The Difference: Zaru Soba vs. Mori Soba vs. Seiro Soba

When it comes to buckwheat noodles that are served cold or chilled, there are three major types in Japan, which are “Zaru Soba (ざるそば)”, “Mori Soba (もりそば)”, and “Seiro Soba (せいろそば)”.

You may have heard of these traditional Japanese soba dishes, but do you know the difference between them?

Zaru Soba vs. Mori Soba vs. Seiro Soba

For the unfamiliar with cold soba dishes, today, let me explain how Zaru Soba, Mori Soba, and Seiro Soba differ from one another.

Zaru Soba vs. Seiro Soba

Zaru Soba (ざるそば)Zaru Soba

Actually, “Zaru (ざる)” and “Seiro (せいろ)” are the names of traditional Japanese cooking utensils. 

Zaru is a round concave-shaped basket made with thin strips of bamboo. Meanwhile, Seiro is a wooden steamer used in Japanese and Chinese cuisines.

In general, the soba noodles piled on the Zaru basket are called Zaru Soba, while Seiro Soba refers to the soba served on the Seiro steamer.

Seiro Soba (せいろそば)Seiro Soba

The names of Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba originally derive from the names of cooking utensils used for serving soba noodles.

However, in modern times, some soba restaurants call the soba noodles piled on the Seiro steamer Zaru Soba, and some others offer the soba dish named Seiro Soba using the Zaru basket.

Zaru Soba vs. Mori Soba

Zaru Soba with Shredded Nori Seaweed

The origin of soba restaurants dates back to the Kanbun era (1661-1673).

People at the time ate soba noodles dipping in a soy sauce-based sauce like present Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba.

After that, the eating manner called “Bukkake (ぶっかけ)” was born where soba noodles were eaten with soy sauce-based broth poured onto them. 

Since the Bukkake method appeared and spread in society, the original way of eating soba was called “Mori (もり)” to distinguish it from the Bukkake manner.

The word Mori means piling something, and in modern times, Zaru Soba and Seiro Soba are basically the same things as Mori Soba. 

However, unlike Mori Soba, the soba noodles for Zaru Soba are definitely topped with shredded nori (seaweed).

(Reference Page: そばの散歩道)


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

2 Responses

  1. Hello
    Thank you for this blog. It helped understand soba a lot better.

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