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Sep 19, 2005 11:59 PM

what's the difference between udon noodles and soba noodles?

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what's the difference between udon noodles and soba noodles?

i know udon noodles are round and thick. i've had them before. are soba noodles thinner? do they taste different? what tastes better in soup?


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  1. Soba noodles are thinner and are made of buckwheat. Ramen is better than both for soup, IMHO.


    9 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup

      Soba noodles can be all buckwheat, buckwheat and flour, or buckwheat, flour, and yam. They are best served cold with tsuyu (soy base dipping sauce). I would not have them in a hot noodle soup.

      Udon are very thick soft wheat noodles. Best in soup, although they can be pan fried (yaki-udon). I once had a chawan-mushi (savory custard) that had udon noodles at the bottom, which was very good.

      I agree with Gary about ramen noodles, which are thin egg noodles. In fact, I even like the se asian rice noodles in soup better than udon.

      1. re: applehome

        soba and udon are both very good in soup. they are just different. soba has a chewier, nuttier texture than udon or most other noodles. i don't really eat a lot of udon because it is heavier, but soba is very tasty and refreshing.

        the noodle i prefer is somen, which is a thin vermicelli-like noodle.

        i don't think ramen is comparable with soba, udon or somen because the broth you use is completely different. if you have ramen broth, use ramen noodles. the broth used for somen/udon/soba is usually some combination of dashi and soy sauce, plus some mirin or sake to sweeten it. plus the toppings are different.

        1. re: cornflower

          I ate tons of udon in soup in Japan, because tofu udon was a filling menu standard that I could actually afford. I still love it.

        2. re: applehome

          I believe that ramen noodles normally don't contain egg. The yellowish color and toothsome texture comes from bicarbonate soda.

          Once I was in a soup noodle shop in Tokyo and when the counterman asked me if I wanted udon or soba, he qualified the soba as being a "Japanese" noodle. I've since wondered if soba is not considered to be a native Japanese noodle.

          1. re: mty

            I have a package of chinese ramen style noodles (not one of those fried, packaged ones) that say "egg noodle" on them - not to say that all ramen noodles have egg, but apparently some do.

            I don't get your point re soba not being Japanese if the guy indicated they were Japanese. In Tsuji's book, Japanese Cooking, a Simple Art, and in James Udesky's The Book of Soba, it is clear that soba making is an "ancient tradition and time honored craft", dating back over 300 years. Buckwheat has been cultivated in Japan for over 1100 years.

            Udon, on the other hand, may have more solid or recent ties to China. Chinese have a big wheat noodle - it is more flat than the typical Udon, but there is a large, flat Udon in Japan called Kishimen.

            1. re: applehome

              Traditionally ramen noodles contained kansui and not egg. Today, egg is sometimes used instead of (or in addition to) kansui to give its yellow color and flavor.

              Kansui originally was a special kind of water from Inner Mongolia that had a high alkaline concentration consisting of potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate and phosporic acid. Today the production of kansui is regulated under JAS law (JAS = Japanese Agricultural Standards).

              As applehome says, soba (unlike udon or ramen) has its roots as a Japanese noodle and not a Chinese noodle. Udon was first imported to Japan from China in the 6th century. Soba comes from the Edo period with the first historical mention from the mid-1600's in Tokyo.


              1. re: applehome

                it's my typo that confused you.

                the last sentence is wrong and doesn't fit into the context of the story. replace soba with udon because the guy stressed that soba is japanese thus implying that udon is not truly japanese.

                I don't believe that a Chinese version of a Japanese product that originally was based on a Chinese product can be representative of the Japanese product. Ramen dough is aged overnight to allow the soda to do its thing which is something that just isn't done with an egg pasta.

                1. re: applehome

                  Perhaps he wanted to make sure you knew it was not Chuuka (Chinese) Soba, which is a term often applied to ramen in Japan.

                  1. re: naka

                    No, this was definitely not a ramen shop and from the pictures I saw (the friendly man only spoke a couple of words of English and I only speak a couple of words in Japanese), the only options were between big fat white udon or skinny buckwheat soba.