Nissin Donbei Tempura Soba vs Maruchan Midori no Tanuki
When it comes to instant udon and buckwheat soba, Maruchan and Nissin are the top 2 leading Japanese instant noodles manufacturers with a large share in Japan’s market.
Several months ago, I wrote an article about Japanese instant udon, so today I will talk about instant soba noodle soups of both Maruchan and Nissin and actually compare the 2 most popular instant buckwheat noodles in Japan.
As you may know, the name of the Maruchan’s top-selling instant soba noodle is “Midori no Tanuki (緑のたぬき)”, while the Nissin’s best-selling instant buckwheat noodle soup has the brand name “Donbei (どん兵衛)”.
Then, what is the difference in taste, topping, cooking method, and so on between them?
Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba Instant Soba Noodle Bowl
First off, the official name of the Maruchan’s best-selling instant soba noodle bowl is “Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba (マルちゃん 緑のたぬき 天そば)”, which was introduced in 1980 by Toyo Suisan.
“Tensoba (天そば)” stands for “Tempura Soba (天ぷらそば)”, so when you peel back the top paper lid, you see a large piece of Tempura in the bowl, which mainly contains shrimps in the batter.
Other than the shrimp Tempura and dried Udon noodle block, small Kamaboko slices and one flavor packet come with the bowl. The packet actually consists of 2 parts; one contains soup base powder and the other contains Shichimi Togarashi spice.
As for the cooking, first put only the soup base powder in the bowl from the packet. Then, pour boiling water up to the line indicated inside the container, close the lid, and let the noodles sit and cook for 3 minutes.
3 minutes later, remove the top paper lid and stir all the ingredients lightly. Then, as a finishing touch add Shichimi Togarashi and you can enjoy the noodle dish.
Actually, Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba comes in 2 versions: Kanto (Eastern Japan) Version and Kansai (Western Japan) Version.
I live in Niigata Prefecture, so this one is the Kanto Version. This East Japan version Midori no Tanuki Tensoba is especially characterized by its soup broth with the umami of Katsuobushi dried bonito flakes and a little sweetness.
The noodles are slightly curly compared to the ones of Nissin Donbei Tempura Soba, so they are well coated with the broth. Since the shrimp Tempura is soaked in the soup during the cooking process, it is soggy.
Based on the information on the official website of Toyo Suisan, the Japanese instant soba Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba has 480 kcal (noodles and toppings: 434 kcal/broth: 46 kcal) per one serving (101 grams) and contains 5.9 g salt equivalents (noodles and toppings: 1.9 g/broth: 4.0 g).
Nissin Donbei Tempura Soba Instant Noodle Bowl
On the other hand, Nissin introduced its first instant soba noodle soup “Nissin Donbei Tempura Soba (日清 どん兵衛 天ぷらそば)” into the market in 1976.
As its name indicates, the main garnish of this instant soba bowl is also Tempura, which mainly contains shrimps and Nori seaweed in the batter. Unlike Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba, the Tempura topping comes in a plastic bag.
As with Maruchan Midori no Tanuki, the accompanying flavor packet of this instant soba bowl consists of 2 parts with soup base powder and Shichimi Togarashi respectively.
Unlike Maruchan Midori no Tanuki, at the end of the making, the Tempura topping is added to the bowl. Except for that, the cooking method of this instant soba is the same as that of Midori no Tanuki.
Unlike Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoaba, the Donbei’s shrimp-Nori Tempura is pleasantly crispy with a good flavor of shrimps as it is added as a finishing.
Actually, as well as Midori no Tanuki, Donbei has 2 versions of instant soba noodles, and the broth of this East Japan version has lots of umami of bonito and isn’t that sweet.
As a whole, I prefer this Nissin Donbei Tempura Soba to Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Tensoba, mainly because the shrimp-Nori Tempura is better in taste and texture and the broth also has a satisfying rich flavor.
Lastly, based on the information on the official website of Nissin, the Japanese instant soba bowl Nissin Donbei Tempura Soba has 480 kcal (noodles and toppings: 453 kcal/broth: 27 kcal) per one serving (100 grams) and contains 5.7 g salt equivalents (noodles and toppings: 1.8 g/broth: 3.9 g).