A Guide to Choosing the Right Noodle Bowl

In Japan, there are various types of bowls used for serving ramen and noodles. The shape and size of the bowl often depend on the type of dish being served, the region it originated from, and the preference of the restaurant or chef. When choosing your ramen or noodle bowl, there are a few key considerations - and some you might not have thought about before...

Browse our selection of noodle bowls, or find some great recipes to cook in our Bureau of Taste.

The History of Japanese Tableware

There is a long history behind the common Japanese bowl shapes. And these shapes have evolved over time in response to the changing tastes and recipes. For example, the chawan bowl has been used for centuries as a rice bowl, but it has also been adapted for use with noodles. The donburi, on the other hand, has been used for rice dishes since the Edo period and was later adapted for use with ramen dishes that are served without soup.

Here are some of the most common types of ramen and noodle bowls and their characteristics:

  1. Chawan: traditional Japanese rice bowl that is also used for serving noodles. It is a shallow bowl with a wide mouth and straight sides. The chawan is commonly used for udon noodles and other thick noodles that are eaten with a soup.

  2. Donburi: deep bowl with high sides and is typically used for serving rice dishes such as donburi (rice bowls with toppings) or oyakodon (chicken and egg over rice). However, it can also be used for ramen dishes that are served without soup.

  3. Hankotsu: a small, deep bowl that is used for serving soba noodles. It is designed to hold the broth separately from the noodles and toppings, allowing the diner to dip the noodles into the broth before eating.

  4. Jukkoku-bachi: a large, deep bowl that is used for serving ramen with soup. It is designed to hold a large amount of broth and toppings, allowing the diner to fully immerse the noodles in the soup. Find these under 'Ramen Bowl' at Sous Chef.

  5. Tatsuda-bon: used for serving tsukemen, a dish where the noodles are served separately from the soup. The noddle bowl is designed to hold the dipping sauce and is often accompanied by a separate bowl for the noodles. Find these under 'Noodle Bowl at Sous Chef'.

What to consider when choosing a noodle bowl

1. The size

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a ramen or noodle bowl is size. The size of the bowl can affect the amount of food you can serve, as well as how much broth you can include. Most people prefer to have a generously sized bowl that allows them to fully enjoy their meal without feeling cramped or short on space.

2. The style

The size of your ramen or noodle bowl may also depend on the style you choose. There are many different styles available, ranging from traditional Japanese designs to modern, minimalist bowls. Each style may have its own unique features that affect the size of the bowl.

For example, some traditional Japanese ramen bowls have a wide and shallow design that allows the noodles and broth to spread out more evenly. Other styles may have deeper bowls that are better suited for thicker broths or sauces. It's important to consider the style of the bowl when selecting the size to ensure that it will meet your specific needs.

3. The material 

A ceramic ramen bowl keeps your ramen hot for a longer period of time than its melamine counterpart. But melamine ramen bowls hold your soup noodles without transferring a large amount of heat to the bowls exterior, making them easier to hold. And unlike ceramic bowls, they are light weight and difficult to break. This is a perfect option in a household with many people and young children.

4. The food that you eat 

If you prefer noodle dishes with more broth and toppings, then a ramen bowl may be the correct bowl for you. Whereas if you prefer to eat your noodles with less broth, a shallower bowl may be more suitable.

Our Noodle Bowl Sizes

Blue Wave Ramen Bowl, 21cm

1. Ramen Bowls 

We have three different sizes of ramen bowls. Our most popular size is 21cm wide by 8.5cm deep. This is the most common size of ramen bowl that you will find in restaurants. We also stock a smaller ramen bowl which can be seen above on the right which is 17cm x 9cm which is great if you eat smaller portions but still want a deep bowl for the right amount of broth. And finally our melamine ramen bowls sit in between the two and are the perfect size for one pack of instant noodles, toppings and soup. 

Mizumi Noodle Bowl, 16.8cm

2. Noodle Bowls 

Secondly you have our noodle bowls which are slightly narrower in width but are also 8.5cm tall. They can hold slightly less broth and toppings that our ramen bowls but are perfect if you eat an average sized portions. Whereas the ramen bowls hold a very large portion of food. The narrower circumference also means that the bowls hold heat for longer. They are great for udon noodle soup dishes.

Senkei Shallow Bowl, Light Brown, 24cm

3. Shallow Bowls 

Finally you have our shallow bowls which are wider than our ramen and noodle bowls but much shallower in height. These allow the noodles to spread out more on the plate and are better for dishes with less broth. They are great for any soba or glass noodle dishes as well as noodle salads. The wide circumference also means this bowl will help your food cool down more quickly.

Perfect ratio of broth to bowl

The size of the bowl also affects the ratio of broth to noodles and toppings, and can impact the overall dining experience. The Japanese believe that there is a perfect ratio and your meal should only ever fill up to 70% of your bowl.

So, what types of broth can you serve in each bowl?

Noodle bowls that are deep and narrow, are suitable for thick and rich broths. Shallower bowls which are wider and shallower, ideal for thin and light broths. Ramen bowls are medium-sized and versatile, perfect for a variety of ramen styles.

What bowl should I choose?

Other Types of Japanese Bowls

There are also rice bowls and miso soup bowls that are frequently used in Japanese cuisine. Rice bowls are typically small, allowing for the perfect portion of rice. They are traditionally served to the side of your main plate. Miso soup bowls are deeper and more narrow, ideal for sipping the broth while enjoying the ingredients. Miso soup bowls also commonly come with a lid to help keep the soup warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ramen bowls and noodle bowls?

Noodle bowls are narrower and shallower, allowing for the noodles to spread out and be easily mixed with the broth. Ramen bowls are similar to noodle bowls, but are deeper and wider, allowing for a more generous amount of broth and toppings.

Browse our collection of Japanese Bowls or shop our range of noodle bowls here.


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