Could you even imagine Japanese cuisine without noodles? I mean, they're basically the soft, doughy foundation upon which so many delicious dishes are built. We all know college students be livin' that ramen life, but why not expand your knowledge of the nood? I'm here to discuss eight of the most popular Japanese noodles, so you can order new foods from your local Japanese eatery with confidence. 


ramen, soup, vegetable, noodle, pasta, broth
Giovanni Crystal

Ey, it's ya boy, Ramen, here to help you not starve on a college budget. Probably originating in China and carried over through trade, ramen is now a big-shot in Japan and comes in every form from cheap instant stuff to $180 a serving dishes. With only four key ingredients—wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui (a type of mineral water that lends them a yellowish hue and firm texture)—these noodles are the foundation of so many glorious dishes. 

Suggested Dish: Tan-Men Ramen 


Allysha To

Similar to ramen noodles, udon noodles are made from wheat, but are thicker and chewier than the other noodle varieties. They are prepared in both hot and cold dishes, so you can enjoy them any time you're feelin' it. They are among the more common of the Japanese noodles, so don't be shy next time you see them on the menu.

Suggested Dish: Nabeyaki Udon


Soba is made from buckwheat flour, which is what gives them their characteristic brownish coloring. However, some restaurants add wheat flour to make them less brittle, so that's something you should keep tabs on. Roughly the same shape and size as spaghetti, soba is often served chilled with a dipping sauce, but because this noodle is super adaptable, feel free to go wild.

Suggested Dish: Toshikoshi Soba


You probably know these guys as the "miracle noodle," but their more traditional name is Shirataki, a thin, translucent, slightly gelatinous noodle made from the konjac yam. With pretty much zero calories and hella fiber, they're a spectacular alternative for those who live the pasta life but also wanna stick to those fitness goals. Because they're kinda bland, you can throw them in almost anything. Slurp freely, my friends.

Suggested Dish: Shirataki Pizza Crust (yes, you read that right) or Simple Sesame Noodles


Harusame is actually more known by the term "glass noodle," but don't worry about ingesting these—the nickname comes from their thin, transparent appearance. They're made from starches like yams, potatoes, or mung beans, and are typically used to add a bit of texture to salads and side dishes such as summer rolls for a light, refreshing addition to your meal.

Suggested Dish: Homemade Salad Rolls


Very similar to udon, sōmen is the thinnest of all the Japanese noodles, generally clocking in at 1.3 mm in diameter. They're made from wheat and water, stretched out to their limits, then coated in oil for more flavor. A favorite in the summer, you'll usually find them in a cold salad or riding solo with a flavorful dipping sauce. They're great for when you're trying to beat the heat!

An insanely fun tradition around these noodles is nagashi-somen, where the noodles are placed in water flowing down a bamboo chute and are fished out with chopsticks. Don't let those noods go by!

Suggested Dish: Cold Asian Noodles with Cucumber


Basically the same as sōmen, Hiyamugi are just slightly thicker at 1.2 to 1.7 mm wide. They also are sometimes colored with pinks and greens, making them #aesthetic if you want to impress your guests. Like sōmen, these Japanese noodles are generally served cold with dipping sauce, so they'll effortlessly fit into your lazy college lifestyle. 

Suggested Dish: Hiyamugi Noodles with Japanese Pickles


Low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free, tokoroten noodles are your jelly-like friend in terms of livin' that healthy life. Made from the gelatin from a seaweed called tengusa, tokoroten is enjoyed in the summer with soy sauce, but is also sometimes enjoyed with a sweeter sauce such as kuromitsu, a dark syrup made with brown sugar. Either way, you're sure to fall in love with these squishy boys.

Suggested Dish: Kanten and Red Bean with Kuromitsu

Whether you're new to the Japanese noodle scene or are a seasoned slurper, there are endless combinations and dishes to try all seasons of the year. Who says they'll get bored of noodles? Not me, that's for sure. #NoodsForLife.