Yakisoba vs Soba vs Ramen vs Udon : What is the Difference?

Yakisoba, Soba, Ramen, and Udon are 4 major noodle dishes that can be enjoyed everywhere in Japan throughout the year. If you are acquainted with Japanese noodles, you should know about these dishes quite well.

The Difference between Yakisoba, Soba, Ramen, and Udon Noodles

However, a lot of overseas people seem to be confused about the difference between the Japanese noodle dishes, Yakisoba, Soba, Ramen, and Udon.

Therefore, for those who have not tried all of these Japanese noodles yet, today let me talk about how they are different from one another.

Yakisoba (焼きそば)


Yakisoba is the only noodle dish that has no broth among these 4 noodle dishes. The noodles are stir-fried with meat and vegetables, and seasoned mainly with sauce.


Unlike Ramen, the wheat noodles for Yakisoba sold at grocery stores in Japan are mostly what was steamed and coated with oil.


Generally, Yakisoba is primarily seasoned with a Japanese Worcester sauce, together with soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper. The regular sauce-based Yakisoba is generally called “Sauce Yakisoba (ソース焼きそば)”, but there are also salt-based and soy-sauce-based ones.


Typical ingredients used in Yakisoba are pork belly, cabbage, carrot, onion, and bean sprouts. 

Condiments and Garnishes

Many Japanese like to dress Yakisoba noodles with (spicy) mayonnaise, and sprinkle dried seaweed powder “Aonori (青のり)” and dried bonito shavings “Katsuobushi (鰹節)” over the noodle dish. As a garnish, red pickled ginger “Beni Shoga (紅ショウガ)” is often prepared for Yakisoba.

Soba (蕎麦)


The Japanese noodle dish, Soba comes in 2 types. One consists of noodles in hot soup like Ramen.

Zaru Soba

Regarding the other, the noodles and the broth are served cold separately, so you eat the noodles dipping in the sauce each time.


Unlike Yakisoba, Ramen, and Udon (all of which are made from wheat flour), Soba is made from buckwheat. As a thickener for the noodles, wheat flour is typically used.


Mentsuyu (麺つゆ)” is usually prepared for the broth. Mentsuyu is the Japanese liquid seasoning made combining “Dashi (出汁)” and “Kaeshi (かえし)”. Dashi is soup stock taken from Kombu seaweed, dried bonito flakes, Shiitake mushrooms and so on, while Kaeshi is made by simmering dark soy sauce, sugar, and Mirin sweet cooking rice wine.


Typical ingredients used in Soba are Tempura, deep-fried bean curd “Aburaage (油あげ)”, edible wild plants “Sansai (山菜)”, duck meat, raw egg, Wakame seaweed, grated yam, green onions, and Nameko mushrooms.

Condiments and Garnishes 

We Japanese like to eat Soba noodle soup with grated horseradish “Wasabi (ワサビ)”, sprinkling Shichimi Togarashi spice over the noodle dish. As a garnish, finely chopped green onions are typically prepared for Soba.

The Meaning of Soba

When Soba is written as “蕎麦” in Chinese characters, its meaning is definitely buckwheat or buckwheat noodle. But when Soba is represented by “そば” or “ソバ”, they can refer to several Japanese noodle dishes including buckwheat Soba and Yakisoba.

Ramen (ラーメン)

Shoyu Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish that is very popular in many countries, which is available in various types and a wide range of flavors. Even among those, Shoyu Ramen (soy-sauce-based), Shio Ramen (salt-based), Miso Ramen (miso-based), and Tonkotsu Ramen (pork-bone-based) are widely enjoyed in Japan.


The noodles for Ramen is made from wheat flour, together with a form of alkaline water “Kansui (かん水)” and salt.

Seasonings (Flavors)

Almost any seasoning and flavoring can be added to the noodle soup. In fact, there are many weird flavors of Ramen in Japan, from pineapple to coffee.


Almost any food material can be used in Ramen, but roast pork slices “Chashu (チャーシュー)”, processed bamboo shoots “Menma (メンマ)”, thinly sliced green onions, pink and white fish cake “Naruto (ナルト)” are typically prepared for the noodle soup.

Condiments and Garnishes 

Many Japanese like to eat Ramen with pepper “Kosho (胡椒)”. As a garnish, dried seaweed laver “Nori (海苔)” is sometimes prepared.

Udon (うどん)

Su Udon

Zaru Udon

As you can see from these photos, Udon can be eaten in the same manners as Soba. 


The noodles for Udon are made with wheat flour, water and salt. In the case of dried noodles, the definition of Udon noodles is the wheat noodle whose long diameter is from 1.7 mm to 3.8 mm.


As with Soba, “Mentsuyu (麺つゆ)” is usually prepared for the broth of Udon noodles and sometimes curry sauce is added to it.


Typical ingredients for Udon noodle soup are almost the same as the ones for Soba: Tempura, Tempura bits “Agedama (揚げ玉)“, Aburaage, Mochi rice cake, Kamaboko fish cake, raw egg, Wakame seaweed, grated yam, meat (duck, beef, pork), and green onions.

Condiments and Garnishes 

Shichimi Togarashi is an essential condiment for Udon noodle soup. Chilled Udon noodles usually come with finely chopped green onions.

(Reference Pages : Wikipedia 焼きそば, 蕎麦, ラーメン, うどん )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures 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: