Tanmen vs Ramen : What is the Difference?
When it comes to Japanese noodle dishes, I think the 3 Japanese noodles, ramen, udon and (buckwheat) soba, are widely enjoyed not only in Japan but also around the world.
Those who have had these 3 noodle soups before probably kind of know the difference between them.
Among the 3 Japanese noodles, ramen is admittedly the most popular and comes in various different flavors. Because of this, it seems that some people think of “Tanmen (タンメン)” as a kind of ramen.
The Difference between Tanmen and Ramen noodle soups
In fact, tanmen looks like Shio (salt) ramen. However, tanmen is generally considered a noodle dish different from ramen. Hence, today let me explain the difference.
Tanmen is a Japanese noodle dish eaten mainly in the Kanto region around Tokyo.
Although it is similar in appearance to Shio ramen with plenty of vegetables, or “Yasai Ramen (野菜ラーメン)”, tanmen is different from the salt ramen in the cooking process.
The ingredients of tanmen, such as pork and vegetables (typically cabbage, carrot, onion, bean sprouts, Chinese chive, cloud ear mushroom and so on), are first stir-fried, then simmered with salt-based chicken broth in a wok.
After that, the hot soup with the simmered ingredients is poured onto the boiled noodles placed in a bowl.
Shio Ramen (塩ラーメン : Salt Ramen)
On the other hand, raman is the quintessential comfort food that is widely enjoyed throughout Japan.
It is said that Japanese Ramen has its roots in “Nankin Soba (南京そば)”, the noodle dish that was eaten in the chinatowns founded in Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, Hakodate and so on in the early Meiji period (Meiji : 1868 to 1912).
As I wrote above, ramen comes in many flavors and the typical ones include “Shoyu (醤油 : soy sauce)”, “Shio (塩 : salt)”, and “Miso (味噌 : soybean paste)”.
The making methods of these flavors of ramen are basically the same, but different from that of tanmen noodles.
The soup broth for ramen is made, separately from the ingredients (toppings), by seasoning the soup stock taken from pork bones, chicken bones, dried seafood and vegetables, with “Kaeshi (かえし)” sauce, such as “Shoyu-dare (醤油ダレ)”, “Miso-dare (味噌ダレ) or “Shio-dare (塩ダレ)”.
After that, the ramen broth is set in a bowl first, then boiled noodles and toppings are added.
As for the ingredient, the topping in Tanmen basically consists of stir-fried pork and vegetables as mentioned above, while ramen can contain a wider variety of foods as toppings, which include seaweed, roast pork slices, grilled seafood, and even fruits and ice cream.
Where to Eat Tanmen noodles in Tokyo
Mouko Tanmen (蒙古タンメン)Image : Wikipedia
You can enjoy tanmen noodles at many ramen shops and Chinese restaurants in the Kanto region around Tokyo.
Among those, I think the most popular ramen shop offering tanmen in Tokyo is “Mouko Tanmen Takamoto (蒙古タンメン中本)“.
Nakamoto’s tanmen features its spicy soup containing a large amount of “Ichimi Togarashi (一味唐辛子)” spice. The traditional Japanese spice mix, Ichimi Togarashi consists solely of ground red chili pepper.
(Reference pages of this article : Wikipedia ラーメン, タンメン )