What is Sanma-Men?: Ramen from Kanagawa

Today at lunchtime, I ate the “Sanma-Men (サンマー麺)” instant ramen (Price: 220 Yen/ about 2 USD) from Yamadai’s New Touch Sugomen line.

In Japan, the instant ramen brand New Touch Sugomen is well-known for its extensive line-up of instant noodles that faithfully recreate the taste of local ramens seen in various regions,

Sanma Men Noodles from Yamadai

and this instant Sanma-Men from Yamadai has been recommended by the association “Kanagawa Sanma-Men no Kai (かながわサンマー麺の会)” that promotes Sanma-Men since 2011.

Sanma-Men (サンマーメン) originated in Yokohama


“Sanma-Men (サンマーメン)” is a bowl of ramen that originated around 1947 in Yokahama, Kanagawa Prefecture, which was originally a meal provided for cooks in the restaurant.

This local ramen basically uses 5 different colors of toppings, which are white (i.e. bean sprouts, Chinese cabbage), black (i.e. cloud ear mushroom), red (i.e. carrot, pork), yellow (i.e. bamboo shoot), and green (i.e. leafy greens).

Sanma Men Local Ramen from Yokahama Kanagawa

But there is no clear definition and the ingredients used vary depending on each restaurant. Nonetheless, bean sprouts or Moyashi is the essential ingredient for Sanma-Men, which gives the ramen a pleasant crisp bite.

Sanma-Men looks like a bowl of Moyashi Ramen but it differs from the latter in that its stir-fried vegetables are thickened with Katakuriko or potato starch.

By the way, the broth of Sanma-Men is either soy sauce-based or salt-based, and the noodles are generally thin and straight.

Origin of the word “Sanma (サンマー)”

Sanma Men Ramen

For its name, Sanma-Men is often misunderstood that it is topped with “Sanma (サンマ, 秋刀魚)” or grilled saury. But the “Sanma (サンマー)” actually derives from Cantonese and is represented as “生馬” using Chinese characters or Kanji.

In the word “生馬 (Sanma)”, “生 (San)” stands for “fresh crisp texture”, while “馬 (Ma)” means “topping”.


The birthplace of Sanma-Men is said to be the Chinese restaurant located in the Chinatown of Yokohama “Heichinrou (聘珍楼)” (Google Map).

(Reference Pages: Sannma-men.com, Wikipedia サンマーメン )


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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