Ramen vs Pho: Exploring Two Beloved Noodle Dishes

ramen vs pho

When it comes to noodle dishes, ramen and pho stand out as two of the most popular and widely loved. Both dishes boast delicious flavors and unique ingredients that make them an enjoyable dining experience. However, there are notable differences between ramen and pho, not just in their taste but also their origins and nutritional value.

In this article, we will delve deeper into these two noodle dishes and explore their distinct qualities. From the origins of ramen and pho to the different types of noodles used, we will help you understand and appreciate these delightful culinary choices.

Key Takeaways:

  • Both ramen and pho are delicious noodle dishes with their own unique flavors and ingredients.
  • While ramen originated in Japan, pho’s roots are in North Vietnam.
  • Ramen typically has a richer, meat-based broth, while pho’s broth is light and aromatic, made from beef bones.
  • Popular ramen toppings include chashu, soft-boiled eggs, bamboo shoots, and nori, while pho is traditionally garnished with bean sprouts, fresh herbs, lime, and chili peppers.
  • Pho is generally considered a healthier option, with fewer calories and carbs than some varieties of ramen.

What is Ramen?

If you’re unfamiliar with ramen, you might be wondering what it is and why it’s so popular. Simply put, ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish that consists of wheat noodles served in a flavorful broth. Unlike the instant ramen you may have had in college, authentic ramen is a delicious and complex culinary experience.

Types of Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each suited to different styles of ramen. Some common types of ramen noodles include:

Ramen Noodle TypeDescription
Chijire NoodleStraight and curly, with a slightly chewy texture
Hakata NoodleStraight and thin, with a firm texture
Soba NoodleThin and slightly curly, made from buckwheat flour

Flavorful Broths

What sets ramen apart from other noodle dishes is its flavorful broth. The broth is typically made using a combination of meat, bones, and vegetables, and can be seasoned with soy sauce, miso paste, or salt. Common variations of ramen broth include:

  • Shoyu: A soy sauce-based broth
  • Shio: A salt-based broth
  • Tonkotsu: A pork bone-based broth
  • Miso: A broth made with miso paste

Each style of ramen has its own unique flavor profile, and the toppings and seasonings can be customized to your liking. Whether you prefer a rich and savory broth or a lighter, more delicate flavor, there is a ramen style for everyone to enjoy.

What is Pho?

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish that has gained international fame for its aromatic broth and delicious flavors. It is a popular noodle soup dish that uses rice noodles as the foundation of the dish. The word ‘pho’ is pronounced as ‘fuh’, and it is often served with thinly sliced beef or chicken, garnished with bean sprouts, herbs, and lime. The dish is a classic example of the Vietnamese culinary ingenuity, crafting a broth that is both light and flavorful.

Pho Noodle Soup

Pho is famous for its unique, fragrant broth, which takes hours to prepare and perfect. The savory broth is seasoned with a combination of herbs and spices, including cinnamon, ginger, cloves, coriander, and star anise. The broth is then simmered with beef or chicken bones to create a rich flavor profile. The noodles used in pho are typically made from rice flour, giving them a delicate and slightly chewy texture.

The dish is then garnished with a variety of fresh vegetables, including bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, and lime. It is also served with a side of hoisin sauce and chili sauce to add additional depth and flavor to the dish.

Pho Variations

Pho is commonly served in two variations: pho bo (beef pho) or pho ga (chicken pho). The beef variation typically includes slices of rare beef that cook in the hot broth, adding a hearty flavor to the dish. The chicken variation uses sliced chicken breast, creating a lighter and more subtle flavor. Vegetarian versions of the dish also exist, using vegetable stock and tofu instead of meat.

Pho Nutrition

Pho is a low-fat, low-calorie dish that is rich in nutrients. A bowl of pho typically contains around 350-450 calories, depending on the ingredients used. The rice noodles used in pho are gluten-free, making it a great option for those with gluten sensitivities. The dish is also high in protein, with the meat and broth providing essential amino acids. Vegetarian or vegan variations of the dish can be made by using tofu or vegetable broth, making it a versatile meal option.

In conclusion, pho is a beloved noodle soup dish that offers a unique flavor profile and a healthy meal option. Whether you are a meat-lover or a vegetarian, pho has a variation to suit your taste preferences. Try this Vietnamese classic for a comforting and satisfying meal experience.

Origins of Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish that has become a staple in Japanese cuisine. Its origins can be traced back to Chinese-style noodles, which were introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. These noodles were commonly served in a soy sauce-based soup and were known as “Shina soba,” which translates to “Chinese soba.”

Over time, the dish evolved, and different regions in Japan started incorporating their unique ingredients and flavors. In the 1950s, instant ramen was invented, which skyrocketed its popularity worldwide. Today, ramen restaurants serve a wide variety of ramen styles, each with its unique broth, noodles, and toppings.

Regional Ramen Varieties

RegionDistinctive Characteristics
TokyoClean, clear broth made from chicken or pork bones and soy sauce-based tare. Typically served with thin noodles and chashu pork.
HakataCreamy tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, very thin noodles, and toppings such as chashu, wood ear mushrooms, and pickled ginger.
SapporoMiso-based broth with thick and chewy curly noodles, topped with butter, corn, and bean sprouts.

As you can see, ramen has a rich history and a wide variety of styles to choose from. It’s no wonder that this Japanese dish has become so beloved worldwide.

Origins of Pho

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish that has been around for over a century. The origins of pho can be traced back to the late 1800s, during the French colonization of Vietnam. It is believed that the dish was influenced by French beef dishes like pot-au-feu and subsequently modified to fit Vietnamese taste preferences. However, some sources suggest that pho existed before the French influence, but it was only in the early 20th century that it became the dish we know and love today.

The dish became popular in North Vietnam, particularly Hanoi, where street vendors sold the noodle soup from portable kitchens called “pho carts.” Pho was initially eaten as a breakfast dish but soon became popular as a street food, served throughout the day in local markets and street corners.

“Pho is known to be a street food eaten early in the morning or late at night… It is cheap, and it is delicious, and it is everywhere.” – Andrea Nguyen, Vietnamese chef and cookbook author.

The dish’s popularity grew even more after the Vietnam War, as Vietnamese immigrants brought the recipe with them to countries like the United States, France, and Australia. Today, pho is a beloved dish worldwide and a staple of Vietnamese cuisine.

Key Differences Between Ramen and Pho

While both ramen and pho are beloved noodle dishes, there are distinct differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look:

OriginsOriginated in JapanOriginated in North Vietnam
Type of Noodles usedWheat noodlesRice noodles
BrothRich, meat-based brothLight, aromatic broth typically made from beef bones
SeasoningSoy sauce or miso pasteFish sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili sauce


Ramen and pho differ in their origins, noodles used, broth, and seasoning. Ramen tends to have a richer, meat-based broth, while pho has a lighter, aromatic broth typically made from beef bones. The choice between these two dishes ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Ramen Toppings and Ingredients

Ramen is a versatile dish that offers a wide range of toppings and ingredients to make each bowl unique. Here are some popular ramen toppings and ingredients:

Chashu (Braised Pork Belly)A popular topping made by braising pork belly in soy sauce, sake, and mirin. It adds a rich and savory flavor to the broth.
Soft-Boiled EggsEggs that are cooked just enough to set the whites but leave the yolk runny. They add a creamy texture to the broth.
Bamboo ShootsCrisp and crunchy, these shoots add texture to the ramen.
Nori (Seaweed)Dried seaweed that adds umami flavor to the broth.
Menma (Fermented Bamboo Shoots)Bamboo shoots that have been fermented in soy sauce and other seasonings. They add a tangy and salty flavor to the broth.
ScallionsSliced green onions that add a fresh and pungent flavor to the broth.
GarlicMinced or sliced garlic that adds a pungent and savory flavor to the broth.
GingerMinced or sliced ginger that adds a spicy and slightly sweet flavor to the broth.

The broth in ramen is usually made with a meat-based stock, often chicken or pork. Soy sauce or miso paste is added to create different styles such as shoyu ramen or miso ramen.

Ramen toppings and ingredients can vary depending on the region in Japan where it is served. For example, Tonkotsu ramen from Kyushu often features rich and creamy pork broth, while Hokkaido-style ramen is known for its buttery and savory miso broth.

Pho Ingredients and Garnishes

Pho is a flavorful noodle soup dish that features rice noodles and a fragrant broth. The dish is served with an array of garnishes which add an extra depth of flavor to the soup. Here are some of the key ingredients and garnishes that make pho a beloved dish around the world:

Rice NoodlesThe main ingredient of pho is the rice noodles, which are made from rice flour and water. The noodles are thin and flat, and absorb the flavors of the broth well.
Beef or ChickenThinly sliced beef or chicken are added to the soup and cooked in the hot broth, making them tender and juicy. Vegetarian or vegan pho options may use tofu instead of meat.
BrothPho broth is made from simmering beef or chicken bones, onion, ginger, and spices. The resulting broth is fragrant and savory.
Bean SproutsBean sprouts are a common garnish for pho, providing a crunchy texture and a refreshing taste.
Fresh HerbsHerbs like cilantro and Thai basil add a unique aroma and flavor to pho, complementing the broth and noodles perfectly.
Lime WedgesLime wedges are served alongside pho, which can be squeezed into the soup to add a tangy kick and balance out the savory flavors.
Sliced Chili PeppersFor those who enjoy a bit of spice, sliced chili peppers are added to pho, providing a fiery kick to the dish.
Hoisin SauceHoisin sauce is a sweet and savory sauce that is often served alongside pho. It can be added to the soup for an extra burst of flavor.
Chili SauceChili sauce is a spicy condiment that can be added to pho for an extra kick of heat. It is typically made from chili peppers, garlic, and vinegar.

With such an array of ingredients and garnishes, it’s no wonder that pho is a beloved dish around the world, with many variations and styles to suit different preferences and tastes.

Nutrition Comparison – Ramen vs Pho

When comparing ramen and pho, it is important to consider the nutritional value of each dish. While both can be enjoyed in moderation, one may be a healthier option depending on your dietary needs and preferences.

Calories and Carbs

On average, a serving of ramen contains around 400-500 calories, while a serving of pho typically contains around 300-400 calories. However, the exact calorie count can vary depending on the type of broth and toppings added to the dish.

When it comes to carbs, a serving of ramen contains around 50-60 grams of carbohydrates, while a serving of pho contains around 30-40 grams of carbohydrates. This makes pho a better option for those following a low-carb diet or looking to reduce their carb intake.

Other Nutrients

Ramen tends to be higher in sodium due to its rich broth and soy sauce seasoning, with a serving containing around 1500-2000 milligrams of sodium. Pho, on the other hand, typically contains less sodium, with a serving containing around 800-1000 milligrams of sodium.

Both dishes can be a good source of protein, with a serving of ramen containing around 20-30 grams of protein and a serving of pho containing around 15-25 grams of protein. However, the specific amount can vary depending on the type of meat or protein included in the dish.

Which is Healthier?

Overall, pho tends to be a healthier option due to its lower calorie and carb content, as well as its lower sodium levels. However, it is important to note that the nutritional value of both dishes can vary depending on the specific ingredients and preparation methods used.

Regardless of which dish you choose, both ramen and pho can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

Popular Ramen and Pho Variations

Both ramen and pho have a range of variations that cater to different tastes and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types:

Ramen Types

TypeBroth BaseFlavorsToppings
Shoyu RamenSoy SauceSavory, saltyChashu (braised pork belly), nori (seaweed), menma (fermented bamboo shoots)
Shio RamenSaltLight, refreshingChashu (braised pork belly), spinach, green onions
Tonkotsu RamenPork bonesCreamy, richChashu (braised pork belly), narutomaki (fish cake), black garlic oil
Miso RamenMiso pasteEarthy, boldChashu (braised pork belly), corn, butter

Each of these types of ramen has its unique broth base, flavors, and toppings, giving it a distinct taste and texture.

Pho Types

  • Pho Bo: beef pho
  • Pho Ga: chicken pho
  • Pho Chay: vegetarian pho with tofu and vegetables
  • Pho Sate: spicy pho with a hint of peanut flavor
  • Pho Xao: stir-fried pho with meat and vegetables

Pho is typically made with beef or chicken, but vegetarian options are also available. The variations in spices and meat choices give pho its unique flavor and aroma.

Ramen and Pho in Restaurants

Looking for the best ramen or pho restaurant in your area? Look no further, we’ve got you covered. Here are some top-notch ramen and pho restaurants to satisfy your cravings:

Ramen Restaurants

Restaurant NameLocation
IppudoNew York City, NY
Totto RamenSan Francisco, CA
DaikokuyaLos Angeles, CA
Jinya Ramen BarSeattle, WA

These restaurants are known for their authentic and delicious ramen dishes, with a range of options to choose from. Whether you prefer tonkotsu, miso, or shoyu ramen, these places have got you covered.

Pho Restaurants

Restaurant NameLocation
Pho 79Westminster, CA
Huong VietHouston, TX
Pho So 1Falls Church, VA
Pho BacSeattle, WA

If you’re in the mood for pho, these restaurants offer some of the best options around. From traditional beef pho to vegetarian options, these places have something for everyone. And don’t forget the toppings! Add bean sprouts, fresh herbs, and lime wedges to elevate the flavors of your pho.

So next time you’re in the mood for a comforting bowl of noodles, head to one of these top ramen or pho restaurants near you. You won’t be disappointed!


In conclusion, both ramen and pho are beloved noodle dishes that offer unique and delicious flavors. While ramen originated in Japan and features wheat noodles in a rich and savory broth, pho has its roots in Vietnam and showcases fragrant rice noodles in a lighter and aromatic broth.

While each dish has its own distinct ingredients and flavor profiles, they both offer a satisfying and comforting meal experience that can be enjoyed at dedicated ramen and pho restaurants worldwide. So whether you’re in the mood for a hearty bowl of ramen or a lighter bowl of pho, you’re sure to find a delicious option that suits your taste buds.

Exploring the world of ramen vs pho is a delightful culinary adventure that is sure to please noodle lovers everywhere.

Thank you for joining us on this flavorful journey. We hope you have gained a deeper appreciation for these beloved noodle dishes and are inspired to try out new variations and flavors.


What is the difference between ramen and pho?

Ramen and pho are both noodle dishes, but they have distinct origins and flavors. Ramen is a Japanese dish with wheat noodles served in a flavorful broth, often accompanied by various toppings like pork and vegetables. Pho, on the other hand, is a Vietnamese dish with rice noodles in a fragrant broth, typically served with thinly sliced beef or chicken and garnished with bean sprouts and herbs.

Where did ramen originate?

Ramen originated in Japan and has its roots traceable back to Chinese-style noodles. It became popular in Japan during the Meiji era and has since evolved into a staple dish in Japanese cuisine. Different regions in Japan have their own variations and styles of ramen.

What are common ramen toppings and ingredients?

Ramen offers a wide variety of toppings and ingredients to enhance the dish. Popular toppings include chashu (braised pork belly), soft-boiled eggs, bamboo shoots, and nori (seaweed). The broth can be flavored with soy sauce or miso paste, creating different styles such as shoyu ramen or miso ramen.

What are the key differences in the broth between ramen and pho?

Ramen tends to have a richer, meat-based broth, while pho has a lighter, aromatic broth typically made from beef bones. The seasoning and flavor profiles also differ, with ramen often utilizing soy sauce or miso paste, and pho flavored with fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili sauce.

Is pho healthier than ramen?

Pho is generally considered a healthier option as it has fewer calories and carbs compared to some varieties of ramen. However, the nutritional content can vary depending on the ingredients and preparation method of each dish.

What are popular variations of ramen and pho?

Ramen has various types including shoyu (soy sauce-based), shio (salt-based), tonkotsu (pork bone-based), and miso. Pho is commonly served as pho bo (beef pho) or pho ga (chicken pho), with variations in the choice of meat and spices.

Can I find ramen and pho in dedicated restaurants?

Yes, both ramen and pho have gained popularity worldwide, and you can find dedicated ramen and pho restaurants in many cities. These establishments offer a variety of options to cater to different tastes and preferences.

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