Ramen, Udon and Soba: The American View

Written by on September 7th, 2018 // Filed under Blog

A Quick Western Guide to Japanese Noodles

Noodles are the quintessential food of the Japanese. Japan is such a noodle-loving country. When Westerners, like Americans, visit, they see noodles practically everywhere. From street stalls to high-end restaurants, in offices and in homes, there is just no escaping noodles. The Westerner knows there are different types; they’ve seem different colors, sizes, and might say even taste different from each other. A Westerner is aware of at least three types of Japaneses noodles and can tell them apart.

Ramen is by far the most popular Japanese noodle Americans know. Real ramen noodles are wheat-based, darker yellow than ramen bought at the store and a lot tastier. They are long, springy, and cooked just to the right firmness. Ramen stands out because of its broth. It can be quite salty but it enhances the taste of the noodles to bring about a range from rich and hearty to light and refreshing. Ramen is usually topped with a nori, a slice of roast pork, bamboo slices, and half boiled egg. With dozens of varieties of broth, Westerners say that it’s possible to live in Japan for a few months and not eat the same ramen twice.

Udon is the second most popular noodle. Thicker than ramen, udon is also made from wheat flour, served with milder soup of soy sauce base. It is usually topped with fried dishes (tempura). It is usually topped with fried dishes (tempura).They’re white in color because they’re made from wheat flour. Udon should also be firm and al dente but one should be able to bite these noodles cleanly apart. Udon broth is fairly uniform and simple. There have been new varieties but the classic style, kakejiru, flavoured with soy sauce, dashi, and mirin, is still the most popular udon broth. The deep fried toppings set udon apart from other noodles. One can have a smorgasbord of toppings and the selection is endless.

Soba is the noodle Westerners are least exposed to. Soba noodles have the same thickness as ramen noodles, but soba is different in that it’s made from buckwheat flour which gives it a distinctive brown colour, and has a much softer, less elastic texture. Soba is usually served chilled on a bamboo tray, but you can also order it in soup. Chilled soba comes with a fairly strong broth made of soy sauce, dashi, and mirin, served on the side in a tiny little cup. The idea is that a piece of soba noodle is picked up to soak into the broth and then enjoyed. Soba noodles are excellent at soaking up broth.

K-Ton: Best Place to Start Enjoying Japanese Noodles

Want to enjoy these great tasting, iconic noodles and see the difference? All you got to do is come by our Japanese restaurant in Federal Way. We’ve got varieties to make your mouth water and more.