The Difference: Ramen vs Tsukemen vs Abura Soba

Ramen, together with Udon and buckwheat Soba, is a quintessential Japanese noodle dish widely enjoyed around the world.

Therefore, many overseas people probably know what Ramen is and how it is served and eaten. 

The Difference between Ramen, Tsukemen, and Abura Soba

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

Actually, they are both Japanese noodle dishes originating from Ramen, and have been a favorite of many Japanese for decades.

For those who know little how Ramen, Tsukemen, and Abura Soba are different from one another, today I will explain that.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen

As you know, Japanese Ramen is a noodle soup dish that comes in numerous flavors and countless varieties.

But the typical flavors include “Shoyu (醤油 : soy sauce)”, “Miso (味噌 : 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, are available in Japan, which include the Tokyo’s 7 weird Ramen noodle soups I introduced before.

Besides, regional Ramen with unique features are seen in various areas of Japan, such as Taiwan Ramen in Nagoya, Toyama Black Ramen in Toyama, and Kurume Ramen in Fukuoka.

Tsukemen (つけ麺)


Unlike Ramen, the noodles and the soup broth for Tsukemen are served in separate bowls, so each time you eat the noodles dipping in the broth.

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

Compared to Ramen, in general the broth of Tsukemen is strong in taste and the noodles are large in quantity.

The soup broth can be served hot or cold and, in order to make it possible for eaters to drink it up, many shops provide “Soup-Wari (スープ割り)” soup stock, after they eat all the noodles, to dilute the broth with.

The toppings for Tsukemen are basically the same as the ones for Ramen. They are not only served in the soup broth, but many shops arrange both the noodles and toppings on the same bowl.

Tsukemen is enjoyed in the specialized shops as well as being offered by many normal ramen restaurants around the country.

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 set 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 in order to coat the noodles with the seasonings.

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

Additionally, before eating the noodle dish, you can add some chili oil and vinegar to the bowl to your preference.

In Japan, Abura Soba is offered by Abura Soba specialty shops in addition to some Ramen restaurants.

(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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: