely delish.
The shirataki noodles are rather versatile in regard to how they’re cooked. While noodles in general are prepped, once boiled shirataki noodles can be dry roasted after drained.
This process distinguishes the subtle bitterness usually present in the noodles. I pair it with soup stock, sauce or noodle soup which resulted to be quite flavourful.
8. Shirataki— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
Similar to harusame, shirataki are thin, translucent noodles made from konjac yam. pic.twitter.com/zzIQ1XTnL1
I also use shirataki to make sukiyaki, nikujaga and other stewed noodle dishes.
These noodles are also known as miracle noodles, devils tongue noodles, konjac noodles and ito konnyaku, ito konnyaku is a shirataki noodle form which is thicker than the general noodle, it has a square cross section and darker color.
Key Features Of Shirataki
- Shirataki literally means “ white water-fall”
- Made with the corm of Konjac yam
- Composed of 97% water and 3% glucomannan fiber.
These were the most popular types of noodles you’ll come across in Japan. Now you can order your favorite type of noodles in Japan or maybe even enjoy all of them!
Hiyamugi is one of the more uncommon Japanese noodles created from wheat flour. The name translates to “cold noodles”, and as the name implies, it’s typically served chilled.
Hiyamugi is thinner and shorter in length than its more popular cousin, udon noodles. It’s typically served with a variety of dipping sauces such as yuzu-kosho, a citrus-based condiment, or a tartari-based mix.
6. Hiyamugi— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
These more uncommon Japanese noodles are created from wheat flour and lie almost exactly between sōmen and udon in terms of thickness. pic.twitter.com/dyFNgvx5ln
The variety of hiyamugi noodles one will encounter in Japan is surprisingly diverse, ranging from round to straight with a number of thicknesses to choose from.
It’s not uncommon to find dried varieties that require soaking before being cooked.
Depending on the formulation, some hiyamugi noodles can also be cooked similar to soba, which involves boiling the noodles in a mixture of water and soup stock and then served with a dipping sauce.
The flavor profile of hiyamugi will vary depending on the brew used to create it. Being a wheat flour-based noodle, hiyamugi will typically be more nutty and mild-flavored than its heftier counterparts.
Despite its mild taste, hiyamugi still offers plenty of depth, especially when served with a piquant dipping sauce to enhance the flavor profile.
One of the best uses for hiyamugi noodles is in a dish known as hiyashi chuka. A popular summertime dish, hiyashi chuka involves multi-colored, chilled vegetables that are arranged atop a bed of hiyamugi noodles that are served cold with a light soy or miso-based dressing.
Vegetables commonly used in this dish include cucumbers, ham, eggs, and bean sprouts. While the dish has originated in Japan, there are also variations that include various types of seafood, such as shrimp and scallops.
Hiyamugi may be more of an uncommon noodle, but its light and easy to prepare, making it a great option for a light lunch or a snack.
As with any noodle dish, the key to success is to find the right combination of ingredients to bring out its unique flavor.
With its mild taste and diversity of preparation options, hiyamugi is sure to be a welcome addition to any noodle lover’s repertoire.
Often found in Japanese cuisine, Harusame is a type of noodle that is also known as “Glass Noodle”. It has a transparent appearance that gives it the name glass noodle.
It is thin in nature, and is composed of mung bean flour, making it a great alternative for gluten-free individuals.
7. Harusame— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
Often called glass noodles thanks to their transparent appearance, harusame refers to thin noodles typically made from mung bean flour or potato starch (meaning they’re also gluten-free). pic.twitter.com/3SomCCnMiA
Harusame has a range of uses, from being a delicious and filling side to soups, stir-fries and salads, to even being fried or boiled.
Many popular dishes in Japanese cuisine include Harusame and commonly it can be found being used in salads such as Chinese Chicken salad or even in popular cold Japnese noodle dishes.
The interesting thing about Harusame is the texture it has, which is slightly chewy and crunchy at the same time.
This texture is created by passing the noodles through a hot bath and it is fast reactions to the thermal change that makes it unique.
The fine strands of the noodles make them extremely light and as such they can also be fried.
As well as this, they take on flavours effectively, such as the vinegary flavour that is commonly associated with cold noodle dishes.
Harusame also works effectively in hot dishes as the noodles don’t mush together, providing a delicious surface area for other flavours to be absorbed.
This makes it the perfect addition to stir-fries and it is often used comprehensively in Vegetable Tempura dishes, as it carries the flavours incredibly well.
A fantastic addition to dishes, Harusame is often a great way to make dishes stand out. Its unique texture and its ability to take on flavours make it a very popular noodle to have in Japan, and beyond.
Rice noodles are a staple of Japanese cuisine, and can be found in a variety of dishes.
Rice noodles are commonly made using rice flour, and are thus a popular option for those with gluten intolerance, as they do not contain any wheat.
9. Rice Noodles— Japan byFood (@byFood4) October 18, 2022
As the name indicates, Japanese rice noodles are made using rice flour rather than wheat flour. pic.twitter.com/GPAMOGLZmL
They can be found in a variety of different thicknesses, from thin to thick and are typically transparent in colour.
Rice noodles can be used in an array of dishes, from soups to stir-fries with a variety of flavourings.
Very thin varieties, known as some, are perfect for cold salads and are often served chilled in the summer.