Japan is a culturally and gastronomically diverse country. The culinary journey it can provide to its visitors and admirers is really fascinating. From the high and bright tones of mochi balls, to the dreamy and intoxicating sake, Japan has got you covered in every aspect of a meal. 

Now, let’s talk about two of the most iconic noodles that can be found in various dishes in Japan – the Udon and soba. For the untrained eye, these are essentially just the same noodles. However, both being classified as noodles is the only similarity that they share. Let’s sit down and have a discussion about this Udon soba rivalry.

Top Udon & Soba Noodles

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table__image Hime Dried Udon Noodles
  • Most recommended dried Udon noodles in the market today
  • Made from premium wheat and buckwheat
  • Easy to cook
Check Price on Amazon.com
table__image Hakubaku Organic Udon
  • Authentic, Japanese-style, wheat-based, and salt-free
  • Originally from Australia
  • Only needs 4 minutes of cooking
Check Price on Amazon.com
table__image King Soba Noodle Culture
  • Most popular soba product
  • Made from buckwheat and sweet potato
  • Offers great texture
Check Price on Amazon.com
table__image Maruchan Yakisoba – Eight Flavors
  • Eight delicious flavors in one pack
  • Shrimp, Savory Soy Sauce, Cheddar Cheese, Teriyaki Beef and others
  • Comes with By The Cup Chopsticks
Check Price on Amazon.com

Soba

Soba is known as one of the most nutrient-dense noodles in the world. It is made from ground buckwheat, where all the good stuff comes from, and water. Imagine, with only two simple ingredients, this highly nutritious noodle has been a staple food not only in Japan, but all over the world. As buckwheat has a more organic texture to it, soba is favored by the health conscious and elderly.

Another distinct characteristic of soba is its brittleness. If the soba you’re having is made from 100% buckwheat, it breaks down easily. This is the reason why some soba noodles being sold in the market or being served in restaurants have varying percentages of buckwheat, and a portion of it is wheat to improve noodle strength. In general, soba can be 40% to 100% made from buckwheat.

The versatility of soba has led to a diverse set of meals that are served either hot or cold. Here are some of the most popular ways to enjoy a serving of Soba.

Mori or Zaru Soba (Served Cold)

We believe this is the simplest type of cold-served soba. In fact, this is served on a plate or tray, paired with chilled tsuyu or dipping sauce. Usually, the dipping sauce is a mixture of mirin, water, and soup stock. As basic as it sounds, this is a very simple yet savory dish to enjoy on a hot day.

Sansai Soba (Served Hot)

This type of soba meal is served with wild vegetables or sansai on top of soba noodles in broth. A very hearty dish that incorporates the flavor of the broth, Sansai soba is a treat, especially with the texture of the vegetable toppings.

Tsukimi Soba (Served Hot)

When a soba meal becomes meaningful and artistic, then it should be the Tsukimi soba. Tsukimi, which means “moon watching” or “moon gazing” in Japanese, is a rich soba dish that has a raw egg on top, symbolizing the moon. This is a very flavorful soba dish because the broth, egg, and vegetables create a unique flavor that will definitely excite the senses.

Udon

Udon has its fair share of fans because of its distinct pale white and glossy appearance. Generally made with wheat flour and salt, the dough is cooked in boiling water. Thanks to its soft consistency, Udon is known to be easier to digest than soba.

The duel of Udon vs soba continues as we showcase various Udon dishes served either hot or cold. Now, you may find familiar dish names based on the soba list, and that is because the iteration is somehow shared between the two types of noodles. 

Kake Udon (Served Hot)

While a lot of Udon dishes are really simple to do, Kake Udon is one of the easiest to prepare. Kake Udon is served in a hot broth, just enough to cover the noodles, and there are no toppings whatsoever. In some cases, it is garnished with just green onions, and it’s good to go. 

Zaru Udon (Served Cold)

Zaru Udon is Udon’s response to the Udon vs soba battle. This is a completely similar dish to the one above, only this time, the noodles used are Udon. 

Curry Udon (Served Hot)

One of the most popular Udon dishes, especially during winter, the Curry Udon provides a double warm eating experience from how it is served and how the warm spices of curry invigorate and warm your body.

Now, if there is a direct competition for Udon vs soba, or you are just plain confused if the winner should be Udon or soba, the primary debate here is the battle between being healthy or being easier to digest. Interestingly enough, both these noodle types can be consumed hot or cold depending on the weather or the type of flavors you want to immerse yourself into.

The good thing about these noodles is that you can easily prepare them yourself and have that noodle craving satisfied right at the comfort of your own home. We have provided you with authentic Udon or soba dishes you can try and here are some Udon and soba product recommendations to get you started.

Udon Products

Here are our recommendations for Udon noodles available in the market.

Hime Dried Udon Noodles

Hime Dried Udon Noodles

Known as one of the most recommended dried Udon noodles in the market today, the Hime Dried Udon Noodles turn up the heat as one of our first recommendations for Udon noodles in this tough Udon vs soba debate. 

Made from premium wheat and buckwheat, this product is easy to cook and has a nice texture and consistency.

Hime Dried Udon Noodles

28.2 ounce Bag


Hakubaku Organic Udon

Hakubaku Organic Udon

This authentic, Japanese-style, wheat-based, and salt-free Udon product is one of the rising stars in the online market today. Originally from Australia, this quick-cooking Udon only needs 4 minutes of cooking in rapid boiling water without the need for oil or salt.

Hakubaku Organic Udon

8-9.5 oz packages


Myojo Udon Noodles (Chicken)

Myojo Udon Japanese

If you want your Udon cravings to be fixed quick, we turn up the heat with the Myojo Udon Noodles. These conveniently packed instant noodles carry a great array of flavor, bringing you close to the authentic experience. 

Myojo is known for its many variations, including chicken, or if you want it hot, they also have hot and spicy. Products like this will give you an Udon soba love, especially when you can’t decide if it is Udon or soba you like more, or maybe you love both sides in the Udon vs soba battle.

Myojo Udon Japanese

Pack of 15, 7.22 ounce each (total of 108.3 ounces)


Soba Products

Here are our recommendations for soba noodles available in the market.

King Soba Noodle Culture

Gluten-Free

Considered to be one of the most popular soba products in the market today, this is made by King Soba Noodle Culture from buckwheat and sweet potato. Quick cooking and with great texture, it is not surprising that this soba variant sells fast.

Gluten-Free Soba

3-Pack / 9 Servings (3 paper-tied servings in each 8.8oz package)


Maruchan Yakisoba – Eight Flavors

Maruchan Yakisoba Variety

We are starting to believe that when Maruchan decided to include eight delicious flavors of instant Yakisoba in one pack, they followed the saying “go big or go home,” and they delivered with flying colors, or we should say flavors for that matter. Showcasing such flavors as Shrimp, Savory Soy Sauce, Cheddar Cheese, and Teriyaki Beef, it’s literally party time for our Udon vs soba battle.

Maruchan Yakisoba Variety

Maruchan Yakisoba Japanese Noodle Bundle with By The Cup Chopsticks


Twin Pack Hime Dried Buckwheat Soba Noodles

Twin Pack Hime Dried Buckwheat

A proud product of Japan and made from best-quality buckwheat, this family-sized pack cooks very quickly and is easily customizable based on how you want your soba. 

Twin Pack Hime Dried Buckwheat
Twin Pack Hime Dried Buckwheat

2 pack of 25.40 ounce Bags


Udon or Soba: The Verdict

We performed a survey among our colleagues about their personal preference in this Udon soba affair, and honestly, what we got is only a middle ground. What we learned during this process is that whether you love Udon or soba, they are meant to be enjoyed separately. 

Some may love the organic texture of soba, yet no one can deny the beauty of each Udon strand. To each his own, but whether you are an Udon enthusiast or a soba advocate, this Udon soba relationship is better off infused into one harmonious meal pattern because of their similarities.

Conclusion

In this very interesting and intense gastronomic duel of Udon vs soba, we learned a lot about how different yet similar these two amazing noodles are. While that may sound contradicting, the Udon soba relationship is like yin and yang, and they are meant to be tasted at least once. Both possess great texture, and both possess the essence of Japanese culture, so we are all for an udon soba love-hate relationship that is so kawaii yet so oishii.

Mikasa Jones
Mikasa grew up in the dynamic Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Mikasa defines herself as an adaptive young woman who has been immersed into various cultures not just in the United States, but also her mother's hometown in Yokohama, Japan. She is a chef by profession and is an active member of the American Culinary Federation. She swears by a cup of hot matcha after a long day, saying that it helps her relax and focus on her tasks on a day-to-day basis.

Japan Daily Press is one of her outlets for sharing information with readers about the accessibility of commercially available Japanese products. She thinks that the misconception of sub-standard quality and taste of commercial food should be erased because there are a lot of manufacturers that are really stepping up their game in terms of developing products that are as close to authentic as possible.