Tanmen vs Ramen: What is the Difference?

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

Those who have had 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 this, it seems that some people think of “Tan-Men (タンメン)” as a kind of ramen.

The Difference: Tanmen vs Ramen noodle soups

In fact, Tanmen looks like Shio (salt-based) Ramen. However, Tanmen is generally considered a noodle soup dish different from Ramen, and today let me explain the difference between Tanmen and Ramen.

Tanmen (タンメン)


Tanmen is a Japanese noodle soup 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,

where ingredients, such as pork and vegetables (typically cabbage, carrot, onion, bean sprouts, Chinese chive, and cloud ear mushroom), are first stir-fried in a wok and then salt-based chicken broth is added and simmered, and the soup is lastly poured into a bowl of boiled noodles.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Shio Ramen

On the other hand, widely enjoyed throughout Japan, Raman is the quintessential Japanese noodle dish, which 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 mentioned above, unlike Tanmen, Ramen comes in so many varieties and the representative flavors include “Shoyu (醤油: soy sauce)”, “Shio (塩: salt)”, and “Miso (味噌: soybean paste)”. 

The broth for ramen is made by seasoning soup stock made from pork bones, chicken bones, 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)”, and is first prepared in a bowl. Then, boiled noodles and toppings are added.

As I wrote above, the 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 most popular ramen restaurants is “Mouko Tanmen Takamoto (蒙古タンメン中本)“, whose Tanmen is characterized by its addicting spicy soup broth containing plenty of “Ichimi Togarashi (一味唐辛子)” ground red chili pepper.

(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.

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