Tanmen vs Ramen: What is the Difference?

When it comes to Japanese noodle soups, Ramen, Udon, and Soba are not just staple foods in Japan, but in recent years, these are also widely enjoyed in many countries around the world.

Those who have experienced these Japanese noodle dishes before probably kind of know the difference between them. 

Among them, Ramen is admittedly the most popular and comes in various flavors and numerous varieties. Because of that, it seems some people think of “Tan-Men (タンメン)” as a variety of Ramen.

Tanmen vs Ramen noodle soups

In fact, Tanmen looks like Shio (salt-based) Ramen. However, it is generally considered a noodle soup dish different from Ramen.

And today, let me explain how these Japanese noodles differ from each other.

Tanmen (タンメン)


Tanmen is a Japanese noodle soup that is 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.

In that, ingredients, such as pork and vegetables, are first stir-fried in a wok, and then salt-based chicken broth is added and simmered. And lastly, the soup is poured into a bowl of boiled noodles.

By the way, typical vegetables prepared for Tanmen are cabbage, carrots, onions, bean sprouts, Chinese chives, and cloud ear mushrooms.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Shio Ramen

On the other hand, Raman is the quintessential Japanese noodle dish that is widely enjoyed throughout Japan.

Ramen has its roots in “Nankin Soba (南京そば)”, a noodle soup 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 previously mentioned, unlike Tanmen, Ramen comes in so many varieties, and representative flavors include “Shoyu (醤油: soy sauce)”, “Shio (塩: salt)”, and “Miso (味噌: fermented soybean paste)”. 

The broth is made by blending soup stock made from ingredients, such as pork bones, chicken bones, seafood, and vegetables, with “Kaeshi (かえし)” sauce, such as Shoyu-Dare, Miso-Dare, or Shio-Dare.

And the resultant thing is first prepared in a bowl. Then, boiled noodles and toppings are added.

As I wrote above, typical ingredients in Tanmen are stir-fried pork and vegetables, whereas Ramen can use almost any food material in it.

Where to Eat Tanmen in Tokyo

Mouko TanmenImage: Wikipedia

Tanmen noodles are offered by many ramen shops and Chinese restaurants in the Kanto region around Tokyo.

Among them, one of the best and most popular ramen shops is “Mouko Tanmen Takamoto (蒙古タンメン中本)“.

Their Tanmen features addicting spicy soup broth containing plenty of “Ichimi Togarashi (一味唐辛子)” ground red chili pepper and, because of that, has many addicts.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia ラーメン, タンメン )


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. Orenji-san says:

    Thank you for sharing insight about Tanmen and Ramen! I was curious about Tanmen ever since I saw it on an episode of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. I really thought it was a variety of ramen. It didn’t occur to me that it was entirely a different noodle dish.

    I hope to get to eat a bowl of Tanmen sometime ahahaha 🙂

    • Tomo says:

      Thank you for commenting!
      Tanmen is similar to ramen in appearance, so even Japanese people, many think of it as a variety of ramen!
      In fact, I too assumed so before 🙂

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