Ramen vs Chuka Soba vs Shina Soba: What’s the Difference?
There are three different names for the shops that offer Ramen noodles in Japan. They are Ramen-Ya (ラーメン屋), Chuka Soba-Ya (中華そば屋), and Shina Soba-Ya (支那そば屋).
As you might already know, the last word in each name, Ya (屋), is the Japanese suffix for “shop” in English. So Ramen-Ya is the shop that serves Ramen noodles.
As you can easily guess, the other two shops mainly offer Chuka Soba (中華そば) and Shina Soba (支那そば), but how do the two dishes differ from Ramen noodle soup?
Ramen vs. Chuka Soba vs. Shina Soba
To get straight to the point, Ramen, Chuka Soba, and Shina Soba are all the same. The reason why the three different names for Ramen shops exist in Japan derives from the difference in the period when each originated.
The origin of Japanese Ramen dates back to the early Meiji period (Meiji: 1868 to 1912), when the present Ramen was called Nankin Soba (南京そば).
After that, in the middle Meiji period, the noodle soup came to be called Shina Soba (支那そば), and then after World War 2, its name was changed to Chuka Soba (中華そば).
It was after the release (1958) of the world’s first successful instant ramen, Nissin Chicken Ramen, that Chuka Soba began to be called Ramen.
As for the words Shina (支那) and Chuka (中華), both have the meaning China or Chinese, but Shina Soba and Chuka Soba generally refer to Japanese Ramen noodles.
(Reference Page: Shinyokohama Ramen Museum )