By: Monica Pitrelli
Presenting your crash course on Japan’s four types of noodle and where you can track them down across Singapore.
Translating as “buckwheat” in English, soba noodles are made from a mix of buckwheat and wheat flour, though gluten-free, 100-percent buckwheat versions do exist. These light brown, spaghetti-like noodles have a distinctive, nutty taste.
Try them at: Shimbashi Soba (Paragon and Nex), which makes fresh buckwheat flour daily from Tasmanian buckwheat seeds.
The thickness of these soft white noodles makes both the round and flat varieties easily recognisable. Made of wheat, udon are best when made fresh (rather than dried and reconstituted later). In eastern Japan, they are commonly served hot in a dark soy sauce broth, while the west is partial to a lighter soy broth.
Try them at: Tamoya Udon, serving golden broth Sanuki udon straight from the Kagawa prefecture; or Pan Pacific’s renowned Keyaki restaurant (shown here).
Especially popular in the summer, sōmen are thin, white wheat noodles, similar to vermicelli, that are often served cold (and sometimes on ice). This noodle has its own ritual: nagashi somen, or “flowing sōmen”, is a summer specialty where diners use chopsticks to pluck fresh noodles from ice-cold water flowing through a bamboo flume.
Try it at: Skyve Wine Bistro where it’s served with pan-seared tuna, ebiko and sesame yuzu dressing.
Perhaps the most popular of all, ramen noodles can be thick or thin, straight or curly. Not to be confused with instant noodles or Chinese noodles (though ramen are thought to have originated in China), ramen noodles owe their yellowish colour and firm texture to kansui, an alkaline mineral water ingredient.
Try it at: Ippudo SG @ Mandarin Gallery for both original and modern takes on tonkotsu ramen; or a spicy miso version by Iggy’s Ignatius Chan at The Forum’s Uma Uma Ramen.