Noodles have an extended history in Japan and still today they are probably the most consumed food in the country. In general there are four types of noodles commonly eaten. Soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour, are thin and gray-brown. Udon noodles come from wheat flour and are very thick and whitish. Ramen, still thought of as Chinese though Japanese consume them voraciously, are medium thickness and gray. Lastly, Somen and Hiyamugi noodles are quite thin and usually eaten cold.
The first three types are eaten as a kind of fast food and even the noodles served in hot soup are usually al dente, and devoured quickly, before they can go limp in the broth.
Containing high-grade protein and vitamins B1 and B2, these thin, tan noodles may be eaten hot or chilled. Made from a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours, which vary by product, the best are said to be those with a 4:1 ratio, respectively. Although fresh soba noodles are readily available in Japan, the dried and frozen noodles are more common overseas because they keep indefinitely.
These hearty noodles are made simply from wheat flour, salt and water. Available in a variety of thickness, udon noodles are often used in soups and are added to nabe dishes towards the end of the meal. As with soba noodles, the dried and frozen form is prevalent outside of Japan.
Ramen is a wheat-based noodle dish with a variety of toppings and soups. Each local city has its own Ramen variety and each local Ramen chef is inventing his / her own specialties everyday. Instant Ramen is another popular dish and expanding its lineups. JFC always keeps stocks of Japanese up-to-date popular varieties.
Ramen with varieties of soup and toppings
Somen / Hiyamugi
These very thin noodles are also made from wheat flour, salt and water. The thinner variety is called somen; the slightly thicker one is hiyamugi. Somen / Hiyamugi noodles are often eaten with chilled dipping soups or men-tsuyu. They are one of the typical summer season meals that are best enjoyed cool.