Udon vs Soba: A Comparison of Two Popular Japanese Noodle Dishes

Two of the most well-liked Japanese noodles that are eaten all around the world are udon and soba. Despite having a similar appearance, the two can be distinguished from one another by a few significant variances. The similarities and differences between udon and soba noodles, as well as their textures, flavors, and ingredients, will be discussed in this article.

Udon noodles

Soba noodles are thin and flavorful with a hint of nuts, in contrast to the thick and chewy udon noodles. Soba is prepared using buckwheat flour, whereas udon is made with wheat flour.

To give soba noodles a more elastic texture, normal wheat flour is frequently used with them. Both udon and soba noodles can be eaten hot or cold and are frequently used in soups, stir-fries, and salads.

Whether you enjoy udon or soba, knowing the distinctions between the two will help you decide which to have for your next dinner. So let’s explore udon and soba noodles and see what makes them special.

Origins and History

In Japan, udon and soba each have a rich history, with each noodle coming from a different place and time.

Soba noodles on a black bowl
Soba noodles on a black bowl. Slate background. Close up.

Around the seventh century, udon is thought to have been imported from China to Japan. When it was adopted as a common dish throughout the Edo era (1603–1868), it gained in popularity.

The thick, chewy texture of udon noodles, which are prepared from wheat flour, salt, and water, is well-known. Udon is frequently served with a variety of toppings, including tempura or grilled meats, in hot soups or cold dishes.

The texture of soba, on the other hand, which is produced from buckwheat flour, is slightly gritty. It is believed to have come from China and been introduced to Japan during the Jomon era (10,000 BC to 300 BC).

When soba was offered as a quick and simple supper for harried city inhabitants during the Edo era, it quickly gained popularity. Today, soba is frequently eaten hot in soups, cold with a dipping sauce, or topped with a variety of items like tempura or green onions.

Regional variants exist for both udon and soba, with several parts of Japan having their own distinctive tastes and flavors.

For instance, Nagano soba is well-known for its nutty flavor, while Sanuki udon from Kagawa Prefecture is renowned for its chewy texture.

Overall, udon and soba have long been staples of Japanese cuisine and are still well-liked today.

What is Udon?

Japanese noodles called udon are produced from wheat flour, salt, and water. The dough is flattened out after being worked, and then it is cut into thick, chewy noodles.

Udon Noodles on wooden background
Japanese food, Udon Noodles on wooden background

The normal shape of udon noodles is spherical, and they have a glossy, smooth texture.

In soups, stir-fries, and salads, udon noodles are a common ingredient in Japanese cooking. They are frequently served in a heated broth cooked with soy sauce and dashi, a kind of Japanese soup stock.

Udon noodles can also be consumed cold, either in a salad or with a dipping sauce.

The thickness of udon noodles is one of their distinguishing features. Udon noodles have a distinctive texture and sensation since they are quite thick and chewy compared to other kinds of noodles.

They may be matched with a variety of ingredients and flavors thanks to their versatility.

What is Soba?

Soba is a type of Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour and wheat flour. It has a thin, firm texture and a nutty flavor.

soba noodles

Soba noodles are a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and are often served hot or cold, in soups or as a standalone dish.

One of the unique features of soba noodles is that they are often served cold, especially during the summer months.

Cold soba noodles are typically served on a bamboo tray with a dipping sauce called tsuyu. The tsuyu sauce is made from dashi (a type of fish stock), soy sauce, and mirin (a type of sweet rice wine).

Because they contain more protein and less calories than other varieties of noodles, soba noodles are also a healthy option.

Moreover, they provide a high amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because that they don’t contain any animal ingredients, soba noodles are frequently used in vegetarian and vegan meals.

In general, soba noodles are a tasty and adaptable component in Japanese cooking. Soba noodles offer a distinctive flavor and texture that are sure to please any palate, whether they are eaten hot or cold, in soups or as a stand-alone dish.

Ingredients and Preparation

Udon Ingredients and Preparation

Boiled wheat udon noodles Chinese cuisine
Boiled wheat udon noodles Chinese cuisine selective focus

The ingredients for udon noodles are wheat flour, salt, and water. The dough is smoothed out by kneading it, after which it is flattened out and cut into thick noodles.

The noodles’ diameter ranges from about 4-6mm, but their thickness can vary. The noodles are then cooked until soft and chewy in salted water.

Udon noodles can be enjoyed cold with a dipping sauce in addition to being often served hot in soups or stir-fried dishes.

Soba Ingredients and Preparation

Buckwheat and wheat flour are combined to create soba noodles. Traditional soba noodles are typically produced with about 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour, though the proportion of buckwheat to wheat flour might vary.

After being rolled out and sliced into thin noodles, the dough is worked. Soba noodles are frequently served hot in soups or cold with a dipping sauce. They may also be added to salads or stir-fried.

Because some kinds of soba noodles may contain wheat flour as their main ingredient, it’s crucial to keep in mind that not all of them are gluten-free.

Before ingesting soba noodles, take sure to read the ingredient list if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance.

Texture and Flavor

The textures and flavors of udon and soba noodles are different from one another. Udon noodles have a shiny, smooth outside and are thick and chewy.

how to make japanese udon noodles

They are a versatile element in many different meals because of their mild flavor, which blends well with other ingredients.

Contrarily, soba noodles have a little gritty texture since they contain buckwheat flour. They are deeper brown in color and thinner than udon noodles.

Soba noodles complement savory sauces and toppings because of their mildly bitter and nutty flavor.

Here is a table summarizing the differences in texture and flavor between udon and soba noodles:

Noodle Type Texture Flavor

Noodle TypeTextureFlavor
UdonThick and chewy with a smooth and glossy surfaceMild and flexible, easily combines with other ingredients
SobaThin with a slightly grainy textureNutty with subtle bitter notes, pairs well with savory sauces and toppings

It’s worth noting that the texture and flavor of udon and soba noodles can vary depending on the brand and preparation method.

Some udon noodles may be thinner or have a rougher surface, while some soba noodles may be made with a higher percentage of wheat flour, resulting in a smoother texture.

Health Benefits

Both udon and soba noodles are nutritious and offer various health benefits.

udon noodles in a table

Buckwheat, which is used to make soba noodles, is a fantastic source of protein, fiber, and a number of vitamins and minerals.

Soba noodles are a fantastic choice for persons with celiac disease or gluten intolerance because buckwheat is also gluten-free.

Antioxidant-rich soba noodles have also been related to a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.

NutrientsSoba Noodles (100g)Udon Noodles (100g)
Calories99 kcal221 kcal
Protein12 g7 g
Fiber3 g1 g
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.2 mg0.1 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.1 mg0.1 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)2.5 mg1.5 mg
Iron2.5 mg0.8 mg

As opposed to soba noodles, udon noodles are created from wheat flour and include more calories and carbohydrates. Udon noodles, on the other hand, are a rich source of complex carbs, which offer long-lasting energy and may aid with weight control.

Udon noodles are a healthy addition to your diet because they are low in fat and sodium as well.

Overall, udon and soba noodles can both be included in a nutritious and well-balanced diet.

But, because of their increased nutrient content and gluten-free status, soba noodles may provide more health advantages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Japanese soba noodles

What are the main differences between udon and soba noodles?

The main differences between udon and soba noodles are:
Udon Noodles Soba Noodles
Wheat-based Buckwheat-based (sometimes mixed with wheat flour)
Thick and chewy texture Thin and slightly grainy texture
Glossy white color Dark brown-gray color
Neutral flavor Nutty flavor

Are udon noodles gluten-free?

No, udon noodles are not gluten-free. They are made with wheat flour, which contains gluten.

Are soba noodles gluten-free?

It depends. Traditional soba noodles are made with only buckwheat flour, which is gluten-free. However, many commercial soba noodles are mixed with wheat flour, which contains gluten. If you are looking for gluten-free soba noodles, make sure to check the ingredient list before purchasing.

Can udon and soba noodles be used interchangeably?

It depends on the recipe. Udon noodles are thicker and chewier than soba noodles, so they may not work well in dishes that require a lighter texture. Similarly, soba noodles have a nutty flavor that may not complement certain dishes. However, both types of noodles can be used in noodle soups and stir-fries.

udon noodles in a blow


Popular Japanese noodles with distinct flavors and qualities include udon and soba. While Soba noodles are thin and flavorful, Udon noodles are thick and chewy. Both types of noodles are adaptable and can be used in a variety of recipes.

Soba noodles are a great option if you’re seeking for a healthy option because they are created from buckwheat flour and are gluten-free. Udon noodles, on the other hand, are manufactured with wheat flour and contain gluten.

Udon noodles are more forgiving when it comes to cooking and may be boiled for a longer period of time without turning mushy. On the other hand, soba noodles cook rapidly and risk becoming mushy if overcooked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.