4 Types of “Soba” without using Buckwheat Noodles

When you hear “Soba (そば)”, what comes to your mind first? Traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles? Yes, the word Soba usually refers to buckwheat noodles.

However, in some cases, the word Soba may refer to several different Japanese noodle dishes. 

5 Japanese Soba Dishes

Actually, there are 5 types of “Soba” noodles commonly eaten in Japan, which are “Yaki Soba (焼きそば)”, “Shina Soba (支那そば)” or “Chuka Soba (中華そば)”, “Abura Soba (油そば)” or “Maze Soba (まぜそば)”, “Okinawa Soba (沖縄そば)”, and “Nihon Soba (日本そば)”.

By the way, have you ever heard of all these Japanese dishes? Don’t worry, for people who answer “No” to this question, today I will explain what they are.

Yaki Soba (焼きそば)

Yakisoba noodles

First off, Yaki Soba, together with Ramen, (buckwheat) Soba, and Udon, is one of the noodle dishes that represent Japan.

It is made by stir-frying somewhat thick boiled or steamed wheat noodles with pork belly slices and vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, onions, and bean sprouts, in a shallow pan with some oil. 

Yaki Soba is usually seasoned mainly with Japanese Worcester sauce while cooking, together with soy sauce, a dash of salt and pepper.

This noodle dish is often made in households in Japan, and accordingly, a variety of instant Yaki Soba noodles, including these, can be seen at supermarkets.

Shina Soba (支那そば) or Chuka Soba (中華そば)

Chuka Soba or Shina Soba

When you see the picture above, you will probably think this is a bowl of ramen. Yes, actually Shina Soba and Chuka Soba are both synonyms for Ramen.

Although the name of many ramen restaurants includes the word Soba, like Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta and Chuka Soba Tomita, the Soba in these cases derives from Shina Soba or Chuka Soba.

Abura Soba (油そば) or Maze Soba (まぜそば)

Abura Soba or Maze Soba

If you are quite well acquainted with Ramen, you may also know quite well about Abura Soba. Abura Soba, also known as Maze Soba, is a type of Ramen that is soupless.

As “Abura (油)” means oil in Japanese, as preparation, instead of broth, sesame oil and a soy sauce-based sauce are first put on the bottom of the bowl, onto which boiled noodles are placed.

The typical topping for Abura Soba includes Char-siu pork, Menma bamboo shoots, and chopped green onions.

After the dish is served to you, you can add vinegar and Rayu chili oil to your preference, and then you need to mix all the ingredients well as “Maze Soba (まぜそば)” literally means “Mixing Noodles”.

There are not only Abura Soba specialty restaurants in Japan, but you can also enjoy Abura Soba or Maze Soba in instant noodle form, like this.

Okinawa Soba (沖縄そば)

Okinawa Soba

As its name indicates, Okinawa Soba is the regional noodle dish of Okinawa Prefecture consisting of slightly curly, thick Udon-like noodles in a soy sauce-based broth made with pork bones and Katsuobushi bonito flakes.

The thick noodles for Okinawa Soba are made from wheat flour and don’t contain buckwheat at all, and they have a texture similar to Udon noodles.

Okinawa Soba is a local noodle but popular nationwide, so you can find restaurants that specialize in Okinawa Soba in various places of Japan.

Nihon Soba (日本そば)

Nihon Soba

In the case of telling traditional buckwheat Soba noodles apart from other Soba dishes like the above, the specific name “Nihon Soba (日本そば: literally Japan Soba)” is usually used.


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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