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Ramen’s stir-fried cousin, yakisoba, is still relatively unknown outside of Japan, but it’s one of the most popular everyday dishes here.

Unlike ramen, which is rarely made from scratch at home because of the complexity of its soup, yakisoba is quite easy to whip up for a quick lunch. It’s also a very popular food stall snack, especially during summer matsuri (festivals), and instant yakisoba is widely available. You can even get yakisoba bread — soft rolls stuffed with yakisoba. (Confusingly, the name “yakisoba” is actually applied to several different dishes, such as kata-yakisoba, made with crispy deep-fried noodles. Various stir-fried noodle dishes from around Asia are also called yakisoba, such as “Thai yakisoba” for pad thai. Here, I’ll be talking about the soft stir-fried noodle dish.)

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