Japanese Cold Somen Noodles

Japanese Cold Somen Noodles on a plate with ice

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Cool: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
555 Calories
21g Fat
77g Carbs
14g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 555
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 26%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 3071mg 134%
Total Carbohydrate 77g 28%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 382mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Summers in Japan can be brutally hot. Favorite go-to dishes on these hot summer days are Japanese cold noodles dishes, such as somen. As you slurp cold somen noodles dipped in tsuyu, you feel your body starting to cool in the summer heat.

Somen are white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour, and they are very thin—about 1 millimeter in diameter. The dough is stretched, with the help of vegetable oil, to make very thin strips, and then air-dried (which is why you need to rinse somen noodles after boiling). 

Somen are usually served cold, with a dipping sauce called tsuyu. The dipping sauce is the same Japanese dashi-based broth used in hot soup, but more concentrated in flavor. The sauce is flavored with scallions and ginger. You can also add shiso leaf or myoga if you can find them at Japanese grocery stores. 

“This was easy to prepare, visually beautiful, truly cooling, and satisfying. If you can’t find shiso, substitute mint, Thai basil, or a combination of the two. Myoga is challenging to track down, so sub more ginger as the author suggests. Also, don't salt the water when cooking the somen. There's plenty of salt in the noodle itself.” —Diana Andrews

Japanese Cold Somen Noodles/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Toppings

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shiso leaves

  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated

  • 1/2 inch myoga ginger, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium scallion, thinly sliced

For the Dipping Sauce and Somen Noodles

  • 1/4 cup mirin

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup kombu dashi stock

  • 12 to 16 ounces dried somen noodles

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Japanese Cold Somen Noodles ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Prepare the toppings and place in separate serving bowls. Set aside.

    Topping ingredients in bowls; shiso leaves, ginger, scallions, and myoga ginger

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil.

    Boiling water in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Meanwhile, add the mirin to a medium saucepan over low heat and cook until just heated through, about 30 seconds.

    Water in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Raise the heat to high, add the soy sauce and dashi soup stock. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

    Water, soy sauce and dashi in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Remove from heat and cool completely, at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate if not using right away.

    Water, dashi and soy sauce in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Meanwhile, make the somen noodles. Add the dried somen noodles to the large pot of boiling water, gently stirring until the noodles are al dente, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

    Water and noodles in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Drain the somen in a colander and cool under running water or in an ice bath.

    Noodles and water in a colander

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Continue to wash the noodles, tossing with your hands until completely cold. Drain well.

    Noodles in a colander

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  10. Serve the drained cold somen in a large serving bowl or divided between individual bowls with the dipping sauces in individual small bowls and toppings on the side.

    Japanese Cold Somen Noodles on a platter with ice, and toppings and dipping sauces in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi


  • To serve this cold noodle dish, each person should have a portion of cold somen (or can take from a shared platter of somen) and a small bowl of dipping sauce. The toppings are added to the dipping sauce according to individual preference. Dip the noodles in the dipping sauce first before eating.
  • Traditional Japanese restaurants tie up the noodles to enhance the appearance of the somen. This is how you do it: simply tie the edge of somen noodles with cooking twine. This way, noodles will stay in one direction while cooking.
  • For a refreshing experience on a hot summer day, serve the somen and tsuyu (dipping sauce) very cold, even adding some ice cubes to the platter of drained noodles.
  • If you can't find shiso or myoga, you can leave them out and use more grated ginger and scallions. Although simpler, it will still be a tasty meal.

Recipe Variations

Here's another dipping sauce to try:

  • 2 cups unseasoned dashi (Japanese soup stock)
  • 5 tablespoons usukuchi shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)

To bulk up this meal, you can add julienned cucumber, ham, and egg omelet.

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