15 types of Japanese noodles

Noodles are a staple food in Japan. There are thousands of noodles that differ from the West, both in the composition of the dough and in the ingredients of the dish. In this article, we are going to look at different types of Japanese noodles.

Despite mentioning different types of noodles, Japan is famous for making its own pasta in restaurants, so the taste and type kind of changes from region and restaurant, providing original and indescribable types.

Throughout the article we will highlight one of the keywords for each type of pasta, by clicking on it, you will be redirected to an article that talks more about that particular type of pasta.

Ramen or Lamen - Noodle Soup

Ramen is a simple dish that consists of a noodle soup with a variety of ingredients and flavors. Restaurants usually make their own noodles used in the dish, which are very similar to noodles ramen (only in appearance).

There are hundreds of different types of ramens, some chefs take a lifetime to perfect their original recipe, lamen it can take up to 12 hours. There are thousands of ramen restaurants across Japan.

In addition to the traditional shoyu lamen, shio lamen and misso lamen, we also have different preparations like tsukemen and tantanmen. Some cooks go further and create ramens with black broth, on fire or stuffed with meat, imagination is the limit!

Japanese noodle type - ramen
A Traditional Ramen

Soba - Buckwheat Noodles

Soba is a traditional Japanese noodle made from buckwheat that is often served cold or hot. They are easily found all over Japan, it is a very common dish that replaces the standard meals consisting of rice and meat.

There are different types of Soba, from the most consistent industrialized to homemade made from pure buckwheat which has a super fragile consistency. The noodles usually mix with the sauce of the dish causing a magnificent flavor.

Some of the characteristics of soba are its crispy feel, the way the dough and sauce mix and meet on the tongue, as well as its smell. The most traditional are kakesoba, tempura soba, Zarusoba (cold noodles), sansaisoba and many others.

Japanese noodle type - soba
Different types of dishes with soba noodles

Udon - Thick Noodles

Udon is a thick noodle made from wheat flour. This pasta is usually thicker and whiter than soba, and it also has a broth made from dashi, mirin and shoyu. Usually a Soba restaurant serves the same dishes with Udon noodles.

That is, there is the zaru udon, kake udon, kamaage udon, chikara udon, kare udon, kitsune udon and many others in the same way that soba exists. Udon has a lighter flavor that usually depends on the sauce and the ingredients that accompany it.

While soba noodles are brown, smooth and thin, udon noodles are bright white, round and thick. The flavor and density of udon noodles may vary depending on the region of Japan where you eat them.

Japanese noodle type - udon
Udon Noodles are actually quite thick

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Harusame - Transparent Noodles

Harussame, also called glass noodles, is a type of transparent noodles made from starch and water. They are usually sold in dry form, often used in soups, fried dishes or spring rolls.

The harusame It is usually made with bean sprout starch, potato starch, sweet potato starch, tapioca or canna starch. In the case of the Japanese version, it is usually made with potato starch. Its name literally means spring rain (春雨).

Translucent noodles are commonly used to make salads, or as an ingredient in hot pot dishes. They are also often used to make Japanese adaptations of Chinese and Korean dishes. Another similar alternative is Shirataki.

Japanese noodle type - harusame
A harusame salad

Shirataki - Calorie-free noodles

Shirataki also known as Konnyaku gained popularity outside of Japan as a weight loss food due to the lack of calories. The thin, translucent noodles are made from konjac yam and is rich in dietary fiber, low in carbohydrates and calories.

Pasta is very popular in Sukiyaki, nikujyaga and other cooked dishes. The noodles can also be drained, dried, and toasted, which lessens the bitterness and gives the noodles a consistency, often used in soup or sauce.

the noodles shirataki can be purchased dry or wet. When purchased wet, they are packed in liquid. They typically have a shelf life of up to one year. It is recommended to wash the noodles to remove the odor of the liquid version.

Sukiyaki - Japanese noodle type - shirataki
Sukiyaki dish with some shirataki

Somen - cold noodles

The only [素麺] is a very thin white wheat flour noodles, usually served chilled and cold, popular in Japanese summer. The same noodles can be served hot in winter by the name of nyumen.

The somen is cooled shortly after being cooked and is served plain to be dipped in a sauce called tsuyu, which is often the basis of katsuobushi with onion, ginger or myoga. Amazingly, this iced pasta is really delicious.

Some restaurants offer nagashi-somen. On this occasion the noodles are placed in long bamboo troughs that float through it, at this moment you must be quick, take the noodles and put it in the sauce. A kind of noodle mat.

Japanese noodle type - somen
Nagashi-somen being served on bamboo mat

Yakisoba - Fried Noodles

The word Yakisoba literally means "fried noodles". This dish is widely consumed and appreciated in many parts of the world, especially in Brazil. It is a street food, present in festivals and fairs.

Yakisoba is a simple dish, basically made with noodles sautéed with vegetables and meats. Always well seasoned and with a specific sauce. Chinese noodles used in Ramen Soup called chuukamen approaching the lamen.

There are variations like yakiudon made with thick noodles. Yakisoba is so famous and succulent that it is often sold inside a bun at convenience stores called yakisoba bread.

Japanese noodle type - yakisoba

Tokoroten - Seaweed noodles

Tokoroten is a noodle made from agarophyte algae and has been consumed by the Japanese for over a thousand years. Tokoroten is believed to have been introduced to Japan by China during the Nara period, it was widely consumed in the Edo region.

Originally noodles were simply made by boiling "tengusa" and served to eat on the spot. Through freezing, the emergence of kanten, jelly or agar-agar was discovered. Its firm resistance gave rise to pasta tokoroten.

Tokoroten can be consumed hot or cold. As pasta it is best eaten with a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce, sometimes with nori, pepper and sesame. In the Kansai region, tokoroten is consumed as a dessert with kuromitsu.

Japanese noodle type - tokoroten

Hiyamugi - Iced Wheat

Hiyamugi [冷麦] means cold wheat, it is a type of dry Japanese noodles, very thin and made of wheat. It is thicker than somen, similar to vermicelli, considered the second thinnest noodle after only.

Hiyamugi are between 1.3 millimeters and 1.7 millimeters in diameter. Anything thicker is udon and anything thinner is sōmen. They are usually white, but can be mixed with pink or green noodles.

Hiyamugi it is appreciated cold during the summer months. It is usually served over ice or floating on water in a clear glass bowl. Chilled noodles are served with a sauce on the side called tsukejiru, made with dashi, soy sauce and mirin.

Japanese noodle type - hiyamugi
An example of hiyamugi, but it looks thin for my taste.

Chanpon - Noodles cooked in soup

Chanpon is a regional noodle dish from Nagasaki. There are different versions in Japan, Korea and China. The dish was inspired by Chinese cuisine. It is made by frying pork, seafood and vegetables with lard in a soup made with bones.

Pasta is made especially for the chanpon. Unlike other ramen dishes, only one pan is needed as the noodles are cooked together with the soup. Depending on the season, region and situation, ingredients differ along with flavor.

There are other variations found in Japan. Ankake no Chanpon is a soy sauce-based variant found in Tottori, Shimane Prefecture, as well as Amagasaki City, Hyōgo Prefecture.

Japanese noodle type - chanpon

Instant Noodles - Cup Noodles

Instant noodles and the famous Cup Noodles was invented in 1958 in Japan by Momofuku Ando, founder of Nissin. One of the most consumed pasta around the world, in Japan there are thousands of different flavors and types of instant noodles.

Instant noodles are consumed by a large part of the Japanese and world population, due to the low price and short preparation time. Called ramen, its flavor doesn't even come close to an original ramen.

Despite being tasty, it is rich in fat, sodium and several chemical components, which can be bad for your health if consumed too often. Nowadays all countries manufacture their instant noodles.

Japanese noodle type - cup noodles
Some ramens from Korea that are quite spicy.

Other types of Japanese noodles

Sanuki udon – Popular in Kagawa, it has its unique characteristics, the noodles have a square shape and flat edges with a very chewy texture. This type of udon can be found in restaurants written [さぬき].

Wanko Soba – A style from Iwate Prefecture, particularly in Morioka and Hanamaki. It consists of a small portion of soba noodles in small bowls. Where you quickly eat your soba noodles and refill your bowl right away.

Sara udon – Literally meaning “dish noodles” is a dish native to Nagasaki prefecture. Despite the name Udon, there are variations with thin noodles that are quite popular. Noodles are served with fried cabbage, moyashi, vegetables, pork and others.

Okinawa Soba – A type of noodles made in Okinawa, its pasta is not like the original soba, it is more like udon and your soup reminds me a lot ramen, the dough may come out slightly flattened depending on the region in Okinawa.

Toshikoshi soba – Traditional Japanese noodle dish eaten on New Year's Eve. This custom leaves the hardships of the year behind because plain buckwheat soba noodles are easily cut when eating.

Tsukemen – A very strong type of ramen with thick broth where you actually dip the noodles in the broth to eat it. Soba and udon are some types of noodles used in the dish.

Wafu Pasta - Italian Pasta in Japan

In Japan, as in the rest of the world, you can find the traditional pasta from Italy and other regions of Europe. Western recipes like carbonara It is quite popular in Japan. I personally tried these pasta thanks to Japan.

There are restaurant franchises like saizeriya specializing in pasta similar to Italian dishes, but adapted to the Japanese palate. Pizzas and other types of pasta are quite common in Japan.

There is a fusion of Italian pasta with Japanese pasta called Wafu Pasta. Just as you find authentic Italian recipes in Japan, you also find traditional pasta like spaghetti in Japanese recipes.

The origin of Wafu dough dates back to 1953 in a small restaurant in Tokyo called Kabenoana (Hole in the Wall). At the time, there were only three restaurants serving pasta in Tokyo, one of which was in the Imperial Hotel.”

Italian-style pasta is often called pasta, which literally refers to pasta. It is also commonly used to refer to the variety of pasta dishes. In Japanese, noodles are called men [麺].

Typically, dough is made from an unleavened dough of durum wheat flour mixed with water and formed into sheets or various shapes. It can be made with flour from other cereals or grains, and eggs can be used instead of water.

Japanese pasta vocabulary

In addition to the types of Japanese noodles we've seen throughout the article, you may want to try other Italian pasta and pasta dishes. Below we will leave a list of words referring to types of noodles in Japanese.

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
PortugueseJapaneseRomaji
thick noodles太麺futomen
egg pasteエッグパスタeggupasuta
angel hairカペッリダンジェロkaperridanjero
Thin pasta (fettucine)平麺hiraman
capelliniカッペリーニkapperiinii
vermicelliバーミセリbeemiseri
carbonaraカルボナーラkarubonaara
fedelineフェデリーニfuederiini

Where to buy Japanese noodles?

After seeing these delights, you may wonder where to buy and eat these noodles. If you are in Japan, just go to any street to find a market or restaurant, since those who live in Brazil have some difficulty finding them.

In Brazil it is common to find yakisoba, udon and ramen, but even a simple and traditional buckwheat soba is hard to find. Some manage to buy such pasta in markets with an oriental products section.

Unfortunately, these supposed oriental industrialized noodles sold in the market are not the same noodles found in Japan. Many are made in Brazil and only imitate the real pasta found in japanese restaurants.

List of Chinese Noodles

Japan and China have a great connection, so it is quite common to find Chinese pasta in Japan, both in Japanese versions and in its original Chinese version. To complement the article, let's leave a list of Chinese noodles:

Sometimes the name below just refers to the ingredient in the Chinese pasta mix. It is a popular and common dish. I hope you enjoyed the article, if you liked it share and leave your comments.

  • Ants climbing a tree
  • Banmian
  • Beef chow fun
  • card
  • Chongqing
  • Chow mein
  • Crossing the bridge
  • Kuan fen
  • Dan zai
  • Dandan
  • Drunken
  • Hokkien mee
  • Hot and sour
  • Hot dry noodles
  • Lanzhou beef lamian
  • Liangpi
  • Lo mein
  • Lomi
  • Huoguo dun fen
  • Luosifen
  • Mee pok
  • milinge
  • Satay bee hoon
  • Shanghai fried
  • Su-style
  • Ulmyeon
  • Wonton
  • Yuntunmian
  • Zhajiangmian
  • Biangbiang
  • Cellophane
  • I'm sorry, but "Chinkiang" does not have a direct translation in English. It could be a specific product or a place name. Can you provide more context or information about what "Chinkiang pot cover" refers to?
  • Cumian
  • Daoxiao
  • dragon bear
  • Henan braised
  • "Quente e seco"
  • Jook sing
  • Kaomianjin
  • Lai fun
  • Lamian
  • Liangpi
  • Migan
  • Misua
  • Mixian
  • Mung bean sheets
  • Oil
  • Paomo
  • Ramen
  • Rice vermicelli
  • Saang mein
  • Shahe fen
  • Shrimp roe
  • Silver
  • Yi mein
  • Youmian
  • Gong Zai Mian
  • Wonton noodles
  • Cheonsachae
  • Dotori guksu
  • Garak guksu
  • Jjolmyeon

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