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Soba vs Ramen: 6 Ways to Improve Your Understanding of These Japanese Classics


The biggest difference is… soba is made from buckwheat flour, and ramen is made from wheat flour.

Soba soup has a little bit of sweetness compared to ramen soup.

Because you use mirin in the soup of soba noodles.

The broth of soba has a traditional Japanese taste.

It is made of kelp and bonito,

While ramen broth is made from chicken, pork, some seafood, and some vegetables.

1. If you like ramen, you will like soba

The day I was 15 years old, my dad picked me up from my middle school. It was a snowy day.

In the car, I told him I failed the entrance exam for a private high school.

My dad said,

 "If you can't go to any high school, let's open a soba restaurant."

I still remember that, dad.

2. Soba is Obi-Wan Kenobi and ramen is Luke Skywalker

Do you know why? Because ramen has so many influences from soba.

Soba was the most popular noodle in Tokyo for a long time before ramen became popular.

When ramen’s popularity caught up to soba’s, a lot of soba chefs changed their careers,

And became ramen chefs. 

Then they brought soba elements into ramen.

One example is…

3. Ramen has nori seaweed because soba has it

Since nori was a common topping of soba noodles,

These chefs brought their distinct soba topping over to their ramen creations. 

Wakame is another seaweed. It is also a common topping for hot soba and ramen.

Another similarity is...

4. Soba and ramen both have fish cakes

A fish cake is formed by solidifying fish paste into different shapes.

Soba has kamaboko, and ramen has narutomaki.

They are both made by steaming fish paste.

5. Soba and ramen has green onions

Chopped green onions add some spiciness to these noodles.

This is one of the soba influences on ramen.

What about the differences between soba and ramen?

Keep reading and you will find out…

6. Soba noodles are dense while ramen noodles are chewy

Soba noodles are  made by kneading buckwheat flour and water,

While ramen noodles are made by kneading wheat flour, kansui, and water.

Do you know why these noodles’ textures are different?

It is because of kansui.

Kansui is an alkaline solution (usually sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate).

Kansui makes noodles...

Chewy, 

Yellow,

And kansui gives it its distinct ramen noodle flavor.

7. Soba noodles have a grey color while ramen noodles have a yellowish color

Now, you know the reason why ramen noodles have a yellowish color.

What about soba noodles? They have a grey color. Because…

When you are milling buckwheat into flour,

You don’t get rid of the husk.

Buckwheat husks have a grey color.

So the grey color of soba noodles comes from the buckwheat husks.

8. Soba soup and ramen soup taste very different

Soup of soba is made from soup stock, soy sauce, and mirin. Soup stock is made of water and a combination of kelp, bonito, or dried sardines.

There are two different types of soba soup.

1. One is Kanto style and the other is Kansai style.

Kanto style soup has a brownish translucent color, and Kansai style soup has a yellowish transparente color.

The reason why they have different colors is the amount of soy sauce.

Kanto style soup uses more soy sauce than Kansai style.

2. Kanto and Kansai are names of regions

Kanto region is in the east part of Japan and the capital of Japan, Tokyo, is located there.

The Kansai region is in the west part of Japan and Osaka and Kyoto are located there.

What about ramen?

3. Ramen soup has 4 primary types. Shoyu, miso, tonkotsu, and shio

Ramen soup is made up of broth, sauce, and seasoning oil.

Ramen broth is made of  water and a combination of pork bone, beef bone, chicken, bonito, dried sardines, konbu (kelp), mushroom, or scallops.

4. The purpose of sauce(tare) is to give the soup a salty taste

There are many types of tare - soy sauce tare, salt tare, and miso tare.

Soy sauce tare is in a liquid form, miso tare is a paste, and salt tare is a powder.

What about the toppings of soba and ramen?

9. Some toppings and condiments of soba and ramen are different

We talked about the toppings that soba and ramen both share.

They are nori, wakame, fish cakes, and green onions.

But there are some toppings that are unique to each.

Keep reading and you will find out…

1. Soba has wasabi, deep fried dough, grated mountain yam, or pickled plum on it

Ginger and myoga radish are other common toppings for soba.

Protein topping option is usually poultry.

LIke chicken and duck.

I have never seen pork and beef as soba toppings.

Wasabi
Deep fried dough
Grated mountain yam
Pickled plum

 

[infographic of ramen toppings and condiments]

2. Ramen has chashu, ajitama, menma, corn, bean sprout or spinach on it.

Ramen has more variety of toppings compared to soba noodles.

3. Kamaboko vs Narutomaki

It is a small difference but kamaboko and narutomaki are different kinds of fish cakes so,

Remember:

Soba has kamaboko and ramen has naruto.

Due to Covid, a lot of good ramen restaurants have closed

It makes me feel very angry.

I used to eat ramen out frequently,

But in this situation, 

Ramen shops have started to shorten the hours, limit the number of customers, or even closed their shops.

It has affected the industry so much.

I am afraid good ramen will be gone

But meanwhile, you still can enjoy ramen in the comfort of your own home.

Here are some of my recommendations for ramen lovers.

1. Sapporo Ichiban Shio Flavor

MY THOUGHTS OVERALL ★★★★☆

In truth, Sapporo Ichiban delivers a good quality shio ramen experience.

Actually, it is very difficult to find good shio ramen.

Do you know why?

Because it is very difficult to make it since it is very simple.

There are many good shoyu and miso flavored instant noodles out there.

But I feel specifically, the shio flavor market is monopolized by Sapporo Ichiban.

Think about this for a moment having good shio ramen for your dinner with your favorite ramen toppings.

Now, you want some, don’t you?

2. Nissin Raoh Shoyu Flavor

MY THOUGHTS OVERALL ★★★★★

It is nearly impossible to make restaurant quality noodles at home without the right tools and equipment.

How can you beat that?

Using Raoh’s shoyu flavour will help you achieve this easily. This is top-notch ramen hands down!

One pinnacle of instant noodles is the soy sauce flavor. It is expensive compared to regular ones but let me tell you, it deserves every single penny.

In a nutshell, I loved every bit of it.

...And I am sure you will too.

3. The problem here is that no toppings come with these packets.

Here are some topping options and recipes for you.


Green onion
Nori

4. Have you ever faced these issues...

A lack of large, high-quality soup bowl sets at home?

Are you still struggling with...

😢 ...small bowls that aren’t large enough for soups, noodles and toppings.

😢 ...spillage every time you eat out of your bowl.

😢 ...low-quality tableware and utensils that don’t compliment your food.

Look no further, 

Our best-selling bowls are here to fix all the issues you face with small, inefficient tableware.

After struggling with spillage and leakage during dinner time, 

We decided to introduce APEX S.K’s large soup bowls to the market.

Want to hear why some people absolutely love our ramen bowls?

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Check our sets on Amazon..

   

About the Author

Kei is a self-proclaimed ramen lover, blog writer and founder of "Apex S.K. Japanese tableware".

"I am from Ibaraki, Japan.

Ramen is great! It can bring you a sense of happiness and satisfaction that no other food can. I have been eating ramen for 30 years.

If there is no ramen, my life would be miserable.

Ten years ago, I worked as an office worker. The job was really stressful - excessive working hours, low wages, unpaid overtime work, and constantly being yelled at by my boss.

I was new and alone, no girlfriend, no friends, and felt very lonely.

My only oasis was the ramen shop near the office. For me, the ramen chef there was literally an angel. I saw a halo on his head. (No joke)

Tonkotsu shoyu ramen was my all-time favorite. He made ramen with broth chock-full of umami flavor, nice chewy handmade noodles, and tender chashu.

My greatest dream is connect people with ramen through my blog. I want to share a lot of interesting and funny stories and ramen trivia with you.

Knowing more about ramen can help you appreciate your ramen and make it taste extra delicious."


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