We made this Yakisoba recipe last week, but the noodles came out tasting more bitter than we'd like. I added soy sauce to mine, but that mostly just drowned out the bitterness.

What can we do with this recipe to make it less bitter? I like Yakisoba, so I want to try to make it work rather than having something different. But I'm afraid that if I add something (like sugar) it would change the recipe's flavor too much.

  • Did you make any ingredient substitutions?
    – GdD
    May 11, 2015 at 16:25
  • @GdD Nope. Decided to go with the ingredients as written. Added a little more cabbage as suggested, but that doesn't seem to have impacted the flavor too much.
    – Zibbobz
    May 11, 2015 at 16:36
  • Did you taste the cabbage on its own? Sometimes it has a bit of a mustard-y/bitter quality to it. (I've been told that 'mountain cabbage' in West Virginia is particularly prized for not having this issue, but I don't know if that's a climate issue, cultivar or regional soil thing like Vidalia onions)
    – Joe
    May 11, 2015 at 17:34
  • @Joe Yes actually I did (I'm strange in that I like raw cabbage) and it tasted fine. The noodles themselves tasted more bitter than I feel they should have.
    – Zibbobz
    May 11, 2015 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


I'm at a bit of a loss providing advice on this issue because I've never heard of it (short of burning the ingredients in the dish). There's a very, very slight bitterness in proper ramen-style noodles because of the alkali content of kansui (potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate or bicarbonate in water solution), but in typical noodles of reasonable quality I would expect the bitterness to be lower than, say, the outer skin of a pretzel.

To me it sounds like you've stumbled on poor quality noodles, or you're hypersensitive to the very mild alkali content. You might consider looking for Chinese egg noodles instead, which have a similar color but may have less or no kansui, or you might try a completely different noodle, such as udon, and make yaki-udon instead. Alternatively, consider trying a different brand of noodles, or a different form (dry instead of refrigerated, frozen instead of dry, etc.) One local brand of refrigerated noodles meant for yakisoba available where I live (Seattle) has been so inconsistent in quality for me that I skip it and go straight to the (probably imported) frozen ones in our market. (Dry ones will require brief boiling), but in my case our complaint was about texture, not bitterness. Switching out for a different supplier may resolve your issue.

ETA: It occurs to me that if you were starting from dry noodles, you may encounter rancidity with unusually old ones. That's a bit more aggressive than just bitterness, but I've seen it on occasion with long-forgotten packaged noodles; it was obvious before cooking, though, so I've just tossed them.

  • Actually, considering we were using an instant pack of microwaveable noodles, bad noodles is entirely possible. So our solution may be as simple as no longer using those low-quality noodles.
    – Zibbobz
    May 13, 2015 at 0:12

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