Tanmen vs Ramen : The Difference between the 2 Japanese Noodles

When it comes to Japanese noodle dishes, I think that the 3 Japanese noodles, ramen, udon and (buckwheat) soba, are widely enjoyed not only in Japan but also in 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 that, it seems that some people think of “Tanmen (タンメン)” that looks like Shio (salt) ramen as a kind of ramen.

The Difference between Tanmen and Ramen noodle soups

However, tanmen is generally considered another type of noodle dish that is different from ramen. Hence, today I want to explain the difference.

Tanmen (タンメン)

 Tanmen (タンメン)

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 making process. The ingredients of tanmen, such as pork and vegetables (cabbage, carrot, onion, bean sprouts, Chinese chive, Jew’s ear mushroom and so on), are first stir-fried, then simmered with salt-based chicken broth in a wok. After that, the hot soup broth with the simmered ingredients is poured onto the boiled noodles placed in a bowl.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Shio Ramen (塩ラーメン : Salt Ramen)

On the other hand, raman is the quintessential Japanese comfort food that is enjoyed throughout Japan. It is said that Japanese Ramen has its origin in “Nankin Soba (南京そば)”, the noodle dish eaten in the chinatowns that were 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 tanmen noodles. The soup broth for ramen is made, separately from the ingredients (toppings), by seasoning the soup stock taken from pork bone, chicken bone, 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 ingredient of Tanmen basically consists of stir-fried pork and vegetables as mentioned above, while a wide variety of foods, including seaweed, roast pork, grilled seafood, and even fruits and ice cream, are used as toppings for ramen noodles.

Where to Eat Tanmen noodles

Nissin Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto instant cup noodles

You can enjoy tanmen noodles at many ramen shops and Chinese restaurants in the Kanto region around Tokyo. The most popular ramen shop offering tanmen in Tokyo is “Mouko Tanmen Takamoto (蒙古タンメン中本)” whose tanmen features its spicy soup containing a large amount of “Ichimi Togarashi (一味唐辛子)” spice (Amazon.com). The traditional Japanese spice, Ichimi Togarashi consists solely of red chili pepper.

(Reference pages of this article : Wikipedia “ラーメン“, “タンメン“)


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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