Japanese ramen vs Korean ramen/ramyeon/ramyun: Is ramen Japanese or Korean?

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  October 27, 2021

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Have you ever noticed the word “ramen” spelled in multiple ways?

The most common written forms of the word are ramen, ramyun, and ramyeon. But do you know what the differences between the 3 really are?

Keep reading to find out why there are 3 forms of the word “ramen”!

Ramen vs Ramyun vs Ramyeon

Now, if you want to have some fun, you should taste both the most popular Korean and Japanese instant ramen brands and you’ll instantly know!

Ramen brand Images
Most popular Korean ramyun: Shin Ramyun Most popular Korean Ramyun: Shin Spicy Noodles

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Most popular Japanese ramen: Ichiran Tonkotsu Most popular Japanese Ramen: Ichiran Tonkotsu

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Nongshim is a South Korean food and beverage company headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Established in 1965 under the name Lotte Food Industrial Company, Nongshim products are now sold across Asia with more than 46 countries exporting them to other continents as well.

Nong Shim is a family-owned enterprise that was founded by YeoJin Bae (Bael). It began when he first created his own recipe for noodles made from flour mixed with konjac powder, obtained through boiling dried white yam ‍(kochu).

Ichiran Ramen is a Japanese ramen food service business specializing in tonkatsu ramen. The chain restaurant began as an izakaya before it was renamed Ichiran and became popular for its signature dish, the Tonkkotsu Shoyumai (pork noodles with poached eggs).

Ramen

Ramen is the English spelling of Japanese ramen. But it actually doesn’t mean the instant ramen noodles we’re familiar with.

Ramen is a type of Japanese cuisine involving fresh noodles in a hot broth (usually a meat base) with extra toppings such as bean sprouts, seaweed, tonkatsu (pork), garlic, spring onions, and more.

It’s made from scratch and is absolutely delicious!

In the West, however, this spelling of ramen is used to refer to instant ramen noodles, which is what you’re likely most familiar with.

So if you’re in Japan and see “ramen”, you’re likely going to find a real ramen restaurant. If you’re in the West and see “ramen”, you’ll likely find instant ramen noodles.

Ramyun and ramyeon

Ramyun and ramyeon, on the other hand, are two different ways to spell the Korean word for instant ramen noodles. The reason it’s spelled differently is that you can romanize the second vowel in two different ways: “u” or “eo”.

When you say “ramen” in Korea, however, it’s used to refer to the traditional Japanese non-instant ramen.

Ramyun or ramyeon usually refer to Korean-style spicy instant ramen, which is based on traditional Japanese cuisine. Ramyun often comes in cup or packet form.

There are a number of globally popular Korean ramyun brands that fall into this category: Shin Ramyun, Jin Ramen, and more.

So if you’re in South Korea or in the West and see “ramyun” or “ramyeon”, you’ll find Korean-style instant noodles, likely from a Korean brand. If you’re in South Korea and you see “ramen”, you’ll find a real Japanese ramen restaurant.

Now you know the difference between ramen, ramyun, and ramyeon!

“Ramen” refers to Japanese ramen cuisine in Japan and South Korea, and refers to instant noodles in the West.

In Korea and in the West, both “ramyun” and “ramyeon” are used to refer to Korean-style instant noodles, which most Koreans eat regularly. No matter which ramen you choose, you’re sure to be in for a tasty treat. Bon appetit!

Also read: these are the different types of ramen broth you can order

With tasty noodles, a flavorful broth, and yummy seasonings, how could you not love ramen?

Most people think of those instant noodle packets and cup-o-noodles when they hear of ramen.

However, this Asian dish is more complex and varied than you’d think, and the Japanese version definitely differs from the Korean one.

Japanese ramen vs korean ramen

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But here’s actually only 1 true ramen: fresh noodles in a savory meat-flavored broth.

The other noodles that are most often mistaken for ramen are called instant noodles or instant ramen.

Keep in mind that ramen and instant ramen are different; the first is fresh, whereas the second is processed and dried.

The Korean version of ramen is quite different from the Japanese one, but if you see the word “ramen” in Korea, it refers to the Japanese fresh noodles dish. However, ramyeon is much more popular in Korea and refers to packaged instant ramen noodles, usually a lot spicier than its Japanese counterpart.

In this post, I’ll explain what you need to know about Japanese and Korean ramen, including the differences, varieties, nutritional value, and more.

You’ll want to hear all about the different ramyeon you can find in Korea and the best fresh ramen in Japan. I’ll also tell you how to cook instant noodles so you can bring a bit of Asian flavor into your home!

What’s the difference between Korean and Japanese ramen?

In Japan, ramen is a dish with fresh, raw noodles boiled in a savory broth made from chicken or pork stock. It has a mild, umami flavor.

They also have instant noodles in Japan, but they aren’t traditional ramen. Instead, instant ramen refers to those packaged dry wavy noodles.

In Korea, instant noodles are sold under the name “ramyeon”, a regional variation on the Japanese word “ramen”.

Ramen takes on a different meaning in Korea than in Japan. So ramyeon is a dish made from packaged instant noodles boiled in a chicken broth made from powdered seasoning. The most common variety has a spicy chicken or kimchi flavor.

A probable source of confusion for many is the use of the word “ramen”. If you come across the word ramen in Korea, it refers to the same fresh Japanese noodle dish.

However, ramyeon is much more popular in Korea and refers to packaged instant noodles.

The most popular brand of ramyeon is NongShim, whereas the most famous Japanese ramen noodle brand is Nissin Foods.

What is Korean ramen?

There are 2 main types.

The first is called ramen and refers to the fresh noodle soup dish you find in Japanese restaurants. The dish is borrowed from Japan, but it’s usually spicier.

The second is the more popular dish, and it’s called ramyeon, which refers to dried instant noodles and cup noodles. The dish consists of a spicy chicken stock made from instant powder and fried pre-packaged wavy noodles.

Ramyeon is a convenient dish to make, and it only takes a few minutes to cook, which is why it’s very popular in Korean households. The soup base is made with processed seasoning packets.

Different varieties of Korean ramyeon

Most ramyeon tastes spicy and salty. The most common varieties of ramyeon include:

Kimchi is a very typical Korean hot and fermented dish that you’d never find in Japanese ramen. And mostly, Japanese ramen isn’t spicy at all.

How to cook ramyeon

One of the reasons why ramen noodles are so popular is because preparing them requires no cooking skills. Anyone can do it in minutes!

It’s ready to eat and requires the user to boil the noodles in water and flavor with a packet of seasoning.

You can also find the noodles in styrofoam cups. These require no preparation; simply add boiling water, drop the seasoning inside, and it’s ready to eat!

What is Japanese ramen?

Traditional Japanese ramen is a hot soup made with raw, fresh noodles that are boiled until firm, with toppings such as meat and vegetables in a flavorful broth.

In terms of flavor, Japanese ramen is more subtle, with an umami taste. So it’s not as spicy as its Korean counterpart.

Most ramen is made with chicken, seafood, or pork stock. The stock is the base ingredient for the soup.

Also check out these perfect ramen side dishes to make it a full meal

Different varieties of Japanese ramen

There are many types of ramen, but these are the most popular varieties:

When you visit a Japanese ramen restaurant, you’re getting fresh noodles.

But you can also find packets of dried noodles in supermarkets to make your own instant soup at home.

How to cook Japanese ramen

If you’re making instant noodles, all you need to do is boil the noodles or add hot water and the seasoning packets.

If you’re cooking fresh ramen, you need to cook the noodles for approximately 2 or 3 minutes until firm.

To make the broth, add your seasonings and bring to a boil. Next, boil or cook your meats and vegetables on a hot pan for a couple of minutes.

Then, combine all the ingredients in a bowl to make the soup!

Also read: 9 best ramen toppings to order or use when making ramen at home.

Korean vs. Japanese ramen: history

In 1958, Japanese national Momofuku Ando invented the world’s first instant noodles.

His dish quickly gained massive popularity. The first flavor was a classic chicken broth ramen.

The first Korean instant noodles were invented by a man named Samyang Ramyun in 1963.

The Korean War caused mass poverty and food shortages, so he borrowed from Japanese ramen and made it an affordable meal option.

The rest of the world became acquainted with ramen in the early ’70s, and this dish has been a favorite ever since!

Korean vs. Japanese ramen: nutrition

In general, ramen and ramyeon are not considered healthy food.

Instant noodles are low in calories, so they don’t make you gain a lot of weight.

However, they lack the key nutrients the body requires. And ramen is very high in sodium as well, which is concerning for many.

Now more than ever, consumers are demanding healthier foods.

So manufacturers are constantly creating new low-sodium, gluten-free, and even vegan varieties. Check out this Gluten-Free Millet & Brown Rice Ramen With Miso Soup, for example.

Japanese ramen soup is still healthier in comparison to Korean ramyeon because it’s made with fresh noodles and ingredients. The seasoning packets and dried noodles in ramyeon are full of sodium, sugars, and preservatives.

Chow down on delicious ramen/ramyeon/ramyun

The next time you’re out for a quick and easy meal, don’t forget to try spicy Korean ramyeon. You can find it in most Asian food shops and cook it at home.

If you want a more savory taste, fresh Japanese ramen soup is sure to delight you.

Wondering what’s the difference between ramen and pho? Read Ramen vs. Pho | Both Noodles with Broth, But a World of Difference.

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.