Ramen is the usual word. But I've noticed some ramen places using the term 中華そば for what appears to be the same thing.

Am I correct that these are the same dish?

Why do 2 words exist?


Basically 中華そば is an old word for ラーメン. In metropolitan areas, the word ラーメン has almost completely replaced 中華そば in daily conversations, but there are still many restaurants that serve dishes named 中華そば, especially in rural areas. This is basically a matter of their brand image. From what I understand, 中華そば today typically refers to traditional ラーメン with shoyu-based soup, like this.

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To add to the current answer, そば is Japanese in origin, but most agree that ラーメン came from China, hence the 中華 (Chinese) そば, because it is similar to そば, and so called. ラーメン became the more common word for 中華そば, and it rolls off the tongue easier. Plenty of restaurants, especially specialty ones or ones that have a certain "old school" quality or atmosphere use 中華そば on menus.

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