Is Ramen a Noodle Soup?

Have you been wondering whether the categorization of ramen as a noodle soup is correct? On most websites, one can find the definition that ramen is a noodle soup, while some argue it is just a noodle or just a soup. What do people in Japan have to say – is ramen a noodle soup?

Yes, in Japan, ramen is considered a type of noodle soup. It isn’t seen as just noodles or soup. People regard it as a dish consisting of several toppings and wheat noodles in a broth.

Ramen on a brown tray

Is Ramen a Form of Noodle Soup?

Ramen can be vaguely characterized as a noodle soup. However, ramen is much more than a noodle soup in various aspects. Unlike ordinary light noodle soups, ramen consists of rich broth and standard toppings such as dried meat, seaweed, boiled eggs, leeks, scallions, ginger, garlic, and leeks.

Also, the dish shouldn’t be confused with instant noodle variants that are regarded as ”ramen noodles” by the American population. Avoiding this confusion is possible by calling the authentic dish – Japanese ramen.

Cloudy and thick tonkotsu ramen in a ceramic bowl

Different Types of Ramen

You might get confused when ordering the dish since there are many variations, and each one features different ingredients and umami flavors. Here is a list of the most popular ramen dishes you can encounter when visiting Asian restaurants:

  • Shoyu ramen – It is typically a clear chicken broth that is seasoned with light soy sauce. One might get different meat toppings like (pork, fish, and beef) depending on the region in Japan shoyu ramen originated from.
  • Tonkotsu ramen – If you are searching for one of the thickest soups, tonkotsu ramen is the ideal choice. It takes long hours to boil large bulks of pork bones for this type of dish and produce a white, cloudy, and thick broth. It is usually flavored with pork fat.
  • Shio ramen – Similar to shoyu ramen, shio is a clear broth seasoned with salt. It is generally prepared with chicken but sometimes, adding pork and beef can make the dish even better.
  • Hokkaido ramen – It is a variety made with miso. The thick soybean paste provides an aroma and delicious umami flavor. Hokkaido ramen has a thicker consistency than other variants.

Don’t Mix Up Other Noodle Soups Varieties With Ramen

Thin wheat noodles served in a fish and meat broth is what characterizes ramen. However, there are other varieties of noodle soups that don’t share similar characteristics with ramen and should be mistaken for the popular dish. When one orders ”noodle soup” in an Asian restaurant, one might not get ramen but something completely different. This is why using correct vocabulary is so important. Here is a table with other noodle soup varieties one can accidentally mistake for Japanese ramen.

PhoIt is a Vietnamese soup consisting of rice noodles, meat, and herbs. It usually contains chili, bean sprouts, and limes. It is estimated that the dish originated in the early 20th century in Vietnam.
LaksaLaksa is a spicy noodle soup with toppings such as fish, tofu, prawn, and chicken. Most commonly, it is prepared with spicy and rich coconut soup. Laksa originates from Malaysia.
Udon SoupAnother Japanese style noodle soup, udon is prepared with chunks of wheat noodles called udon; therefore, the soup got the name udon noodle soup. The broth is made from dashi, and it is seasoned with mirin, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. The main difference between ramen and udon is the type of noodle that is used. Udon noodles are thicker than ramen noodles.

Escape Another Mix-Up – Difference Between Instant Noodles and Ramen

Many people frequently think ramen is the same as instant noodles. However, there aren’t many things that the two dishes share. Instant noodles are dehydrated noodles that are packaged with preservatives and are purchased with dehydrated vegetables together with a packet of seasoning. There are various types that range from soba to udon and are typically quickly and easily cooked at home. One needs simply hot water to prepare them and nothing else.

On the other hand, ramen includes wheat noodles. The broth and the toppings like bamboo shoots, fish, meat, scallions, and a boiled egg are the main ingredients that make the dish unique. The noodles are not the primary and only ingredient that is relevant, like with instant noodles. It is all about umami.

Ramen in a bowl with boiled eggs and sliced leek

Understand the Etiquette of the Unique Noodle Soup – Learn How to Eat Ramen Correctly

It might be surprising to find out that a soup is eaten with chopsticks, but that is how one should eat ramen correctly. A Chinese-style spoon will be provided along with the chopstick for the sole purpose of drinking the broth and eating small toppings. Another option is to lift the bowl and drink the soup, which can be done once you’ve almost finished eating.

Another important tip is to start eating the dish immediately upon being served. The noodles can get soggy quite quickly, and avoiding this is crucial. Also, as with other noodle soups and broths, slurping is seen as a sign of the high quality of the meal. It is thought that it enhances the taste. Although drinking the whole bowl is considered a compliment, one doesn’t have to do that at all costs, and leaving some soup in the bowl wouldn’t be interpreted as impolite.

Thick and cloudy ramen with lime, meat, and carrots

Settling the Debate – Ramen Is a Type of Noodle Soup

Ramen is a unique and exquisite dish that can be characterized as a noodle soup so as to avoid confusion. Even though it isn’t an ordinary soup but a broth with numerous toppings and spices, there are other noodle soups that are similar to ramen but that are different in many aspects. Learning how to prepare and eat a tasty dish is of paramount importance for anyone who wants to experience the deliciousness and authenticity of the meal. We can settle on the vague and rudimentary definition that it is a noodle soup, but we know that it is much more than that.