Udon Noodles vs Lo Mein: A Comprehensive Comparison

Udon noodles and lo mein are delicious noodle dishes but come from different culinary traditions. Udon noodles are thick and chewy, while lo mein noodles are thin and soft. Udon is a Japanese dish, while lo mein is Chinese. So, it ultimately depends on your preference and what flavours you’re in the mood for! Udon noodles and lo mein have distinct textures and are from different culinary traditions. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference and desired flavours.

Udon Noodles vs Lo Mein

Also Read: Beef Lo Mein vs Chow Mein: Unraveling the Noodle Mystery

ComparisonUdon NoodlesLo Mein
Type of NoodlesThick, chewy wheat noodlesThin, egg-based wheat noodles
Cooking MethodBoiledStir-fried
FlavorNeutralVariety of flavors depending on ingredients
Popular DishesKitsune Udon, Tempura UdonChicken Lo Mein, Beef Lo Mein

Also Read: War Mein vs Lo Mein: What’s the Distinction?

Udon Noodles vs Lo Mein

Udon noodles and lo mein are popular noodles often used in Asian cuisine. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of udon noodles and lo mein and discuss their unique features and flavours.


Udon noodles originated in Japan and have been a staple in Japanese cuisine for centuries. They are thick, chewy noodles made from wheat flour, water, and sometimes salt. Udon noodles are known for their soft and springy texture.

On the other hand, lo mein is a Chinese dish that features stir-fried noodles. “lo mein” translates to “tossed noodles” in Cantonese. It is believed that lo mein was introduced to the United States by Chinese immigrants and has since become a popular Chinese-American dish.

Noodle Texture

One of the main differences between udon noodles and lo mein noodles is their texture. Udon noodles have a thick and chewy texture, which gives them a distinct mouthfeel. When properly cooked, udon noodles have a slightly firm exterior and a soft, tender centre.

On the other hand, lo mein noodles are thinner and have a more delicate texture. They are made from wheat flour and egg, which gives them a softer and smoother texture when cooked. Lo mein noodles are often described as being slippery and silky.

Also Read: Chow Mein vs Lo Mein vs Chop Suey: Which is Best?

Cooking Methods

Udon noodles are often boiled in water before being used in dishes. They can add to soups, stir-fries or even enjoy independently. Udon noodles are versatile and can be served hot or cold, depending on the dish. In Japanese cuisine, udon noodles are used in dishes like kitsune udon (udon noodles with deep-fried tofu) and tempura udon (udon noodles with tempura).

On the other hand, lo mein noodles are stir-fried with various ingredients and sauces. They are cooked in a wok or a large skillet over high heat. Lo mein is often prepared with vegetables, meat, and a flavorful sauce. Common ingredients used in lo mein include carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and soy sauce.

Flavour Profiles

Udon noodles have a mild, slightly wheaty flavour that pairs well with various ingredients. They absorb the flavours of the broth or sauce they are cooked in, making them a versatile choice for different dishes. Udon noodles can enjoy in hearty soups with rich broths or stir-fries with savoury sauces.

Lo mein noodles have a more neutral taste compared to udon noodles. They serve as a base for the flavours of the ingredients and sauces used in the dish. The sauce used in lo mein can vary, but it often includes soy sauce, garlic, and other seasonings. The result is a dish with a savoury, umami-rich flavour.

Popular Dishes

Udon noodles are used in a variety of Japanese dishes. Some popular udon dishes include:

  • Tempura Udon: Udon noodles served in a savoury broth with crispy tempura on top.
  • Kitsune Udon: Udon noodles topped with sweet and savoury fried tofu.
  • Nabeyaki Udon: Udon noodles are served in a hot pot with toppings like tempura, egg, and vegetables.

Lo mein, on the other hand, is a popular dish in Chinese-American cuisine. Some popular lo mein dishes include:

  • Vegetable Lo Mein: Lo mein noodles stir-fried with a variety of vegetables.
  • Chicken Lo Mein: Lo mein noodles stir-fried with tender chicken and vegetables.
  • Beef Lo Mein: Lo mein noodles stir-fried with juicy beef and vegetables.

Also Read: Lo Mein vs Chow Mein: What’s the Difference?

Final Comment

While both udon noodles and lo mein are delicious and versatile noodles, they have distinct differences. Udon noodles are thick and chewy, while lo mein noodles are thinner and softer. Udon noodles are used in Japanese cuisine, while lo mein is a popular Chinese-American dish. Understanding the characteristics and flavours of each type of noodle can help you choose the perfect dish for your next Asian-inspired meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between udon noodles and lo mein?

Udon noodles are thick and chewy wheat noodles from Japan, while lo mein is a type of Chinese egg noodle that is thinner and softer in texture.

Can udon noodles be used in place of lo mein noodles?

Yes, you can use udon noodles as a substitute for lo mein noodles. However, keep in mind that the texture and taste will be different.

Are udon noodles gluten-free?

No, udon noodles are not gluten-free, as they are made from wheat flour. You should avoid udon noodles if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy.

Are lo mein noodles gluten-free?

Traditional lo mein noodles are made from wheat flour and are not gluten-free. However, you can find gluten-free alternatives from rice or other gluten-free flour.

How do you cook udon noodles?

Udon noodles are boiled in water until cooked but retain some chewiness. Follow the instructions on the package for specific cooking times.

How do you cook lo mein noodles?

Like cooking pasta, lo mein noodles are usually boiled in water until they are al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Can udon noodles be stir-fried?

Yes, udon noodles can be stir-fried. They can absorb flavors well and hold up to the heat, making them a great choice for stir-frying.

Can lo mein noodles be stir-fried?

Yes, lo mein noodles are stir-fried with various ingredients. Stir-frying gives them a delicious flavor and helps coat the noodles with sauce.

What are common toppings for udon noodles?

Common toppings for udon noodles include tempura, green onions, sliced meat or tofu, nori (seaweed), and kamaboko (fish cake).

What are common toppings for lo mein?

Common toppings for lo mein include vegetables (such as carrots, mushrooms, and bok choy), meat or seafood, and sauce (such as soy sauce or oyster sauce).


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