Getting you up to speed on some of Asia’s most common noodle dishes. We are constantly updating this section often, so check back for photos, details and more!
Ramen – Chinese style wheat noodles in a meat based broth flavored with soy sauce or miso. Both the noodles and broth can vary in type. The broth is typically made of stock from pork or chicken, that is then combined with different ingredients such as soy sauce, miso or kombu. Ramen is often topped with sliced pork, seaweed, green onion, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts. (Check back for more on all the different kinds of ramen!)
Soba – Japanese buckwheat noodles served chilled with a dipping sauce or warm in soup. Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat and typically uses 40%-100% of buckwheat flour to make the noodles. The dipping sauce or soup is often soy sauce based and served with a variety of toppings such as green onion, aburaage (a type of thin deep fried tofu), tempura and other veggies.
Somen – Very thin white noodles made of wheat flour which is usually served cold in a Tsuyu dipping sauce. Somen is a mild dish is often topped with green onion and ginger for extra flavor. While typically cold it can be served in hot broth as well.
Udon – Thick, chewy and white wheat flour noodles served in a hot broth or served cold. The dish is typically served in a hot broth made of dashi, soy sauce and mirin and garnished with thinly sliced green onion. Toppings such as tempura, aburaage (type of deep fried tofu pocket), or fish cakes are also common.
Crispy Fried Noodles (Hong Kong style) – Thin egg noodles pan fried until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, mixed with vegetables, meat or seafood and topped with a light gravy. This classic Hong Kong noodle dish pairs well with other sides, especially dim sum.
Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beef – Wide rice noodles stir fried with beef, bean sprouts and onions. The key in making this dish is having a very hot wok so all the strips of beef and other ingredients cook quickly. Soy sauce adds a savory flavor but sometimes oyster sauce is also used.
Wonton Noodle Soup (Hong Kong style) – Thin egg noodles with wontons in a broth made from dried flounder (or seafood). The wontons are usually filled with pork and shrimp. Fresh egg noodles are ideal and should be very al dente. The simple dish is usually topped with yellow chives.
Biang Biang Mian – Very wide or broad hand-pulled wheat based noodle with a thick, chewy texture, served with chilis, oil, vinegar and various vegetable and meat toppings. The dish is considered described as being like a belt, owing to their thickness and length. The character “biang” is one of the most complex Chinese characters with 57 strokes in traditional form, and 43 in simplified. Learn more on this special noodle here.
Liang Pi (凉皮) | Cold Skin Noodles – Cold dish made from wheat or rice flour, tossed with bean sprouts, cucumbers, cilantro, and pieces of spongy gluten, in soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, and chili oil. The dish is usually served cool or room temperature, rather than cold and has a tangy, spicy flavor from the vinegar and chili. There are variations of the dish in different regions, but the dough for the noodles are hand made and sliced into thick strands.
Sao Zi Mian (臊子面) | Diced Meat Soup Noodles – Diced or ground meat with hand-pulled noodles in a pork based spicy and sour broth. This tangy, sour dish is very fragrant and hearty with the meat and a variety of vegetables including carrots, scallions, potatoes, tofu and leafy greens.
Cong You Ban Mian (葱油拌面) | Scallion Oil Noodles – Wheat noodles tossed in a combination of dark soy sauce, vinegar, oil and topped with a generous portion of fried scallions. The noodles used are typically a thinner type and the dish is always served dry but can have variation of toppings.
Huang Yu Mian (黄鱼面) | Yellow Croaker Noodle Soup – Thin wheat noodles in a rich broth made of yellow croaker fish stock and soy sauce, served with pieces of the fish and green vegetables.
Dan Dan Noodles (担担面) – Wheat noodles in a spicy chili broth or sauce with minced pork and scallions sprinkled over. While this classic dish from the Sichuan province in China is spicy, variations of it with sesame or peanut sauce can replace the chili oil for a more creamy sweet taste.
Tian Shui Mian (甜水面) | Sweet Water Noodles – Thick, square cute wheat based noodle mixed with sesame oil, soy sauce, ‘red’ soy sauce (black soy seasoned with various dry spices), vinegar, bean sauce, sesame seeds, red chili oil, ground Sichuan peppercorns, sugar, and MSG. This dish is often served in small portions as a snack. The flavors adhere well onto the thick chewy noodles.
Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian (红烧牛肉面 (洪小牛肉面) | Braised Beef Noodle Soup – Noodles in a braised or stewed beef soup. The soup’s flavor is made of beef bones, tomato paste, soy sauce, star anise, amongst many other spices. Wheat flour noodles are most common, but egg noodles can also be used. The dish is topped with bok choy and cilantro. There are many variations including one that uses tomatoes as part of the broth.
Japchae – Sweet potato noodles with mixed veggies stir-fried in sesame oil. These noodles are fried with soy sauce, sugar and topped with sesame seeds and scallions. A perfect side to Korean BBQ or eaten alone.
Naengmyeon – Cold buckwheat noodles served in a chilled tangy vinegar soup. The dish is often topped with cucumbers, asian pear, boiled egg, pickled radish, and cold boiled beef. Another variation of the dish is bibim naengmyeon which is made up of the same noodles but served with hot pepper paste (gochujang), instead of the cold broth.
Pad Thai – Stir-fried rice noodle dish with veggies and meat. The dish is mixed with stir-fried eggs, chopped tofu, meat or shrimp and bean sprouts. Flavors of tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, chill pepper and palm sugar are often included. It’s usually topped with chopped peanuts and a lime wedge on the side.
Pad See Ew – Broad flat rice noodles stir-fried with veggies and meat. It can be made with chicken, pork or beef with Chinese broccoli and soy sauce. A little sugar gives the dish a hint of sweetness.
Pho – Rice noodles in a beef broth (chicken and seafood broths are also common). The broth is made of fatty beef bones and spices (ginger, star anise, cardamom, amongst others). It’s often served with Thai basil, mint, bean sprouts, chill peppers and cilantro.
Bún Cha – Dry noodle dish made with thin rice noodles and grilled pork, topped with herbs and pickled vegetables. The dipping sauce is typically made of a base of fish sauce, sugar, lemon or lime juice, vinegar, crushed garlic and chilli.
Mohinga | Fish Noodle Soup – Rice noodles in a fish broth (typically catfish). The dish uses strong and unique ingredients including chickpea flour, banana tree stem, lemongrass, chill and shrimp paste. You can choose to add cilantro, boiled egg and rice or shallot fritters on top.
Ohn No Kau Swe | Coconut Noodles – Chicken coconut soup over noodles. Various noodles including rice, wheat flour or Chinese egg noodles can be used, though I prefer egg noodles. The thick broth consists of coconut milk, chicken broth with flavors of onion, ginger and turmeric powder.