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The world of Asian noodles is expansive—there are rice noodles and wheat noodles; flat, wide and round noodles; and noodles made from root vegetables, just to name a few. Whether you’re seeking out a specific type for a new recipe or just looking to branch out in the kitchen, it’s helpful to know the major varieties out there.

Noodles are a staple food in many Asian cultures, and they have a long history—they can be dated back 4,000 years (!) to China. Some noodle dishes have symbolic meaning, like the Longevity noodles eaten for Lunar New Year. And though some types might look like Italian pasta, they’re vastly different, with textures varying from soft to firm, to chewy to springy. (Al dente does not apply here.) Some are dried, some are fresh, you get the idea.

How to cook and store Asian noodles:

When it comes to cooking, the method will depend on the type of Asian noodle you’re working with. Some noodles, especially rice noodles, require just a brief soak in boiling water; others aren’t boiled at all. Your best bet is to read the packaging instructions.

Storage will also depend on the type of noodle. Dried noodles can be stored in a cool, dark place (aka your pantry). Fresh noodles should be left in their packaging, kept in the fridge and used within a few days.

Where to buy Asian noodles:

These days, you can buy some types of Asian noodles in most grocery stores, but you’ll find the best selection if you head to Asian grocery stores and markets. If you don’t live near one, you can also find a selection of Asian noodles online.

Before diving in, you should know that our list is by no means definitive—there are too many varieties of Asian noodles to include in one go. Here, we’ve included some of the most common noodles you’ll find available in the United States. Read on for 16 types of Asian noodles to add to your pantry (and try cooking at home).

RELATED: 23 Easy Asian Noodle Recipes You’ll Want to Add to Your Weekly Rotation

types of asian noodles ramen
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1. Ramen

Origin: Japan

Primary ingredient: wheat

Ramen noodles are a Japanese noodle made of wheat flour, water, salt and an alkalizing agent that gives them their signature springy texture. They can be purchased fresh, but they’re more commonly found as instant ramen, the pre-cooked and fried version that’s compressed into a brick shape.

Try it: Vegetarian Ramen

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types of asian noodles udon
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2. Udon

Origin: Japan

Primary ingredient: wheat

These thick wheat noodles are popular in Japan (and elsewhere) for their dense, chewy texture. You can buy them fresh, frozen or dried, and they’re often the main ingredient in hot soups.

Try it: Yaki Udon

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types of asian noodles lo mein
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3. Lo Mein

Origin: China

Primary ingredient: wheat

You’re probably familiar with the dish served at your local Chinese restaurant featuring these noodles. They’re soft and slightly doughy, commonly combined with meat, vegetables and thick sauces that cling to their surface. They can be found both fresh and dried.

Try it: Lo Mein

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types of asian noodles soba
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4. Soba

Origin: Japan

Primary ingredient: buckwheat

Made from buckwheat, soba noodles have a nutty flavor and darker color than other wheat noodles. (They’re also high in protein and fiber, and gluten-free, since buckwheat is a seed.) Soba can be served hot or cold, and they’re traditionally eaten on Ōmisoka—New Year’s Eve—in Japan.

Try it: Miso Noodle Soup

$3 at Amazon

types of asian noodles somen
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5. Somen

Origin: East Asia

Primary ingredient: wheat

Somen are similar to soba, but made with wheat flour enriched with oil. This gives them a delicate texture. In Japan, they’re often served cold and unadorned, with sauce on the side for dipping, but can also be found in soups. In South Korea, they’re called somyeon.

Try it: Japanese Cold Noodles

$4 at Amazon

types of asian noodles rice vermicelli
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6. Rice Vermicelli

Popular: Throughout Asia

Primary ingredient: rice

These ultra-thin rice noodles are used in various cuisines and dishes throughout Asia, from stir fries to spring rolls to soups. They’re soft and chewy when cooked in water, but they can also be deep-fried until crisp.

Try it: Laksa Noodle Soup

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types of asian noodles rice sticks
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7. Rice Sticks

Popular: Throughout Asia

Primary ingredient: rice

Like their name implies, these flat noodles are made from rice. You’ll find them dried in three common sizes: thin, medium and wide. They’re firm and chewy when cooked, and found in a variety of dishes due to their popularity throughout Asia.

Try it: Stir-Fried Beef and Asparagus with Flat Rice Noodles

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types of asian noodles shahe fen
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8. Shahe Fen

Origin: China

Primary ingredient: rice

Also called chow fun, these flat, slightly wide rice noodles are common in Cantonese cooking and have a silky, soft texture. They’re often stir-fried and served with thick, savory soy-based sauces.

Try it: Beef Chow Fun

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types of asian noodles mixian
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9. Mixian

Origin: China

Primary ingredient: rice

Similar to shahe fen, mi xian are flat rice noodles found in Chinese cuisine. They’re wider and chewier than shahe fen and can be served stir-fried or in broth. In the Yunnan province where they hail from, they’re made in a process that involves fermentation.

Try it: Yunnan Rice Noodle Soup

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types of asian noodles glass noodles
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10. Glass Noodles

Origin: Throughout Asia

Primary ingredient: various starches

These translucent noodles go by many names, including cellophane and crystal. They’re clear, thin and glass-like, made from various starches like mung bean, potato, sweet potato and tapioca. They’re sold dried and reconstituted in liquid before serving. They originated in China, but you’ll find cellophane noodles in dishes throughout Asia.

Try it: Yum Woon Sen with Shrimp

$7 at Amazon

types of asian noodles dangmyeon
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11. Dangmyeon

Origin: Korea

Primary ingredient: usually sweet potato

Another glassy, starch-based noodle, dangmyeon are a Korean variety of cellophone noodle made from sweet potato starch. They’re slippery and dense when cooked, and the noodle of choice in the stir fry dish japchae.

Try it: Japchae

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types of asian noodles shirataki
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12. Shirataki

Origin: Japan

Primary ingredient: konjac

These round, opaque noodles are made from konjac starch, which comes from a type of Japanese yam. They’re super high in fiber and contain practically no calories, making them a popular “low-carb” food in recent years. In Japan, they’re served like other rice-based noodles, in soups and stir fries.

Try it: Lemongrass Pork Chops with Shirataki Yakisoba

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types of asian noodles wonton noodles
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13. Wonton Noodles

Origin: China

Primary ingredient: wheat

These springy, thin wheat noodles are made from the same dough as wonton wrappers. They’re usually sold fresh and are commonly served in soups.

Try it: Cantonese Wonton Noodle Soup

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types of asian noodles naengmyeon
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14. Naengmyeon

Origin: Korea

Primary ingredient: various starches

These Korean noodles are made from a variety of ingredients, including flour, buckwheat and starches like sweet potato and arrowroot. They have a dense, springy, almost jelly-like texture and are most often served in a dish of cold broth with vegetables and thin slices of meat or fish.

Try it: Bibim Nengmyun

$11 at Amazon

types of asian noodles lamian
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15. Lamian

Origin: China

Primary ingredient: wheat

These wheat noodles are hand-pulled into long strands and sold fresh. They’re the star in cháng shòu miàn, aka Longevity noodles, which symbolizes a long and happy life during Lunar New Year.

Try it: Long Life Noodles

Sold fresh at Asian markets

types of asian noodles silver needle noodles
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16. Silver Needle Noodles

Origin: China

Primary ingredient: rice and tapioca starch

These short noodles have tapered ends and a firm, chewy bite (that’s thanks to the rice and tapioca starch they’re made of) and aren’t the most common stateside. They’re commonly served in stir fries but can also be found in soups.

Try it: Bee Thai Bak

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RELATED: 20 Traditional Chinese Food Dishes You Need to Try, According to a Chinese-Malaysian Chef

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