The world of Asian noodles is vast. Walk into any Asian market and you’ll see aisles of noodles, each of different shapes, lengths, and textures. Noodles in Asia are more than a food—they’re an essential part of culture with a 4,000 year history. Even the noodles‘ length has significance—they are often symbols of longevity in celebratory meals.
For the amateur noodle shopper, parsing through a grocery’s many noodle options can be mindboggling. Similar styles of noodles come packaged both soft and dried from China, Taiwan, and throughout South East Asia. The number of varieties alone are overwhelming, heightened by the absence of any standardized noodle nomenclature, language, or even common classification. This makes it difficult to know which noodles are which, and how to choose between them. So here’s a guide to help you identify some of the most common noodles available in Asian groceries in the U.S.