There are lots of varieties of noodle bowls. Usually, these Asian inspired dishes combine noodles with protein and vegetables in a flavorful broth with a range of different spices, pastes, and sauces. They are quick, simple, and highly satisfying.
Noodle bowls are the ultimate comfort food. There’s nothing more heartwarming than heaping your favorite kind of noodles up in a bowl and curling up in bed or in front of your latest box set binge. They are also super versatile too. Whether flash frying a favorite stir fry or falling in love with ramen, getting the lowdown on low mein or getting fresh with a noodle salad, there’s so many directions you can take when it comes to your noodle bowl.
One of the most important elements of your noodle bowl? The noodles. From springy to straight and flat and wide, we have a breakdown of the different ramen noodles out there. Once you have noodles in your head it’s time to build that bowl. Let’s take a look at a few fabulous twists on this Asian classic.
Building the perfect Asian noodle bowl
Noodles have been around for over four thousand years. The earliest hints of noodles come from the Han dynasty in China before they made their way to Japan in the 9th century and then became popular in Korea in the 14th century. Since then, the noodle industry has boomed into a wide range of cultures and become a modern-day staple for a delicious, quick, and easy dinner.
Building the best noodle bowl is all about picking your favorite kinds of noodle styles and loading them up with complimentary flavors. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to noodles, and you can be inspired by a range of recipes from across different Asian countries. Here are a few examples of different kinds of noodles and the dishes they adore.
Ramen - Simmering golden chewy noodles in a fragrant soup finished with a range of toppings. Ramen is one of the most well known noodle types and noodle bowls out there. One of the best things about ramen bowls is the fact that there is so much choice. The ramen noodle is made with an alkaline solution which gives it that chewy texture and the base of the soup can differ giving each kind of ramen dish a unique slant. Some of the most common kinds of ramen include shoyu ramen, shio ramen, miso ramen, and tonkotsu ramen.
Lo Mein - Thick egg wheat noodles tossed with anything from meat to seafood or veg and sauce. Lo Mein is a kind of noodle but it’s such a popular dish that it’s also grown to become the name of its signature dish too. The soft Lo Mein noodles soak up the sauce usually made from a blend of light and dark soy, sesame, oil, and sugar for that lip smacking salty sweetness.
Soba - nutty and dark buckwheat noodles from Japan can be served chilled or sizzling in style. Soba noodles are great in salads because they are earthy and awesome when chilled as they don’t collapse when it comes to texture. Soba is a great choice for those who prefer their noodles with less carbs. They are considered to be a healthier kind of noodle because they are full of good grains.
Udon - Springy and wide egg noodles, slurp them in a soup or salad. Udon are one of the thickest noodles out there in Japanese cuisine and they tend to be a little more subtle in taste compared to ramen noodles. Popular udon noodle bowls can include kake udon, yaki udon, tempura udon, and kitsune udon. Udon is sometimes a better choice for lighter and more delicate noodle bowls.
Want to know what else you can throw in your noodle bowl along with your rice noodles, soba noodles, or udon noodles? Here are some common ingredients making the grade.
Protein - whether juicy morsels of meat, fresh seafood, soft or fried tofu, or simply veggies, beef your noodle bowl up with your fave protein.
Soy sauce - briny and beautiful, soy sauce brings color and umami. Light soy is thin and salty so don’t let the name fool you. Dark soy is richer and sweeter and sometimes has notes of molasses. You can also get Tamari which is thicker than Japanese soy sauce and has a richer flavor. Tamari is also made without wheat making it good for gluten free diets.
Boiled eggs - soft boiled eggs with a creamy yellow yolk makes any noodle bowl a dream. You can also make marinated boiled eggs by placing them in a soy, mirin, sugar, garlic, and ginger liquid for a couple of hours.
Fresh ginger - lending a little warming heat to the dish, ginger is a joyful companion to noodles.
Rice vinegar - rice vinegar helps to round the flavors off in your blissful bowl by bringing a brightening flavor and lifting the dish to new heights.
Easy Noodle Bowl Recipes
Now you have raided your store cupboard and started dreaming of all those delicious noodle bowl dishes, it’s time to get creative. One of the best things about noodle bowls is how simple and satisfying they can be. We have eight easy noodle bowl recipes right for the next time you get that noodle craving. Feel free to use these recipe links for motivation, as mentioned - when it comes to noodle bowls you can get creative and make the dish your own. Switch out ingredients, pump up the spice, and go wild with toppings, this is noodle bowl bliss.
A favorite takeout for anyone who adores noodles, Pad Thai has that sweet and savory balance that makes us weak at the knees. With an iconic sauce whipped up from tamarind, fish sauce, onions, shallots, and brown sugar (and a pinch of chili if you can beat the heat), this dish is all about easy prep and taste perfection. Noodles, chicken (or veg), get topped with crunchy bean sprouts, peanuts, chopped green onions, and a zesty lime wedge to brighten the mood. Get the recipe here.
Pad See Ew
Chewy pan fried noodles with a rich molasses flavor and a dark and savory finish makes us fall in love with Pad See Ew. This dish celebrates the flat wide noodle and also brings together mushrooms and Chinese broccoli for a boost of texture. Pad See Ew is supremely easy to make too - mix up a soy based sauce and throw everything into a wok. You can add in meat or whatever protein you want - but be sure not to skip that scramble egg finish. Get the recipe here.
You don’t need to be drunk to destroy a bowl of drunken noodles. Tongue tingling, this noodle dish can go from pan to plate in minutes. This noodle bowl delight is a popular late night dish sold by street hawkers which is why it gets the golden title of drunken noodles. Also known as Pad Kee Mao, wide chewy noodles meet a sticky garlicky sauce of oyster, soy, and fish sauce. Throw in some hunks of chicken, chili, thai basil, and chopped green onions and you have a mouthwatering melody of magic. Get the recipe here.
One of the most popular noodle dishes in the world, who doesn’t adore ramen? This Japanese staple has been making waves for centuries, since it was first introduced to Japan by immigrants from China late in the 19th century. There are many different regional varieties of ramen - from miso ramen to shoyu ramen. Usually, this delicious dish calls for chewy yellow noodles made with kansui to be served in a thick rich broth and topped with all kinds of delights - from sliced chashu to nori, chopped green onions and boiled eggs, ramen is always a delight. Get the recipe here.
Creamy and delicious, tonkotsu is pure class. This ramen dish is made from a pork bone broth that is simmered for hours until all the collagen and minerals from the bones has seeped into the broth and the meat has melted away. It is full of umami flavoring, chewy noodles, fatty pork toppings, soft boiled eggs, and earthly scallions and crunchy bamboo shoots that add up to one decadent dish. While making tonkotsu from scratch can seem overwhelming, it’s actually pretty simple when you know how. Get the recipe here.
Chicken Noodle Bowl
Chicken and noodles go together like a dream. There is just something so satisfying about sesame chicken with a sweet tamari crunch, robust and earthy brown sugar, and a rounding splash of rice wine vinegar. Use rice noodles and top with scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds. As the recipe notes, you can even use the chicken marinade as the noodle sauce to make it absolutely fuss free. Get the recipe here.
Ginger Noodle Bowl
Take a heap of bright and fresh veggies, some nutty and dark soba noodles, and plenty of ginger for this heart-warming dish that will set you up for the rest of the day. Whether you want sweet red peppers, refreshing cucumber, crunchy carrot strips or anything else, you get to totally tweak this dish to suit your tastes. The broth is what really makes this a stunner - think a generous amount of ginger, garlic, your fave hearty stock, and plenty of scallions. You can top with peanuts, chili sauce, freshly chopped mint or cilantro, and sizzling toasted sesame oil. This dish is an absolute dream when the weather starts to turn and take on a chill or when you feel the need for a gingery immune boost. Get the recipe here.
Noodle bowls don’t all have to be about the broth as this noodle salad suggests with it’s stand out fresh flavors. We love noodle salads - lots of color, plenty of zest, and a joyful dressing that coats the whole thing in flavor. Soba noodles are perfect for salads because they are soft, quick, and just drink up any flavors that get added to them. Throw in some charred broccoli, carrots, peppers, cucumber, spinach, greens, or bright cherry tomatoes to get the party going. Of course, every salad needs a dressing and this one is suited to a sriracha sauce lifted by ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar before being lifted with lime and tempered with creamy mayo. Get the recipe here.
There are so many options out there for homemade noodle bowls. Whether you want a quick lunch, an easy end of day dinner, or a late night chow down that is healthy and comforting, you can’t go wrong with a noodle bowl. Grab your favorite Nona Lim noodles, your best broth, and whatever protein and toppings you have and get experimenting.
What are your favorite noodle bowl recipes? Are you all about a steaming ramen soup or do you prefer a fresh chilled noodle salad? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.