Last time Kamereo already introduced the best shops to get Japan’s most famous noodles – ramen! This week, we’re going to dive into Udon and Soba noodles. So what is Udon noodles and what is Soba? How are they different? Let’s find out today!
Udon vs Soba
Udon noodles are made by kneading wheat flour with salt and water that is then boiled. There are many different kinds of menu in Japan, especially udon with hot soup flavoured with soy sauce, dashi (the cooking broth used in Japanese cuisine), and mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine for cooking) is the most classic and common style. Chilled udon with a dipping sauce is popular in summer and udon with curry sauce is unique and tasty as well. Udon restaurants usually prepare a lot of toppings like vegetable tempuras or boiled eggs so you can add it and enjoy your preferences
On the other hand, Soba noodles are made out of buckwheat flour which is gluten-free. It has normally two types, one is made with 100% buckwheat flour called Juwari soba, the other is made with buckwheat and wheat flour called Nihachi soba. It is also served hot soup soba, but the most basic style is served chilled on a bamboo tray coming with a little cup of soy sauce for dipping. You can get tempura if you want, the combination of soba and tempura would be perfect.
Some people are confused the difference between udon and soba, but as mentioned before, udon and soba noodles are made from quite different ingredients; udon is made by wheat flour which has a white colour, soba is contained buckwheat flour and generally coloured with light or dark grayish-brown. In addition, while udon noodles are thick with doughy texture and a mild flavour, soba noodles are thin and soft with nutty flavour. Well, you can recognise udon and soba by appearances, textures and tastes.
So now that we’ve walked through the difference between Soba and Udon, let us give you some recommendations on where to get good Udon and Soba noodles in Ho Chi Minh city.
Donnosuke is known for their fresh noodles and the impressive big bowls.
You can choose between the 3 sizes of serving they have at Donnosuke. So, the smallest one will be Medium, if you want to upsize to a Large the it’s totally free. However, if you want to try the largest one – size XL – then there will be an extra charge of 20k, if you really have an appetite on that day then 20k is really worth it for a really big serving, right!
What most customers like about Donnosuke is the fresh taste of their noodles, which is said to be imported from Japan. Udon noodles here is just chewy enough, good texture and doesn’t break apart easily.
Below are the Udon and Tempura menus, Donnosuke has a very good variety here!
Two of the most popular Udon at Donnosuke are the beef udon and the Special Donnosuke Udon.
The broth (Dashi) here is known to be rich with some oil for a more robust taste. They also add a little oil in the broth to boost the flavour of the bowl.
The toppings are made from fresh or exported ingredients so from the broth to noodles to meat, everything goes together creating a harmony of taste.
They also have stir fried udon (you can choose between beef or seafood), which is a high recommendation from us since most of us is familiar with udon with soup only.
Besides, Donnosuke also has rice, sushi and a la carte food so the menu is big with lots of variety for you to choose from.
Address: 968 Nguyễn Văn Linh, Tân Phong ward, District 7
Average price: 100k/pax
Ebisu is the place for a lot of Japanese expats come to find the tastes and vibe of an authentic Japanese restaurant.
Ebisu may look a little quiet outside but once coming inside, the restaurant is very lively and almost always packed with customers.
Ebisu has a menu for hot (including stir fried udon) and cold udon…
Ebisu covers all the basic udon such as deep fried tofu pocket udon, udon with dipping sauce to Gyuniku udon (beef udon). Customers can also choose to go for their udon with special soup or udon with beef curry or cheese curry for a bigger boost of flavour.
If you visit Ebisu on a hot day then you can choose to try the cold udon. The two highlighted cold udon are Bukkake Udon with grated radish, ginger on top, cold Mentsuyu sauce is really refreshing with the sweetness of radish is a great combination, another cold udon we recommend is the fermented soy bean and yam udon, the buttery of fermented soy bean (Natto) and the chewy texture of noodles really go well together.
Address: 35 Bis Mac Dinh Chi St.,Dakao Ward, Dist 1 or 66 Song Hành st, An Phú Ward,Dist 2
Average price: 130k/pax
Marukame Udon is probably an already well known name with Udon lovers in Ho Chi Minh already. The brand has 8 restaurants in total, 1 in Binh Duong and 7 in Ho Chi Minh.
If you have been to the big malls in Saigon then you would have spotted at least one Marukame before. So which kind of udon Marukame has?
If you like simpler taste then you can order Udon Kamaage which is Udon noodle, soy sauce, spices and green onions. You can also try Spicy Tonkotsu udon or the chicken teriyaki tonkotsu udon for more flavourful taste.
Compares to the other 2 we mentioned above, Marukame is a little more affordable yet the menu still has a lot of variety and udon noodles is very fresh as well. If you like Udon then you definitely give it a try.
Address: find your nearest Marukame udon store here: http://www.marugameudon.vn/vi/he-thong-nha-hang/
Average price: 60k/pax
Compares to the following Soba restaurant we will mention below, Syunkato has a more various menu with appetisers, grilled dishes, deep fried dishes to hot and cold soba noodles, soba noodle fusions.
So let’s start with the more traditional hot and cold soba noodles.
For cold soba noodles, Syunkato has cold soba with duck meat, tempura, vegetables tempura or deep fried tempura batter. If you just want to have a normal soba noodles like the picture above, you totally can as well!
So how about hot soba noodles? You have a selection of a normal soba noodle soup or soba noodle soup with clams, duck meat or curry. The broth is rich and the chewiness and soft noodles, the two is just a perfect combination for a filling meal.
Besides the traditional hot and cold soba noodles. The restaurant also has soba noodle fusions which are dishes inspired and made from soba noodles such as soba salad, deep-fried soba noodles, soba croquette. If you want to try more unique dishes then these are great to order.
Address: 9 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh
Average price: 200k/pax (average for soba noodles)
Toride is a cozy soba and yakiniku shop, with menu handwritten on little boards instead instead of a fancy looking on like other shops. Their location was on Le Thanh Ton street before with the Yamabushi. Toride is so unique with the Japanese styled live dance performance to entertain the guests.
For soba, their menu includes a traditional cold soba noodles, for hot soba you can choose the normal one with toppings or a curry soba if you want more flavour.
Address: 78 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh
Average price: 80k/pax