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.

         Further Reading:

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.

Noodles

Udon vs ramen noodles, how are they different? Well, 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.

Toppings

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

Broth

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. Is ramen or udon healthier? 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Udon vs Ramen: How Are They Sold?

Udon

Udon noodles are sold in both dried and frozen states. While it takes about 15 minutes to boil dried udon noodles, you only need 45 to 60 seconds to cook frozen udon. What’s more, you can also use a microwave to cook frozen udon noodles and the process usually lasts for 3 minutes. This is the reason why frozen udon is more commonly used. In order to buy frozen udon, you can go to Japanese, Korean, and Chinese supermarkets in your country.

udon vs ramen

Udon’s dried state

Udon’s frozen state

Ramen

Unlike udon, ramen noodles are just sold in the dried state. However, it’s more convenient to cook ramen than udon. You only need to spend 3 minutes cooking ramen. This kind of noodles can be purchased in all the supermarkets or grocery stores in North America.

Unlike udon, ramen noodles are just sold in the dried state.

2. Are There Different Manners For Eating Ramen And Udon?

The answer is No. In terms of eating manners, udon vs ramen are the same. However, the sound of slurping these noodles is different. When people eat udon, they tend to eat less noisily. It sounds like zuuuuu zuuuu…(loud) when eating ramen, but when you eat udon the slurping sound is like zozo zozo…(quiet).

3. Udon vs Ramen: Which One Is More Popular In Japan?

In Japan, Ramen is more popular than Udon, but Japanese people love both of them. If you search for the number of ramen restaurants in Japan, the figure is around 30,600, whereas there are 24,000 udon restaurants.

4. How To Order Udon And Ramen In Japan?

4.1. How to order Udon

At a self-service udon restaurant

Follow these steps to order udon:

  • Say how much udon you want to eat at the entrance. You will get udon noodles and a bowl there
  • Put your udon toppings on a plate by yourself
  • Complete the payment
  • Heat the udon in a boiling pot
  • Pour soup in a big pot on your udon
  • Put seasoning on
  • Eat it at the table
  • Put the bowl and other utensils back to the return table

At a semi-self service udon restaurant

At a semi-self udon restaurant, chefs heat noodles up and pour soup for you.

At a cashier

After you’ve taken a seat at the counter, talk directly with the chef to place your order. You’ll pay at the register after you’ve finished eating. Remember to bring your receipt to the register if they give you one while you’re eating.

4.2. How to order Ramen

At a vending machine

In front of Japanese ramen restaurants, you’ll see ticket machines which you use to buy a ticket for ramen and toppings. After entering the restaurant and having a seat, you hand the ticket to the chefs and they will start preparing your order.

At a cashier

You can order ramen in the same way as in a udon restaurant that has a cashier.

5. Are The Prices Of Udon And Ramen Different?

Yes, their prices are different. In Japan, udon is cheaper than ramen. Udon costs 500 yen ($5 USD), but ramen’s price is around 800 yen ($8 USD).

6. Why Is Ramen More Expensive?

There are three main reasons. Firstly, ramen broth requires more ingredients, making ramen broth costs more. Secondly, it takes a lot more time to boil the ramen ingredients in order to make the broth so that gas costs more.

Conclusion

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.