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Ramen, Tsukemen and Soba Noodles - What Is The Difference?

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Ramen is a fairly well recognized Japanese food. Although it originally came from China, it has been loved by many over the ages in Japan, and has evolved into a separate food entirely.

Tsukemen and
abura soba
(oiled soba noodles) are both dishes that derive from
ramen.

Here we'll explain the characteristics and differences between the very similar
rāmen,
tsukemen, and
abura (maze) soba.

What is
Ramen?

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The main feature of ramen is the fact that the noodles are soaked in soup.

Originally, this dish was mainly made with thin, small noodles, but recently thick noodles which help to bring out the flavor of the wheat are popular now. There are many types of soup bases to choose from such as: soy sauce, salt, miso, pork bone broth, and spicy ones, to name just a few. Different types of noodles may also be used depending on the soup that is being used.

There are many other Japanese dishes that are quite similar to rāmen, namely udon, soba, tanmen, and champon. It might be difficult for people who are not that familiar with Japanese cuisine to be able to tell all these dishes apart. Your best bet is to check the menu.

Rāmen has many fans around the world because you can enjoy the soup as well as the noodles, which have soaked up the flavor of the soup.

Read also:
Japanese Encyclopedia: Rāmen

What is Tsukemen?

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From: Dipping Noodles in Broth? How to Enjoy Tsukemen

The main difference between tsukemen and
rāmen is that the soup and the noodles are served separately in tsukemen.

As the noodles and the soup are served separately, it's easier to get a good taste of the noodles. Also, after being boiled, the noodles are run under cold water to firm them up, so they have a different texture than those of
rāmen.

In the case of tsukemen, you dip the noodles into the topping-filled soup. The noodles are thick, and you choose the amount of noodles you like. In general the thick tsukemen soup has a rich soy sauce base, making it possible to taste both the acidity and sweetness of the sauce, though there are some restaurants that have their own unique soups.

Tsukemen is typically eaten by dipping the cold noodles into the hot soup, but you can also try eating the noodles using the popular atsumori (warm noodles) style.

Finally, to finish off your dish, you add
soup wari, an extra broth that you may either have on the table or ask the staff to bring you. This extra soup stock is used to thin down and warm the soup base, making it easier to drink once the noodles and toppings have been eaten.

For more info on tsukemen, check out these links!
Dipping Noodles in Broth? How to Enjoy Tsukemen
Know Your Noodles: How to Eat Ramen "Atsumori" Style

What is Abura Soba?

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Abura soba (also called "maze soba") features a thick "sauce" in place of the soup, which is what sets it apart from
rāmen. Although they are essentially the same thing, the soba with a larger amount of ingredients is labeled as maze soba.

There's a little bit of sauce at the bottom of the bowl, beneath all the noodles and toppings. The thick sauce is made with soy sauce and lard; if you would like more sauce for your dish, then you can add vinegar or spicy sesame oil (ra-yu), to increase the volume and adjust the flavor. Then mix all the ingredients and the noodles together, and enjoy!

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