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Sanma-men (サンマーメン): Original Ramen from Yokohama

Sanma-men (サンマーメン) is a unique type of ramen dish from Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture (Kanto Region).

It features features a thickened broth, and various vegetable toppings which stir fried before being added on top of the noodles

The word “sanma” is derived from the Chinese (Cantonese) word “生嗎” or “生馬”. It is a reference to the raw/fresh vegetables that are put on top. The characters “生馬” also translates to “raw horse”, which is probably why it is typically written in katakana(サンマー).

Men (麺)simply means “noodles” in Japanese.

Read on for more interesting info about sanma-men!


sanma noodles ingredients

The main ingredients of sanma-men are:

  • Ramen noodles
  • Bean sprouts
  • Vegetables

There are technially no “rules” as to what ingredients can be used in sanma-men.

Noodles are typical ramen noodles (i.e. “Chinese noodles” or chuuka-men 中華麺).

The most classic/traditional version of sanma-men uses a lot of bean sprouts, napa cabbage, and shredded pork. Other common ingredients used include carrots, onions, mushrooms, and other green vegetables.

Soy sauce is the main seasoning ingredient.

The most important part of sanma-men is that the fresh ingredients are first stir fried to have a slightly crunchy texture, and that the sauce/soup is slightly thickened. Typically potato starch is used to thicken the soup.

Location / Where to Eat

yokohama china town
The famous Chinatown gate in Yokohama

Sanma-men is originally from Yokohama city in Kanagawa Prefecture (about a 30 minute train ride south of Tokyo). Specifically, it is from the Chinatown area of Yokohama (the largest Chinatown in Japan). You will find many restaurants in the area that serve sanma-men.

The restaurant that is often credited with inventing sanma-men is called “Heichinrou” (聘珍樓). The company is still in business today with multiple locations, although its original location in Yokohama’s Chinatown has closed in 2022. They have another location in Yokohama inside a department store (Google Maps link).

Sanma-men can also be found throughout different parts of Japan, but it is still most popular to eat around Yokohama and its surrounding areas.

For a list of other places to try sanma-men in Yokohama area, check out this website: (in Japanese)

History / Origin of Sanma-men

heichinrou yokohama
Entrance to the original Heichinrou shop in Yokohama Chinatown (now closed)

Sanma-men is said to have originated in Yokohama’s Chinatown sometime around 1930. It did not become very popular until sometime after World War 2 (around 1945).

The executive chef at the Chinese restaurant called Heichinrou (聘珍樓) is often credited with inventing the dish, which was based on classic Cantonese cuisine/flavors (another restaurant called Gyokusentei also claims to be the inventor).

In any case, the dish was originally created as a cheap, filling alternative to niku-soba (i.e. meat soba).

It was created for the many Chinese migrants and port workers in Yokohama at the time. It quickly became a favorite of the local workers as it was cheap, hearty, and delicious. Its popularity eventually spread to the general public, and adapted to local Japanese tastes/ingredients.

(Sources: 1; 2)

How to make Sanma-men

Sanma-men is not technically difficult to make, though it typically uses quite a lot of ingredients.

The cutting of all the vegetables is probably the most difficult part of making sanma-men. Restaurants will probably have most of the ingredients prepped beforehand, but if you’re making it yourself at home, you will need to chop up everything beforehand. Check out this list of vegetable cutting techniques.

Below is a step-by-step recipe of how to make sanma-men at home. (Original recipe via Delish Kitchen).

Sanma-men Recipe (サンマーメン):

Course: mainCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time


Calories per serving


Total time



Easy to make sanma-men recipe. Get creative and add your own choice of vegetables/ingredients. Original recipe, images, and video via Delish Kitchen

Equipment & Ingredients

  • Pot

  • Frying Pan

  • Knife and cutting board

  • Chopsticks

  • Raw ramen noodles … 2 servings

  • Pork (thinly sliced) … 80g

  • Carrot (35g) … 1/4

  • Bean sprouts … 100g

  • Komatsuna (Japanese mustard greens) … 40g

  • Sesame oil … 1/2 tablespoon

  • Salt and pepper a little

  • Soup Ingredients
  • Water … 500ml

  • Sake … 1 tablespoon of

  • Salt … 1/3 teaspoon

  • Soy sauce … 1/2 tablespoon

  • Chicken stock … 1 teaspoon

  • Oyster sauce … 1/2 tablespoon

  • Soup Thickener
  • Potato starch … 1.5 tablespoons

  • Water … 1.5 tablespoons


  • Prep
  • Cut the carrots lengthwise into 3mm wide pieces, arrange them a little on top of each other with the cut side down, and then cut them into 3mm wide pieces (thinly sliced). Cut off the roots of the komatsuna and cut into 4cm pieces.
  • Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces.
  • Stir-fry & Soup
  • Heat sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the pork and stir-fry until it changes color. Add the bean sprouts, some salt and pepper, and stir-fry for about 1 minute until everything is evenly coated in oil.
  • Add all soup ingredients, mix together and bring to a boil. Remove any scum from the top and continue simmering for about 2 minutes.
  • Make the thickener in a small bowl by dissolving potato starch in some water. Add the mixture to the soup and stir to thicken.
  • Noodles
  • Pour water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the ramen noodles while loosening them. Boil according to the instructions on the package. Drain the water well.
  • Put the drained noodles in a bowl, pour soup mixture over it, and ENJOY!

Recipe Video


  • If you can’t get komatsuna, replace with bak choy, napa cabbage, or your choice of green vegetable 🙂

Fun Facts

  • Sanma (サンマ) also means “saury fish” in Japanese. For those unfamiliar with sanma-men, they may think it is a fish noodle dish.
  • The Kanagawa Sanma Noodle Association aims to promote sanma-men throughout the country.


Have you ever tried sanma-men before? What did you think of it?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!

Chef Goku

Chef Goku

Chef Goku is the founder and sole operator of The Chef Dojo. He loves Japanese food, and has lived in and out of Japan for many years. He started this blog in 2018 to share everything he learns about Japanese food and cooking. He is also a self-certified Japanese knife nerd. Contact Chef Goku

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