As we celebrate one of the most popular food inventions ever with World Pasta Day on October 25, let’s take a look at some of the most famous noodle dishes the world over.


The star of the show: pasta. From the short trofie to the long and thin capellini, there are literally hundreds of varieties of pasta, and the ways to cook them are just as plenty.

Pasta is one of the most popular dishes the world over, and it’s not hard to see why. Throughout Italy, each region has its own specialties and renditions of how to cook it. Whether from a box or handmade from scratch, the possibilities are endless.

It is also extremely versatile as a dish; you could eat spaghetti with a simple tomato meat sauce alone in your dorm room, or you could share a serving of luxuriously sinful tagliolini al Tartufo over a bottle of Barolo with a group of friends. The possibilities are endless!


The Italians may have popularized the dish, but China remains the birthplace of noodles and avid consumer of the many variations of them in upscale restaurants and humble roadside carts.

A typical roadside stall selling breakfast food, including noodles, in China

Each region has its prided noodle dishes that are more or less influenced by the dominant favored taste and ingredients found locally. For example, the spicy Dan Dan Noodles sprung from the chili-oil-flecked Sichuan cuisine, while Yunnan’s famous Guo Qiao Mi Xian (Crossing the Bridge Noodles) employs fresh ingredients with earthy flavors, reminiscent of the local bounty.

Crossing the Bridge Noodles, with signature pickled radishes on top

Whether you like your noodles hearty or light, China has a specialty dish for it. Herb-laden Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles is especially nourishing during cooler weather, while the Cantonese specialty wonton noodles typically has shrimp or meat wontons on thin egg noodles and lightly savory soup.

Beef noodles

What’s great is that you don’t necessarily have to travel to a certain area of the country to get a taste of any of the noodle dish, since you can pretty much find some of the more popular menu easily nationwide.


Udon. Ramen. Soba. Somen. These are some of the popular types of noodles that we see being served all around Japan and the world.

Osaka, for example, is famous for its kitsune udon. In neighboring Kyoto, you can find the famous volcano ramen where your bowl of noodles is set aflame right in front of you. There’s also the Hiroshima okonomiyaki, which is similar to the egg pancake from Osaka, but with the addition of fried noodles.

From Nissin’s instant noodles that can be eaten from a cup to Michelin Starred Tsuta’s black truffle shoyu soba, there is never a shortage of noodle dishes in Japan and it is undeniable how much Japan had influenced our consumption patterns of noodles.

Noodle workshop at Cup Noodles Museum, Yokohama

You can even find true marriage of east and west cuisine in wafu pasta, Japan’s take on the Italian dish. Wafu pasta is the combination of cooked pasta tossed with Japanese ingredients. Some favorites include cod-roe sauce pasta and Shimeji mushroom.

Mentaiko pasta


Everyone loves Phở (pronounced fuh, not fo). From the streets of Hanoi to restaurants in Los Angeles, Phở is everywhere. Served with beef or chicken, it comes in a savory broth and flat rice noodles, usually accompanied by heaps of fresh herbs and vegetables.

Of course, there’s also bún thịt nướng and bún chả. While slightly less famous than their soupy rival, they’re every bit as good. The former is the Southern (HCMC) version and is dryer, while the latter is the Northern (Hanoi) version. They both are served with rice noodles, grilled pork, mixed salad, and as always, tons of fresh herbs. Plenty of renditions also include meatballs and/or fried spring rolls too.