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Asian Wheat Noodles 101

Asian Wheat Noodle Guide. Learn the basics of this Asian staple.

Asian Wheat Noodles

The cold weather made me do it….specifically the snowy weather we have been having in Utah Valley.  Winter’s chill has been sending me into the kitchen to make hot, nourishing, body-warming soup.

Along with all the soupy goodness begs the question, “What’s the difference between the Asian noodles?”  Today I am sharing 4 of the most common types of asian wheat noodles that I come across.  The list of noodle types is infinite, each region in each country having their own specific noodle type depending on what is available in their region.  For instance in South Korea, there is a mountainous provence where acorns are prevalent which gave rise to Dotori Guksu, an acorn flour noodle.

After cooking wheat noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water several times to remove the starch which keeps the noodles texture chewy and soft and not mushy.

Somyeon, Somen (flour, salt, water)

Very thin, long wheat noodles are known as Somyeon (Korea) and Somen (Japan).  In Korea they are the backbone of Guksu either warm or cold.  In Japan traditionally it is served cold, in ice water sometimes, during the Summer to help keep cool.  It is served with light dipping sauces.

The thinner noodles cook faster, this one in about 3 minutes.  It is a delicate noodle, it can get mushy if over cooked.  It’s great for slurping soups.

Somyeon Dry Somyeon

Jindao, Jjajangmyun, Mee Pok (flour, salt, water)

Thicker wheat noodles than the Somyeon/Somen is one called Jindao (Japan), Jjajangmyun (Korea), Mee Pok (China) noodles.  They are larger in diameter than Somen and flat.  They stand up to thicker sauces and hold up well in soup.  They have some bite with a chewy texture.  Can be used in stir-frys.

They typically cook in 3-7 minutes and are a more sturdier noodle.

Jindao Dry Jindao

Soba (buckwheat, wheat, salt, water)

Soba stands out in it’s unique color, dense texture and nutty flavor.  It has a good bite, not mushy.  It is a very versatile noodle enjoyed hot, cold, in soups, salads and stir-frys.  The higher the buckwheat content the better the quality.  It is possible to find 100% buckwheat noodles which makes it a good option for gluten free proponents.

Soba Dry


Chow Mein, Yakisoba, Pancit, Mie Goreng (Wheat Flour, salt, food coloring)

Chow Mein means ‘fried noodles’, not to be confused with Lo Mein which means ‘boiled noodles’.  Chow Mein (China) is also known as Yakisoba (Japan), Pancit (Phillipines), Mie Goreng (Indonesia, Malaysia) noodles.

They can be deep fried or pan fried without boiling them first.  They stand up well to stir-frys and can maintain a crunchy texture if not boiled first.

Chow Mein is so popular around the globe that you can find it cooked with every meat, vegetable and sauce imaginable.

Chow Mein Dry

Chow Mein

I hope this inspires you to adventure out into an Asian market and grab some noodles!

Bona Appetit y’all!



Alex Scola

America’s Test Kitchen