Ramen vs Tsukemen vs Abura Soba noodles

Ramen, together with Udon and Soba, is a quintessential Japanese noodle dish widely enjoyed around the world, so many overseas people probably know what Ramen is and how it is served and eaten. 

But have you ever heard of “Tsukemen (つけ麺)” and “Abura Soba (油そば)”?

The Difference: Ramen vs Tsukemen vs Abura Soba

Actually, Tsukemen and Abura Soba are both noodle dishes originating from Ramen and have been a favorite of Japanese people for decades.

Today, for people who don’t know much about how these 3 types of Japanese noodle dishes, Ramen, Tsukemen, and Abura Soba differ from one another, I will explain what they are.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen

First off, as you know, Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish that comes in various flavors and numerous varieties.

Classic ramen flavors that have long been loved in Japan are “Shoyu (醤油: soy sauce)”, “Miso (味噌: fermented soybean paste)”, “Shio (塩: salt)”, “Tonkotsu (豚骨: pork bone)”, and “Tonkotsu-Shoyu (豚骨醤油: soy sauce-based pork bone)”.

Other than these, a wide range of flavors of Ramen, from sweet to unusual to crazy, can be seen in Japan, which includes these 7 weird varieties I introduced before.

Besides, almost every region of Japan has its own Ramen with unique features, for example, Taiwan Ramen in Nagoya, Toyama Black Ramen in Toyama, and Kurume Ramen in Fukuoka.

Tsukemen (つけ麺)


Unlike Ramen, the noodles of Tsukemen are served separately from a bowl of soup broth, so you eat the noodles each time dipping in the broth.

Incidentally, the name, Tsukemen can be divided into 2 words, “Tsuke (つけ)” and “Men (麺)”. The former Tsuke stands for the Japanese verb “Tsukeru (つける)” meaning dipping, while the latter Men is the Japanese word for noodles.

Compared to Ramen, the broth of Tsukemen generally has a strong taste and the amount of noodles is large.

The broth for Tsukemen is served hot or cold and, to make it possible for eaters to drink it up, many shops provide soup stock called “Soup-Wari (スープ割り)”, after they finish eating the noodles, to dilute the broth with.

The toppings or garnishes for Tsukemen are basically the same as the ones for Ramen. They are either served in the soup or arranged in the same bowl with noodles.

In addition to being offered by ordinary ramen restaurants around the country, Tsukemen can be enjoyed in specialized shops.

Abura Soba (油そば)

Abura Soba

Abura Soba, literally meaning oil noodles in Japanese, is the soupless Ramen whose base seasonings, such as sesame oil and soy-sauce-based sauce, are on the bottom of the bowl, onto which noodles are placed. 

Hence, after a bowl of Abura Soba is served, you need to mix all the ingredients together well to coat the noodles with the seasoning liquid on the bottom.

Because of this, Abura Soba is also called “Maze Soba (まぜそば: literally Mixing Noodles).

Incidentally, before eating the noodles, you can additionally add Layu chili oil and vinegar to the bowl to your preference.

In Japan, there are shops that specialize in Abura Soba and some Ramen restaurants too are offering it.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia つけ麺, 油そば )


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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