Ramen vs. Tsukemen vs. Abura Soba: Japanese Noodle Dishes

Ramen (ラーメン), together with Udon and Soba, is a widely enjoyed Japanese noodle dish. So many overseas people probably know what it is.

But have you ever heard of Tsukemen (つけ麺) and Abura Soba (油そば), and do you know how they differ from Ramen?

Ramen vs. Tsukemen vs. Abura Soba

For those who don’t, Tsukemen and Abura Soba are both noodle dishes that originated from Ramen and have long been favorites in Japan for decades.

For comparison, here, I will give you an overview of the characteristics of each noodle dish.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen

First, as you know, Ramen comes in numerous varieties, but classics are Shoyu (醤油: soy sauce), Miso (味噌: fermented soybean seasoning), Shio (塩: salt), and Tonkotsu (豚骨: pork bone).

Other than those, a wide range of flavors of Ramen, from sweet to unusual or crazy, is available in Japan.

Besides, many regions in my country have their Ramen specialty with unique features, for example, Taiwan Ramen in Nagoya, Toyama Black Ramen in Toyama, and Kurume Ramen in Fukuoka.

Tsukemen (つけ麺)


The name Tsukemen is a compound word composed of Tsuke (つけ), short for Tsukeru (つける), meaning dipping, and Men (麺) for noodles.

So unlike Ramen, the noodles of Tsukemen are served separately from a bowl of soup broth, and you dip them in the broth before slurping.

Compared to Ramen, the broth of Tsukemen (which can be served both hot and cold) generally has a strong taste, and the amount of noodles is large.

Many shops that offer Tsukemen provide soup stock called Soup-Wari (スープ割り) for diluting the broth to make it possible for eaters to drink it up after they finish eating the noodles.

The toppings/garnishes for Tsukemen are varied, like Ramen, often arranged in the same bowl with noodles.

In addition to being offered by ramen restaurants, Tsukemen is available in specialized shops.

Abura Soba (油そば)

Abura Soba

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

Hence, after a bowl of Abura Soba is served, you must mix it up to coat the noodles with the seasoning sauce, as Abura Soba has another name Maze Soba (まぜそば: Mixing Noodles).

Before eating the noodles, you can add Layu chili oil and vinegar for extra flavor to the bowl to your preference.

As with Tsukemen, in addition to being offered by ramen restaurants, Abura Soba is available in specialized shops.

(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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