Which noodles to use for Yakisoba | Soba noodles & recipes

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  December 21, 2020
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The Yakisoba dish has gotten many people curious to try cooking it at home. It’s a Japanese noodle stir-fry with veggies, meat, and sweet and savory sauce usually cooked on a hot plate.

In this post, I’ll talk about the question my readers have asked me a lot, and I decided to answer it in an in-depth guide to Yakisoba.

What noodles do you use for Yakisoba?

What noodles do you use for Yakisoba

Yakisoba, the classic Japanese dish, usually uses a special type of wheat noodles as its main ingredient. In Japanese “soba” means buckwheat noodles, but for Yakisoba, you don’t use soba noodles, but a ramen-like yellow wheat noodle called Yakisoba. You also need a special Yakisoba sauce and other ingredients like meat and vegetables to make it.

I’ll address the next questions you might have as well, like what to add to your dish and how to make a recipe.

Let’s start off with a delicious recipe and then I’ll tell you all about yakisoba noodles and all the info you need to know.

Beef and cabbage yakisoba recipe

Yakisoba noodles

Yakisoba beef and cabbage recipe

Joost Nusselder
There are no such things as exact recipes for Yakisoba because the ingredients can vary from one cook to another. But the one thing that gives the unique taste of Yakisoba is the Japanese soy sauce, so make sure you don't miss this one.
Here is one example of Yakisoba Recipe:
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 packs of Yakisoba noodles ( 8 oz)
  • 4 ounces of beef slices
  • ounces of cabbages thinly-sliced
  • 1 medium carrot julienned
  • 6 pcs shiitake mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 2 whole scallions julienned
  • Olive oil for pan-searing

Instructions
 

  • Make the Yakisoba sauce by mixing the soy sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Set aside.
  • Saute the beef slices until they turn brownish. Set aside.
  • Open the packs of Yakisoba noodles. Pour boiling water to the soba and lose them with a chopstick. Drain the soba and set them aside.
  • Take another wok and start stir-frying the mushrooms for about two minutes.
  • Add in other vegetables and keep stirring for another two minutes
  • Add in the sauteed beef, the noodles, and the Yakisoba sauce.
  • Continue the stir fry until they all mixed evenly and cooked thoroughly.
  • Yakisoba is ready to serve
Keyword Buckwheat, Noodles
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What is Yakisoba?

Yakisoba is a Japanese noodle dish stir-fried with meat and vegetables.

It’s a confusing dish because soba is associated with the brown buckwheat noodles but the noodles for this dish are actually similar to ramen and made of wheat flour.

Almost any kind of meat can go well in yakisoba:

The meat is usually chopped or thinly sliced for faster cooking.

Vegetables that are mostly used in the dish include:

People love Yakisoba because it is rich in flavor, thanks to the various ingredients and the unique taste of Japanese soy sauce.

Yakisoba leaves a huge room for creativity and personal preference as you can decide what ingredients to put in.

The next best thing about Yakisoba is that you can cook it in abundance and store the leftovers.

Put it in the fridge or freezer and reheat it when you want to serve it again. A lot of families in Japan make twice at much Yakisoba as the family’s portion for one dinner.

They reheat the leftovers the next morning and pack them in a bento box for their lunch.

Yakisoba can either be nutritious or not, depending on how you make the portion.

Too little vegetables and meat means a bigger percentage of noodles, which might give you excess carbohydrates. Try balancing your meal with more meat and veggies.

Yakisoba is actually one of Japan’s favorite quick lunches or hot plate dinners for the family, especially on busy weeknights.

How about a mix between okonomiyaki and yakisoba? It exists and is called okosoba!

Yakisoba noodles

The word “soba” means buckwheat noodles, which are commonly used in Yakisoba, however, they are not the top choice for Yakisoba recipes in Japan.

In Yakisoba, the soba means Chinese wheat noodles flavored with a savory sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce. 

Yakisoba noodles are yellow in color, made from wheat flour, and meant for stir-frying. They hold their shape and cook easily, much like ramen. The yakisoba noodles are pre-steamed so you don’t have to boil them. Instead, simply reheat them.

A popular type of noodle for this dish is called Mushi Chukamen (蒸し中華麺) which are a Chinese style of steamed noodle.

These are made from wheat flour, an alkaline solution called Kansui, and water. They have a similar texture to ramen and have a yellow color, but they are not egg noodles.

The noodles are steamed and then packaged so they’re ready to cook instantly.

However, it is also common to use regular wheat noodles like the one in ramen. People sometimes use egg noodles as well.

Soba noodles are actually one of the most popular of all of these kinds of noodles we’ve written about before, so it’s no wonder why Yakisoba is so well-liked.

The top two Yakisoba noodle brands are:

They make great instant yakisoba noodles and it takes minutes to make a delicious portion of the dish.

There are many plain soba noodles in packs, especially if you live in Japan. The popular brands include:

Some of these noodles are dried, so you need to boil them first and strain them.

There are also soba noodles that are already soft and wet. You just need to pour it with hot water to loosen it up.

Outside Japan, it might be a little difficult to find instant Yakisoba noodles in the supermarket.

But it is not a huge deal because there are many other options you can use as a substitute.

Whole wheat vermicelli or Chinese wheat noodles can be a close alternative. You can also try udon or spaghetti instead, but it’s not ideal.

Yakisoba noodle substitutes

Just because the Yakisoba recipes call for the special Yakisoba noodles doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and use other noodles.

Sometimes you can’t find the noodles in stores, especially if you don’t have Asian grocery shops nearby.

The top substitute for yakisoba noodles is ramen noodles. They have an almost identical color and texture and they will give the dish a similar flavor.

You can use fresh ramen which is best but packets of instant ramen are also good just don’t use the seasoning packets.

Read more about the different types of Japanese Ramen like Shoyu & Shio

Another popular substitute is chow mein noodles, which are about 1/4 inch thick. The fresh egg noodles are extremely tasty and are easy to stir-fry.

Soba noodles are a great healthy option for yakisoba. The buckwheat noodles are more nutritious and of course, they taste great.

You can also use Western-style spaghetti or linguine but be careful when cooking these – they need to be al-dente so that they’re not overcooked when you cook them on the hot plate.

Yakisoba sauce

Yakisoba has a unique base taste that comes from the Yakisoba sauce. Many people love making their sauces from scratch because it is pretty easy.

But due to the popularity of the dish, many companies provide ready-to-use Yakisoba sauce.

Some popular brands are

If you want to cook Yakisoba at home but never eat Yakisoba before, you can use this instant sauce first to know the actual taste of Yakisoba.

And then, you can start experimenting with your recipes.

Easy homemade yakisoba sauce recipe

There’s no need to go buy yakisoba sauce when you can make it at home using only a few ingredients and it tastes just as good.

To make 1/2 cup of sauce, you need:

Mix all the ingredients together and add to the stir-fry while cooking.

Instant Yakisoba

If using Yakisoba sauce is still too much of an effort for you, there is another quicker option. It is the Yakisoba instant noodles.

Similar to Asian instant noodles, the packet contains the noodle and the seasoning as well. Check out this beef-flavored instant yakisoba for example.

All you need to do is just boil the noodles for three minutes, strain them, and mix them with the seasonings provided in the package.

Some popular brands are Nissin, Maruchan, and Myojo.

Although they are easy and tasty, instant noodles are rather unhealthy as they contain preservatives and artificial ingredients. Not to mention the lack of vegetables and protein, although some brands are already fortified.

However, you can always make a healthier version of instant yakisoba noodles by adding fresh vegetables and proteins when cooking it.

Yakisoba toppings

Yakisoba is a simple stir-fry and it doesn’t require any toppings since it already has tasty meats and veggies, plus that sweet and savory sauce. However, if you want to garnish your plate, go right ahead. There are many Japanese toppings that add a bit of extra crunch or flavor.

The most common toppings are:

Cooking tips

Even if it’s not your first time making yakisoba, there are some good tips to help you make the perfect dish every time.

Use a griddle or a big wok which is spacious enough that you can really move the noodles around. The noodles must be stirred and mixed with the meat, vegetables, and sauce, so a small pan just doesn’t give you enough space.

Also, the ingredients must always be in contact with the hot surface to cook properly. Therefore, spread them out if you’re using a griddle and flip the meat over a few times.

Before you cook the noodles, loosen them up a bit so they don’t stick together. If you don’t loosen the noodles before you cook, they can break.

Avoid steaming the noodles while they cook – to do this, spread them out. Add some sesame oil to help the noodles stay separate.

If you like crispy noodles, fry them first, take them off the griddle or out of the wok. After the other ingredients are done, add them again and let everything cook together. This double cooking method makes the noodles super crispy and delicious.

Always stir-fry hard vegetables first and then the softer ones later. Not all vegetables have the same cooking time and you don’t want mushy fall-apart veggies like broccoli, for example.

How to serve & what to pair with Yakisoba

Honestly, yakisoba is a filling dish, and you can eat it for lunch and dinner and feel full. It doesn’t require side dishes but you can always add them to make it even tastier.

A popular pair is fried dumplings or potstickers. These can be filled with pork, chicken, or vegetables. What makes them great is that they are also fried, so they have a similar crunchiness as the noodles and cabbage.

If you’re feeling like one course isn’t enough, you can have a tasty miso soup as an appetizer. It prepares the stomach for the protein-filled noodle dish.

In the West and some Japanese restaurants, yakisoba is served on plates. The noodles are piled on and you can eat them like any type of pasta dish.

In Japan, you’ll often see yakisoba served as yakisoba-pan, which is the noodle stir-fry stuffed into a hot-dog type bun. It is topped with Japanese mayonnaise and enjoyed as street food.

The history of Yakisoba

Yakisoba has its roots from the Chinese Chow Mein, the stir-fried wheat vermicelli seasoned with salt and Chinese soy sauce.

Japanese made their version of chow mein using Japanese traditional sauces. The dish started happening around the 1950s, after World War II.

At that time, flour was rather expensive, so they started mixing it with cabbage, which is much cheaper and abundant.

Yakisoba went popular real quick. People love the taste, even the children. Many snack stalls started putting Yakisoba on their menu.

People then tried getting creative and made a lot of variations of Yakisoba. Up until today, this dish is still one of the prima donnas in the Japanese culinary arts.

You can find this dish at restaurants, food stalls, or even temporary booths in festivals.

Versions of Yakisoba

Here’s Just One Cookbook with their recipe:

You can serve Yakisoba on a plate. But some fancy restaurants will use a hotplate instead to keep it stays piping hot for a longer time.

On top of the dish, you can sprinkle a little bit of aonori (green seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (bonito flakes) or benishōuga (pickled red ginger).

As mentioned before, there are many versions of Yakisoba you can try throughout the country. Here are some of the most notable ones:

Sosu Yakisoba

It is the mainstream style of Yakisoba, where the noodles are seasoned with Worcestershire sauce and oyster sauce. The color is a bit brownish due to the sauces.

Shio Yakisoba

This is the Yakisoba with a lighter flavor as it does not use any brown sauce as seasonings.

The noodles are mainly flavored with salt and light sauces. This version of Yakisoba is the most similar to Chinese Chow Mein.

Kata Yakisoba

Also known as “hard Yakisoba”, the cooking of this dish started by deep-frying the plain yakisoba until it turns hard. The hard soba is then topped with vegetables and meat

Ankake Yakisoba

This version of Yakisoba has translucent thick starchy sauce instead of served dry like regular Yakisoba. People mostly use seafood instead of meat for this dish.

Yokote Yakisoba

Originally from the Akita Prefecture, Yokote Yakisoba uses thick and straight noodles as its main ingredients. The dish will include a soft-cooked sunny-side egg at the top of the serving.

Fujinomiya Yakisoba

This variety comes from Shizuoka Prefecture. Fujinomiya Yakisoba uses local noodles with a chewy texture, deep-fried intestines, and local dashi broth powder. Even the cabbages are from local farms.

More creations

Even the ready-to-eat Yakisoba dish can be processed further to make a whole new dish. Here are some food creations made from Yakisoba:

Yakisoba-pan

It is a hot dog bun stuffed with Yakisoba. The word “pan” means bread in Japanese.

Yakisoba-pan is another practical way to bring your noodles as an easy lunch. To make this dish, you need to make sure your Yakisoba is dry, or else your bread will turn soggy.

Modan-yaki

It is a style of Okonomiyaki from Osaka. Yakisoba is put on top of the Okonomiyaki dough while being grilled.

And then, you flip it so the Yakisoba layer gets grilled as well. The meats and veggies of the Yakisoba are what give the okonomiyaki a rich savory flavor.

Omusoba

It is a Yakisoba dish wrapped in a fluffy omelet roll and topped with tonkatsu sauce and mayo.

Omusoba is great for reusing leftover Yakisoba as it gives added protein and warmth. Omusoba is one of the most popular comfort foods in cold weather.

Sobameshi

It is a mixture of stir-fried rice and soba, along with vegetables and meats. The dish is originally from the Kobe City of Hyogo Prefecture.

Nowadays, sobameshi is available in frozen packs where you can find them in almost every supermarket in the country.

The taste of Yakisoba is irresistible, especially if you know how nutritious it can be. But what makes the food hit it off in Japan is its convenience.

It is easy to make and it leaves a lot of room for you to get creative. Even if you are not a fan of cooking, you can always find many variations of Yakisoba to taste.

Next, check out this Yaki udon recipe and find out how to make one of Japan’s favorite noodle dishes

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.