Everyone Loves Japanese Noodles!
Forever iconic, there’s been a long love affair with noodles not only in Japan but across the world. While everyone loves ramen, here, we are taking a closer look at two of Japan’s other notorious noodles – Soba and Udon. From beautiful hot broth to chilled noodles with dipping sauce, poached eggs, and creamy sauces – there are so many intricate Japanese dishes that cement our adoration of the humble noodle.
It’s believed that Udon first showed up on the Japanese foodie scene back in the 700’s when it made its way over from China. It didn’t gain mouthwatering momentum until the 1600s though. Sobs started spiraling in popularity around the 1700s. Now, practically any Japanese restaurant you go to will probably have Udon or Soba on the list. Whether chowing down on Soba Maki or going crazy for Kake Udon, here’s all you need to know about these two types of noodles - Soba vs Udon.
The Difference Between Soba & Udon
Flour – Udon uses wheat flour for that dense and dreamy thick finish and chewy texture whereas Soba celebrates buckwheat flour with its slightly grainier texture.
Color – Udon rocks that glossy white coloring whereas Soba is darker (often a brown color or grey).
Taste – Udon is the milder noodle which makes it pretty versatile when it comes to adding it to your favorite Japanese dish. Soba has its own taste which is a little nutty. This is why Soba is often best served in simple light dishes that don’t go wild on rich flavors.
Thickness – Udon noodles come in different varieties but they tend to be thicker and wider than Soba.
Which is Healthier, Udon or Soba?
With its wholegrain like appearance and buckwheat heavy base, Soba is the healthier choice when it comes to your Asian noodle game. This is because buckwheat is lower in carbohydrates and lower in calories so it’s a good choice for those trying to cut back. Buckwheat also has plenty of health benefit boosting properties and is chock full of nutrients and good grains to keep your energy levels riding high. For those who are looking for gluten-free solutions, there are lots of Soba varieties lining the grocery stores without gluten. That’s not to say that Udon is unhealthy. In fact, this noodle is super easy on the stomach and an awesome ingredient for those who adore clean and easy eating.
Soba are darker in color than your usual noodle and this is because they are crafted from buckwheat flour. They are thin noodles and have a similar appearance to spaghetti pasta. Soba noodles have a nutty flavor and earthy taste which makes them an awesome addition to salads. Cold soba is delicious. They can also be tasty hot and are great in soups and when whipped up in a wok with everything from wilted bok choi to a fresh fried egg. People love Soba because it’s one of the healthiest noodle choices. Take a look at some of the most loved Soba dishes…
The sizzling Japanese cuisine stir-fried noodle dish is an instant crowd-pleaser. Celebrated as being a moreish street food, buckwheat soba noodles are fried up with your choice of veggies, meat, or seafood and served with a signature tangy style Worcestershire sauce.
Chilled Soba noodles are divine – especially on sweltering summer days or when you want a quick fix dine-and-dash lunch. Those nutty healthy Soba noodles are cooked and chilled and served up with a dipping sauce blend of dashi stock, soy sauce, and mirin. Magic.
An easy delight to chase away last night’s whisky or to pull you up when energy levels are low, Kake Soba is sublime. This simple hot soup dish smacks of rich umami tastes and is made by simply pouring the warm broth over boiled Soba noodles. The stock is usually made with dried bonito flakes, kelp, and nioboshi although there are tons of different versions out there too.
Mellow and nutty sweet, tempura Soba serves up noodles with a classic broth and tops it with your fave tempura-battered bites. Many people love this dish with tiger prawns although tofu tempura or aubergine brings its own satisfying style.
Beautiful and heartwarming buckwheat noodle soup satisfies those late-night cravings with Kitsune Soba. A broth of kelp, dried kombu, or mushrooms that bursts with flavor swims around the Soba noodles and the whole bowl is topped with light and sweet fried tofu.
Soup. Check. Buckwheat noodles. Check. Fried egg. Check. This is all you need for the famed New Years eve dish of Tsukimi Soba. Exactly as easy as it sounds, your dreamy dashi and soy sauce broth is poured over noodles (maybe add some carrots and green onions) before being topped with a fried egg.
Grated yam meets buckwheat noodles in this health busting dish from the old country. With a simple Soba soup base, grated yam, a hint of leek, and lots of noodles, Yamakake Soba has all the cozy charm you need to warm up a chilly eve.
Another fragrant chilled soup for an easy breezy day, Oroshi Soba uses some of your fave inspired Japanese ingredients. Daikon radish, nori, bonito flakes, ginger, green onion, and shitake mushrooms make this a standout supper.
Dense and delicious, Udon noodles know how to pack a punch. Made from kneading together wheat flour, salt, and water into a dough, these noodles can be found fresh or dried and can be slurped hot or cold. Udon noodles are thick and chewy which makes them an awesome choice for those wanting first cut comfort noodles. They go great in noodle soup as they are hefty enough to hold their own in broth and boiling water. Take a look at some of the most loved Udon noodle dishes
A simple udon soup makes the most of these tender tasty Udon noodles. Kake Udon is a cupboard staple – made from the kekejiru stock of dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin, the noodles are served up in the simmering broth fragranced with freshly grated ginger and green onions.
A belly buster, Yaki Udon stir-fries up the lush and glossy Udon noodles with whichever vegetables and protein you prefer. The Udon noodles invites the savory soy and mirin sauce to cling to it and the result is a highly satisfying slurp-worthy dish. Delicious with bamboo shoots, wilted greens, and mushrooms.
With a name that translates to fox noodles, this fabulous dish is definitely the stuff of fables. Plump Udon noodles are served in a simmering soup stock of mirin, dashi, and soy and topped with whisper-thin deep-fried tofu triangles.
Thick Udon noodles and an umami-rich dashi soup sprinkled with tempura flakes and a hint of seaweed and slices of kamaboko. There’s so much to love about this mythology rich dish. You can slurp this steaming hot or fall in love with the chilled version too.
This savory hot broth dish comes stuffed with glossy gorgeous Udon noodles and crispy hunks of tempura fried shrimp or vegetables depending on your preference. The broth pulls on the holy trinity of mirin, soya sauce, and dashi and you can amp up the dark salty flavor by upping the soy sauce.
With the word stamina in the title, this is definitely the dish you need when you feel like you are running out of steam. Stamina Udon is heavenly, hearty, and delicious. Udon noodles come served up with protein, vegetables, raw eggs, and a tsuyu dipping sauce on the side.
Fragrant spiced Japanese curry meets the king of noodles in this mash-up dish that will have your mouth watering just thinking about it. The thick and chewy Udon noodle is served in a sauce made from dashi stock and curry roux and whatever veggies or protein you prefer. Chopped onion and scallions also bring an added depth of savory flavor to this late-night chow down.
For those summer days when soup is off the menu, chilled Zaru Udon is here to satiate all your cravings. Udon noodles are served cold in a mentsuyu soup base and garnished with everything from sesame seeds to nori, wasabi paste, and daikon.
Learn how to make Kake Udon in this easy step by step recipe. Whether working late or wanting a wholesome bowl of something beautiful, this noodle dish is sure to become your latest obsession. Make it simple by perusing Nona’s noodle page and picking fresh texture-rich easy cook noodles.
- 2 packs of noodles (Udon – cooked to package specifications)
- 4 cups dashi
- 2 tablespoons of sake
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- Grated ginger (one teaspoon)
- Chopped green onion
- Salt to taste
- Mix the dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and salt in a pan.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes
- Ladle over bowls of cooked Udon
- Garnish with green onion and ginger and whatever Japanese spice and toppings you like
Are you all about the Udon or do you prefer the healthy style of Soba instead or are you still totally committed to your ramen noodles? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and let us know which dishes you are dreaming of.