9 Types of Japanese Noodles: A Guide to Japanese Noodles Types Explained!

by Erika Shinomoto
types of japanese noodles

Want to buy Japanese noodles? Read this post of types of Japanese noodles so you can make the best choice for your Japanese noodle dish!

When we talk of staple food in Japan, noodles take a high position. It is considered to be a convenient food that can be eaten and enjoyed in several different ways. There is never a single way of eating the different types of Japanese noodles. 

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You can have it chilled with dipping sauces, in soups, stir-fried, or in salads. There are so many different varieties of noodles available. Today, I have brought to you some of the types of Japanese noodles that you can find. 

Types of Japanese Noodles

Ramen (ラーメン)

I love ramen, and I am sure most of you feel the same way about it. Ramen (ラーメン) is probably one of the most famous Japanese noodles that you can find. Ramen is a wheat-based noodle that is thin and often curly and wavy. 

The color of ramen is a little on the yellow side. The ingredients used in making Ramen include wheat flour, salt, water, and alkaline water. Before rolling, the dough is allowed to rise. It is believed that the noodles are imported from China and so, they are sometimes known as Chinese soba, or chuka soba.

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There are a variety of ways in which you can enjoy your ramen. But most often, ramen is taken as a part of a soup that is made from chicken or pork stock. Other things that are added as toppings include katsuobushi, niboshi, shiitake mushrooms, and onions. 

Tonkotsu soup (豚骨ラーメン)

This is a cloudy white-colored soup that has a thick broth that is made using pork bones.

Shoyu Ramen (醤油ラーメン)

This is one of the most basic forms of ramen soups available. It has a clear brown broth that is made with some type of stock. It also makes use of plenty of soy sauce. For toppings, you can use marinated bamboo shoots, green onions, kamaboko, boiled eggs, and bean sprouts. 

Shio Ramen (塩ラーメン)

This is a yellowish broth that is a little lighter in color as compared to other ramen salt and broth.  broths. It is a very simple broth that is made using only salt and broth. The flavor is very light. Also, when eating Shio ramen, make sure you are using straight noodles instead of curly ones. 

Miso Ramen (味噌ラーメン)

This is, again, a very popular variant. This type of ramen is very popular in the Hokkaido region. For this type of ramen, you can use butter, corn, cabbage, sesame seeds, and garlic for toppings.

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Udon (うどん)

If you are looking for the thickest Japanese noodles, look no further. Udon (うどん) noodles are made of wheat and are best eaten chilled. These noodles taste best when eaten chilled and dipped in sauces.

You can also serve it in a broth soup. The most simple way of eating Udon is by pairing it up with thin slices of green onions and a slice of kamaboko. 


Another type is known as ‘fox udon’, also known as Kitsune udon (きつねうどん), in which you use sweetened aburaage as a topping. For Tanuki Udon (たぬきうどん), or ‘raccoon udon’, you use tempura batter flakes as toppings.

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Tempura udon (天ぷらうどん) has tempura as toppings. You may also see that kakiage (かき揚げ) is used sometimes. Chikara udon (ちからうどん) uses mochi, and Stamina udon (スタミナうどん) uses meat, egg, and vegetables as toppings.

Udon is also a very popular choice in nabe dishes. In Nagoya, we can see that the Udon noodles are eaten in miso soup, and this helps create a dish called miso-nikomi udon (味噌煮込みうどん). 

In Yamanashi, Hoto udon (ほうとう) is extremely famous. These are the thickest noodles that you can get and these are cooked in a thick miso soup. A lot of vegetables are also used in the preparation of these noodles. 

Soba (そば)

Another kind of noodles available in Japan is known as Soba (そば), or buckwheat noodles. These noodles are made with a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flour.

If you are sensitive to gluten, you may want to look for soba that is made using 100 percent buckwheat. For those with gluten sensitivity, these may be the only Japanese noodles you may be able to eat. 

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There are various ways in which you can enjoy soba. You can eat them chilled or served in a soup. 

The chilled soba noodles are known as Zaru-soba (ざるそば). The chilled soba is served n a bamboo tray along with bits of nori seaweed and green onions. You eat it by dipping it in tsuyu.

Many people drink soba yu, the water in which the soba was cooked, after eating the noodles. They love mixing the leftover tsuyu in it. 

There are various toppings that are used in chilled soba. Some of the most common ones include tororo, which is a puree of yamaimo and grated daikon. For warm soba, the toppings include tempura, sansai (mountain vegetables), and duck. 

If you are acquainted with the New Year traditions of Japan, you would know that the Japanese love eating soba as a part of their traditional New Year’s meal. This practice has several meanings attached to it. It is believed that soba is eaten on the New Year for long and healthy life.

Yakisoba (焼きそば)

Yakisoba (焼きそば) is made using wheat flour noodles and is stir-fried. Just because the name contains ‘soba’ in it, it does not mean that it uses buckwheat flour.

The yakisoba noodles are quite similar to ramen. You use several toppings to make these noodles delicious. These include small pieces of pork, cabbage, onions, and carrots. Yakisoba sauce, salt, and pepper are used to enhance the flavors. 

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Yakisoba (焼きそば) is also a very popular street food and is very common in matsuri and yatai regions in Japan. It is topped with green seaweed powder, red pickled ginger, bonito flakes, and mayonnaise to give the noodles a distinct and succulent flavor. 

Somen (そうめん)

Somen (そうめん) is most commonly eaten cold and is made of wheat flour. Since it is best enjoyed cold, it is extremely popular during the hot summer months. You will also find people eating somen in warm soup during the winters. This is known as nyumen.

You do not need to make some (そうめん) in a fancy manner. It is whipped up quite easily and using the most basic ingredients.

It is first cooked and dipped in tsuyu and then it is chilled in ice. The sauce used is usually a katsuobshi-based sauce. Onion, ginger, or myoga are used as toppings. 

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The most popular and fun way of eating somen during the summer is as flowing somen, which is known as nagashi-somen (流しそうめん).

You may have seen several animated shows or movies where noodles are dropped down a long bamboo flume. The diners need to catch these flowing noodles and dip them in tsuyu before enjoying it. It is quite a popular way of enjoying these noodles. If you happen to be in Japan during the summertime, do not miss out on this fun. 

Hiyamugi (ひやむぎ)

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Hiyamugi (ひやむぎ) has a thickness that is more than somen but less than udon. The way these noodles are cooked and served is also quite similar to somen and udon.

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You can also see that these noodles are not always white. You will see that green or pink colored noodles are often mixed with these.

Shirataki (しらたき)

Shirataki noodles (しらたき) do not have calories in them, which is why they have become extremely popular all across the planet as a weight-loss food.

These are thin and translucent noodles that are made from konjac yam. These noodles are low in carbohydrates and calories, but quite high in dietary fiber. 

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Shirataki does not have much flavor in it, so you can play with your cooking. It is quite versatile to cook these. You can prepare these noodles the same way you prepare other noodles.

However, the most common way in which Shirataki is used is in sukiyaki, nikujaga, and other stewed noodles. 

Harusame (はるさめ)

These are glass noodles that are made using potato starch. These are quite similar to Chinese glass noodles. The most popular way of eating Harusame noodles (はるさめ) is in salads or in hot pot dishes. 

Sanuki Udon (佐貫うどん)

Originating from the Kagawa Prefecture in Japan, Sanuki Udon is a beloved and distinctive type of udon noodle. 

Renowned for its simplicity and chewy texture, Sanuki Udon holds cultural and culinary significance within Japan’s gastronomic landscape.

The hallmark of Sanuki Udon lies in its thick, white, and toothsome noodles. 

Made from a basic mixture of wheat flour, water, and sometimes a touch of salt, the dough is meticulously kneaded and then repeatedly folded and rolled to create a distinctively firm yet tender texture. 

This labor-intensive process results in noodles that are hearty and can absorb the flavors of accompanying broths and sauces remarkably well.

Commonly served in both hot and cold preparations, Sanuki Udon showcases its versatility. 

In its traditional form, it is served hot in a simple soy-based dashi broth and garnished with green onions or tempura. 

Cold variations, known as “zaru udon” (ざるうどん, involve chilled noodles served on a bamboo tray with a dipping sauce, often accompanied by toppings like grated daikon radish or wasabi.

The popularity of Sanuki Udon has transcended its origins, with udon enthusiasts seeking out authentic shops in various parts of Japan and even internationally. 

Its straightforward yet immensely satisfying appeal continues to captivate food lovers, making Sanuki Udon a true cultural and culinary treasure that encapsulates the essence of Japanese comfort food.

Inaniwa Udon (稲庭うどん)

Inaniwa Udon stands out due to its thin, flat, and slightly chewy noodles. Crafted with precision, the dough is stretched and cut by hand using traditional techniques, giving each strand a distinctive character. 

The resulting noodles are thinner than typical udon but possess a satisfyingly hearty mouthfeel that sets them apart.

The creation of Inaniwa Udon involves a labor-intensive procedure that demands patience and skill. 

After kneading high-quality wheat flour, water, and salt into a firm dough, it’s rolled into sheets, cut into thin strips, and then individually stretched. 

This elongation process is what gives Inaniwa Udon its distinctive shape and chewiness. Once the noodles are shaped, they are sun-dried, contributing to their unique flavor profile.

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In terms of serving, Inaniwa Udon is often enjoyed in a variety of dishes, both hot and cold. 

The hot version is typically presented in a light and flavorful broth, accompanied by toppings like green onions, tempura, or kamaboko (fish cake). The cold rendition, known as “zaru udon,” is served chilled on a bamboo tray, with a dipping sauce that complements the noodles’ subtle taste.

Which is healthier: Soba or Ramen?

Soba and ramen both are extremely popular variants of Japanese noodles, but if we look at these from a health point of view, only one steals the show.

Soba noodles are extremely tasty. 

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Also, these are very versatile when it comes to cooking and using the toppings. But that is not all. Soba noodles are also extremely healthy, especially when compared to ramen. When you look at the nutritional value of soba noodles, you will find yourself replacing every block of ramen in your kitchen with soba.  

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The best Japanese noodles for you!

These were some of the various types of Japanese noodles that you can get. These various types of noodles are perfect for any type of mood. Try out these varieties of noodles and you shall find yourself indulging deeper into the world of Japanese noodles.

How to make Japanese Noodles at Home?

Here is a recipe for making Japanese noodles at home:


  • 7 ounces all-purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3.5 teaspoons kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
  • Potato starch/cornstarch (for rolling and dusting)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the salt and water until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the dough comes together.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into four equal pieces.
  6. Roll out each piece of dough into a thin sheet, about 1/8-inch thick.
  7. Cut the noodles into your desired thickness.
  8. Dust the noodles with potato starch or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking together.
  9. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or until al dente.
  10. Drain the noodles and serve immediately.

Japanese Noodles Types: FAQs

What are traditional Japanese noodles?

Wheat flour is used to make the thick and chewy Japanese noodles called Udon. Its round shape and chewy texture make it a favorite among children and adults. It is common to serve udon noodles in a noodle soup made from dashi, soy sauce, and mirin sauce, known as kake udon.

What’s a thin Japanese noodle?

A very thin, whitish and wheat based noodle known as Sōmen noodles. It is not unusual to serve them chilled in the summertime with dipping sauces although they can be used in soups and other hot dishes as well. Hiyamugi and udon noodles have similar properties to Sōmen noodles, but Sōmen noodles are mostly thin.

What are thick Japanese noodles called?

The thick noodles of Japan are called Udon. The noodles are made from wheat flour, and they are very popular in Japanese cuisine. Japanese consider the noodles to be a comfort food of sorts.

What are hibachi noodles called?

Yakisoba noodles are traditionally used for making Hibachi noodles. You can also use Ramen or Udon noodle soup if they are available.

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  1. Types of Japanese Beans

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