Japanese Ramen vs. Korean Ramen

Japanese Ramen vs. Korean Ramen

Jul 24, 2023 Tags 

Japan and Korea are home to a variety of mouthwatering dishes. The cuisines offered by both East Asian countries will surely charm your tastebuds, whether you’re eating in a restaurant or trying out street foods. So it’s no surprise that Japanese ramen and Korean ramen (which is also called ramyeon or ramyun) are pitted against each other.

But what is the difference between Korean and Japanese ramen, anyway? We will explore and answer this question in this post.


How Japanese Ramen Is Different From Korean Ramen 


Japanese ramen either pertains to the authentic, artisan-style local dish or the instant noodles that can be purchased from stores. On the other hand, Korean ramen are always instant noodles that come in packets. Let’s look at the major differences in detail.


The Prep Process


Preparing Ramen


Just by looking at the fundamental difference between Japanese and Korean ramen, you can easily tell that the former has a longer prep time than the latter. Authentic Japanese ramen requires the preparation of noodles, broth, and ingredients. On the other hand, you only need to mix all the ingredients in a pot and boil them to cook Korean ramen.

Ramen is a huge part of Japanese cuisine. Different noodle dishes are served not only in restaurants but also in food stalls they call yatai (屋台). The Japanese established the flavors of ramen broth, which are typically based on fish, chicken, beef, or pork. For a punch of flavors, cooks prepare the broth for a long time. The final result is either cloudy or transparent.

Korean ramyeon is mostly cooked in homes whenever people need a quick meal. They can also be seen on menus of self-service shops that specialize in serving different flavors of instant noodles and Internet cafes. Restaurants that have instant ramen usually serve it as a side dish or snack.


The Flavor


Regional Japanese Ramen


The flavor of Japanese ramen depends on the base of the soup or broth. Generally, they are meat-based. Korean ramyeon, however, is mostly spicy and ox bone-based, with the former being the most popular flavor.


The Ingredients and Toppings


Korean Ramen


Korean ramen ingredients are generally simpler than Japanese ramen. During or after it’s cooked, people add vegetables (such as carrots, spring onions, or leeks), eggs (that are either raw or semi-cooked), or even cheese. The latter is a favorite topping as it easily melts atop the steaming hot noodles. It is also used for moderating the spiciness.

The toppings of Japanese ramen, on the other hand, depend on the type of noodle dish. One example is tonkotsu ramen's chashu or marinated braised pork belly. Slices of this meat are added to enrich the flavor of the ramen. 

Another popular topping is menma or seasoned bamboo shoots. This ingredient adds a sweet element to the noodle dish.



The Type of Noodles Used


Ramen Noodles


If there’s one common thing between Japanese ramen and Korean ramen, it would be the main ingredient of the noodles. Whether it’s dry or fresh noodles, Japanese ramen noodles are wheat-flour-based. This goes the same for Korean ramyeon.


The Varieties


Types of Korean Ramen


Japan has a lot of ramen varieties, but in general, they can be boiled down into four major styles: tonkotsu (pork-bone-based), shoyu (soy-sauce-based), miso, and shio (salt-based). Different regions in the land of the rising sun also offer their own versions of ramen.

Korean ramen, although mostly spicy, comes in different flavors too. Aside from the two flavors we’ve mentioned previously, some ramyeon are derived from authentic Korean dishes.


Korea’s Top Ramen Makers


South Korean manufacturers truly excel in offering spicy noodles. And mind you, some of the offerings are not for the faint of heart. They are so piping hot that it feels like you’re punishing your tongue for even trying them!




Nongshim Ramen


Nongshim, South Korea’s biggest instant ramyeon manufacturer, has been enjoying popularity in the world ever since the dawn of the K-wave. Among its top offerings is Shin Ramyun, which people love for its unique spicy broth.

The manufacturer used Korean spicy soups as the bases for this world-famous instant ramen, creating a balanced peppery flavor.




Fire Noodle Challenge


Only people living under a rock wouldn’t know what Samyang is. Although it’s a well-known ramyeon brand, its popularity skyrocketed because of the viral fire noodle challenge videos where people attempted to finish an entire serving of the tongue-scorching Buldak-Bokkeum-Myeon.

Most of Samyang’s noodles are stir-fried. But they also have some offerings with servings that come with broth.


Japan’s Top Instant Ramen Producers


Japanese ramen encompasses both instant and chef-crafted dishes. But the good news is that manufacturers in the land of the rising sun incorporated elements of authentic ramen and offered them as instant ramen. Below are some of Japan’s renowned instant ramen makers.




Nissin Ramen


It’s no secret that Nissin is among the top brands when it comes to instant noodles. After all, this company is the one behind the iconic cup noodles. They offer a range of flavors including the classic meat-based broth, premium regional flavors, and stir-fry noodles among others.

Aside from cup noodles, the Japanese noodle manufacturer also has a line of products that come in packets.


Sapporo Ichiban


Sapporo Ichiban Ramen


Despite being late in the instant noodle production game, Sapporo Ichiban proved to be a strong contender, rivaling top Japanese manufacturers, including Nissin. The manufacturer delivers classic flavors as well as authentic ramen flavors. 

Cook one pack and you’ll be treated to a filling and tasty meal. You’ll surely appreciate the chewy texture of its thick noodles.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is ramen originally Korean or Japanese?


Chinese Noodles


Ramen from Japan and Korea was inspired by the Chinese dish called lamien. The Chinese noodle dish originated from the northern part of the country. It is said that Japanese ramen was first served in the port city of Yokohama during the 20th century.

Although Japanese and Korean ramen were influenced by the Chinese dish, these countries have developed their own distinct styles and flavors as time went on.


Is ramen in Japan better?


Quality Japanese Ramen


Although Japan is a clear winner considering how authentic ramen is prepared, Korean instant noodles remain an excellent contender as they have gained popularity worldwide due to their convenience and unique flavors.

Japanese chefs apply attention to detail when preparing broth and toppings, so it remains a favorite among noodle lovers outside Japan.
Korean ramyeon, on the other hand, is also a hit among enthusiasts because of its bold and spicy flavors. Manufacturers are not afraid to test the limits of how much people can take when it comes to the level of spiciness.


The Bottom Line


Most people can eat Japanese ramen because it offers flavors that are easy on the tongue. On the flip side, noodle enthusiasts who are ready to take on the challenging task of eating high levels of spiciness choose Korean ramyeon.

If you appreciate well-balanced and refined flavors, go with Japanese ramen. Conversely, when craving for piping hot flavors, Korean ramyeon is an excellent choice. 

And may have just what you need: check out our curated monthly Japanese ramen selection!