Is there a difference between the two?Can I substitute kecap manis in a recipe that calls for dark soy? Or should I just break down and buy the dark soy?
Kecap manis has an almost molasses thickness and sweetness. Dark soy does not.
Agreed, KM is deep, sweet and somewhat spiced, dark Soy is just intensely salty.
I think you should get the dark soy (be sure you get a traditionally brewed one). You could substitute kecap manis, but it is very sweet and will change the nature of the recipe. If you want sweet, then kecap manis would be fine.
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