There's nothing better than a hot cup of noodle soup when you're feeling out of it. Or maybe a big bowl of it when it's extremely cold out. However, there's no reason to crack open a boring chicken soup from a can to satisfy your craving. Pho and ramen are two hearty, flavorful noodle soup bowls originating from Asia. These bowls will fill you up and hit your craving all in one slurp. Their flavorful broth, rich noodles, and range of toppings take your average chicken noodle soup to the next level. On the surface they look quite similar but they're quite different than one may think.

Where They Come From

soup, vegetable, pho, broth
Keni Lin

Although pho (pictured above) and ramen can be confused for one another because of their similarities, they're quite different. For starters, they each originate from a different country in Asia. Pho originates from Vietnam and is considered to be its national dish. The dish came about during the late 1970s after the fall of Saigon. Ramen, on the other hand, was sought to be a Chinese soup brought to Japan in the nineteenth century where it flourished. 

Digging Deeper into the Bowl

ramen, fish, meat, vegetable, pork, seafood, egg
Lucy Rubin

You may be craving ramen but what you really mean is pho, so how can you tell the difference next time you order it? Simple, its appearance. Ramen and pho are quite different in many aspects but the main is in their appearance. Ramen (shown above) has a more picturesque aspect. One of the main things to differentiate the two is that ramen bowls include a soft boiled egg and narutomaki; which you might've seen while scrolling  through emojis. Narutomaki is the white and pink fish cake which mimics the texture of lobster meat or crab. Ramen also includes a sheet of nori, aka seaweed, which is absent from pho. Ramen uses noodles made of wheat which make them slightly heartier than pho's usage of thin rice noodles.

Broth 101

pho, soup, vegetable
Scott Harrington

Apart from what's on the surface, pho broth and ramen broth are not the same. Pho is usually served in beef broth with loads of scallions, cilantro, and bean sprouts like the bowl pictured above. Ramen broth, on the other hand, is more versatile. The most common broth is tonkotsu which is made out of pork bone. However, its versatility has allowed for an array of dishes to be made. Shoyu ramen is made from soy sauce, shio is a sea salt-based broth, and miso is evidently made using miso paste.

Whether you prefer to stick with the usual or venture out and try new dishes, there's a noodle soup bowl for everyone. If you're feeling more authentic, then a traditional pho bowl with lots of lime and cilantro is the one for you. If you prefer a mountain of toppings with diverse broth choices then ramen is your best bet. Although many people mix the two up, their distinct flavors and appearances can help you decide which you'll enjoy more. At the end of the day, they're both PHOnomenal!