Udon Vs Ramen: Which Kind Of Japanese Noodles Would You Choose?

Japanese cuisine is famous for noodles. In major cities in Japan, there are many restaurants and food stores which serve a wide variety of traditional noodles such as soba, ramen, udon, somen, shirataki, to name but a few. However, with each kind of noodles, there are a number of dishes that can be difficult to be distinguished. How do you know the difference between udon vs ramen? Let’s learn and next time when traveling to Japan, pick out your favorite noodles.

Difference Between Udon And Ramen

1. What Is Udon?

The first question that crosses one’s mind is certainly “What is udon?” Udon is made from wheat flour. The noodles are thick and have a light color; the taste is quite bold so that it is no need to add any ingredients. Its broth is called “kakejiru” made of soy sauce, mirin and dashi. Many types of udon are often served in a clean and simple fashion without adding any amount of toppings such as Kake udon, Kamaage udon or Curry udon. Others are served with a variety of toppings like shredded scallions, tempura, fried tofu, the list goes on and on.

udon vs ramen

Udon is made from wheat flour. The noodles are thick and have a light color.

There are many dishes of udon often divided into hot and cold udon. Hot udon varies from Kitsune udon (topping is aburaage – deeply fried tofu twice), Tanuki udon (with topping of tenkasu – crunchy deep-fried batter), Tsukimi udon (topping is raw egg dipped in hot broth), to name but a few. Cold udon includes Hadaka udon (simple and clean, no toppings), Bukkake udon (served in broth with thick dashi), …

Udon is such a delicious dish that the demand has been high for many years in many countries not only in Japan.

2. What Is Ramen?

So what is ramen? Ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is served in meat broth whom flavor is soy sauce and miso. The toppings are eggs, sliced pork, dried seaweed,…

Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour, water, salt, and kansui. Kansui is the exclusive ingredient in ramen noodles which originated from Inner Mongolia. It is the factor behind the yellowish color and the firm texture of the noodles.

udon vs ramen

Ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is served in meat broth whom flavor is soy sauce and miso.

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There are four main types of ramen dish including Soyu ramen (soy sauce ramen with clear brownish broth, plenty of soy sauce), Kare ramen (cooked in curry soup), Shio ramen (the oldest type which has pale and yellowish broth and combination of vegetables, seaweed, chicken and fish), and Miso ramen (very unique with broth that combines miso soup and chicken or fish soup; the taste is slightly sweet, very robust and tangy; the toppings are varied: butter and corn, onions, pork, cabbage,…).

Ramen is also popular all over Asia.

3. Difference Between Udon Vs Ramen

One similar feature of udon and ramen is that they can be served in a hot or cold dish and their flavor varies in dishes and regions they come from.

However, the difference between ramen and udon is very distinctive so it is quite easy to distinguish between those two.


The ramen noodles (because of having kansui as an ingredient) are much more yellowish than the udon ones, whereas the udon noodles are thicker than their counterparts. One special thing is that udon noodles are always veggie as it is made of wheat flour only. In contrast, the ramen noodles may not be for vegetarians as it can be made from egg instead of kansui.

Ramen noodles are either curry or straight while udon noodles are often straight.


As regards of toppings, ramen dishes have many toppings as the noodles are slender. However, the udon dishes are kept clean and so simple with just little sliced onions. Some common toppings of udon are mostly made of seafood such as tempura, kamaboko, fish cake,…. By contrast, toppings of ramen are so heavy (any herein depending on which type of ramen) like pork, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), boiled eggs, chicken meatballs, butter, and so on.

udon vs ramen

The difference between ramen and udon is very distinctive


The broth of udon vs ramen is quite also distinguishable. Usually, the udon’s broth is made of light soy sauce or curry, while ramen’s broth is made of pork bone and miso soup. This may be the reason why the flavor of udon is subtler than that of ramen which imbibes its broth.

The Healthier Option

If someone likes both of these noodles, the nutrition fact should be considered to choose which one to eat. Udon vs ramen, which one is better for your health? This is a difficult question as it depends on how the noodles are cooked.

If it is instant noodles bought from a supermarket, it may contain a high level of sodium and calories which is less healthy than homemade ramen. Udon made with fresh ingredients may be a better option. In other words, it actually depends on the ingredients used to cook ramen or udon.


So udon vs ramen, which one is your favorite? After all, both of noodles are delicious and worth trying. They are always in the list of popular Japanese noodles and favored by many culinary devotees all over the world.

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.