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The Differences Between Soba, Udon, and Ramen Noodles

Billy Blatty

Billy Blatty, a Louisiana-based restaurateur, owns Belle’s Diner, Ohm Lounge, Barcadia, Sofia, and Lucky Foo’s. A self-described foodie, Billy Blatty enjoys all types of fare, but he is particularly fond of dishes from Southeast Asia and Japan.

Most people think of ramen noodles when they picture the typical Japanese noodle. However, there are several noodle types, most notably soba and udon noodles. Udon noodles are the thickest of the three and are readily seen both in and out of Japan. They are made from wheat flour and are thick enough that they don’t need extra toppings to create a filling dish. Udon can be eaten both hot and cold and work well with a variety of broths and proteins.

Soba noodles, on the other hand, are primarily made from buckwheat. This gives soba noodles a strong flavor. Similar to udon noodles, soba noodles can be served either hot in a soup or cold with a side of dipping sauce. The dense nature of these noodles makes them perfect for absorbing broth and other sauces. Since soba noodles are made from buckwheat, they have a distinctive brown color that sets them apart from ramen noodles, even though they have a similar thickness.

Finally, there are ramen noodles. Featuring the same thickness as soba noodles, they are wheat-based and have a darker yellow color to them. Part of the reason ramen noodles have become so popular is that they pair with a variety of broths. Shoyu, a soy sauce-based broth, and shio, a salt-based broth, are the most popular; however, ramen works well with curry broths and pork-bone-based broths as well.

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