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Can anyone recommend a good soy sauce?

cimui Apr 12, 2007 09:26 PM

I know I can taste a difference between the soy sauce that comes in packets with take-out and, say, Kikkoman, which is what I generally buy at the store b/c it's easily available. And I know there's much better. Could anyone suggest a good, relatively easy-to-find (mass produced) soy sauce for me, please?

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  1. v
    Vegasbuff RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 09:29 PM

    Lot of places use Aloha Shoyu in Hawaii. It's been a while since I had that brand but I think it's a little sweeter than Kikkoman.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Vegasbuff
      cimui RE: Vegasbuff Apr 12, 2007 10:02 PM

      I'll look for this, thank you!

      1. re: Vegasbuff
        garrett RE: Vegasbuff May 9, 2007 05:01 PM

        This is also my favorite kind of soy sauce, but I've never seen it on sale outside of California or Hawaii. www.alohashoyu.com

        1. re: garrett
          enbell RE: garrett May 9, 2007 08:49 PM

          I'm out west, but the Grocery Outlets near me have it.

          1. re: enbell
            micheleanne RE: enbell Jun 25, 2007 03:26 PM

            I have to agree and say Aloha Shoyu is the best. It is a bit sweeter than most soy sauces I have tried but I appreciate that it doesn't taste overly salty.

            1. re: micheleanne
              howlin RE: micheleanne Dec 29, 2009 08:57 PM

              is that like kejap manus?

          2. re: garrett
            DishDelish RE: garrett Aug 7, 2009 08:25 PM

            Yep, with my experience so far, I have found Aloha Shoyu to be best. It can be bought online too.

        2. kare_raisu RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 09:31 PM

          I really like the San-J red. sod. Tamari. Check it out - Ive been using it for a year now

          1 Reply
          1. re: kare_raisu
            cimui RE: kare_raisu Apr 12, 2007 10:01 PM

            Thanks--I'll look for this.

          2. Sam Fujisaka RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 09:42 PM

            While there are many good soy sauces out there, I have never found any "better" than Kikkoman--for a balanced, general-use shoyu. I use thicker and/or sweeter soy sauces for other types of preparations.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
              starlady RE: Sam Fujisaka Apr 12, 2007 09:47 PM

              I'm there with you Sam! Although sometimes (strictly for chinese cooking) I use China Lily

              1. re: starlady
                LizATL RE: starlady Apr 12, 2007 09:54 PM

                I second the San-J tamari. The non-sodium-reduced is better, IMHO. I do not care for Kikkoman.

                1. re: LizATL
                  cimui RE: LizATL Apr 12, 2007 10:01 PM

                  Thanks, LizATL. Why don't you care for Kokkoman?

                  1. re: LizATL
                    DishDelish RE: LizATL Aug 7, 2009 08:29 PM

                    I agree, for certain types of cooking you do need kikkoman, even though Aloha Shoyu is my all time fav. but kikkoman is so salty so I also like the reduced sodium version when I have to use it.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                  cimui RE: Sam Fujisaka Apr 12, 2007 10:03 PM

                  Which other types of preparations? It'd be nice to find a really good soy sauce for sashimi. I do like Kikkoman for cooking, but it seems a little flat for sashimi.

                  1. re: cimui
                    enbell RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 10:17 PM

                    Kikoman makes a sushi-specific soy sauce. Waaay, way salty but maybe what you're after.

                    1. re: enbell
                      cimui RE: enbell Apr 13, 2007 06:49 AM

                      Eeek, not so much, but thanks for the heads up. =)

                      1. re: enbell
                        Nyleve RE: enbell Apr 14, 2007 07:46 AM

                        I'm a little queasy on the Kikkoman sushi soy. My son buys it - and likes it, I guess - but there are lots of extra ingredients in it that I don't really want. MSG, for one, and other stuff I can't remember at the moment. I prefer the purity of regular soy.

                        1. re: Nyleve
                          John Manzo RE: Nyleve Aug 15, 2007 06:41 PM

                          Kikkoman has no MSG. It has natural glutamate but so do tomatoes- and so does every soy sauce, unavoidably. What you're saying is like saying that protein is an "ingredient" of a hamburger.

                          1. re: John Manzo
                            tmso RE: John Manzo Jul 13, 2008 02:58 AM

                            Nyleve was talking specifically about Kikkoman's "Sushi & Sashimi Soy Sauce", the ingredients of which you can find here:


                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      welle RE: Sam Fujisaka Apr 13, 2007 08:02 AM

                      Agreed on Kikkoman. The light version is also good. For dipping, I sometimes add chinese dark vinegar a la the sauce that most Northern Chinese dumpling/noodle places offer.

                    3. bitsubeats RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 10:18 PM

                      depends on what you are cooking or using it for...all soy sauces are different. Since I'm part korean I am partial to korean soy sauces and even japanese ones. I buy assi brand (korean) at my local store because it's so cheap . I also buy a pretty good japanese brand, but I forget the name of it. The label is red, white, and possibly yellow and is very cheap.

                      nothing beats homemade soy sauce though. My mother buys about a gallon of it from a friend for $50.

                      how bad are those soy sauce in packets? it tastes like salty water with brown food colouring - which is probably what it's made out of

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bitsubeats
                        Dalbunosky RE: bitsubeats Jan 6, 2013 11:10 PM

                        Those little packets are as you described. The food coloring is also caramel/burnt sugar.

                        Also, if you are in the know, are there any good Korean brands other than Sempio and Assi? Recommendations and uses? Seems like to me that Korean soy sauce is oriented more towards soups and stews.

                      2. m
                        maestra RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 10:25 PM

                        A Thai friend turned me on to Golden Mountain years ago. It tastes very different, and I've come to prefer it for both plain white rice and for cooking a particular Ming-Tsai-inspired fried rice dish. I don't use it in other cooking, though. Sometimes I find Golden Moutain's soy sauce, sometimes their soy seasoning, but both are good. I'm sure it's not considered high-quality, but it's something to try if you're looking for different types of soy sauce.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: maestra
                          lamster RE: maestra May 11, 2007 02:14 PM

                          I too prefer Golden Mountain. I LOVE soy sauce, and I put it on everything. I find Kikkoman too dark without any flavor.

                          Usually, the big bottle of Golden Mountain is less than $2, so I doubt its "high quality," but that's fine with me.

                          1. re: maestra
                            Dalbunosky RE: maestra Jan 6, 2013 11:19 PM

                            If you are talking about the Green n Yellow bottle, I don't think that stuff is soy sauce, but more along the lines of Maggi.

                          2. Condimentality RE: cimui Apr 12, 2007 11:24 PM

                            If you are looking for Chinese soy sauce, Pearl River Bridge brand is good and relatively easy to find in markets that specialize in Chinese ingredients.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Condimentality
                              cheryl_h RE: Condimentality Apr 13, 2007 06:52 AM

                              I use Pearl River just about exclusively, but most of my Asian cooking is Chinese.

                              1. re: Condimentality
                                QueenB RE: Condimentality Apr 13, 2007 01:40 PM

                                I use Pearl River for all my Chinese cooking. Both their light and dark soy are great, and not too salty at all.

                                1. re: Condimentality
                                  vorpal RE: Condimentality Aug 23, 2007 05:06 AM

                                  Agreed. It would be helpful if the original poster told us what purposes s/he wanted the soy sauce for since there are so many different styles, but for my general Chinese and Thai cooking, I exclusively use Pearl River Bridge: light soy sauce for most uses, dark soy sauce (in small quantities) for special dishes that require a very strong soy base.

                                  1. re: vorpal
                                    FrankD RE: vorpal Apr 4, 2010 02:40 AM

                                    I also use Pearl River Bridge, but I think it's useful to point out to the OP that there are three pre-dominant styles of Chinese soy: dark soy, light soy, and mushroom soy, in descending order of strength. When marinating meat, for example, we'll use a couple of tablespoons of dark soy with the other ingredients, but when making lighter dishes, light soy or mushroom soy are used.

                                  2. re: Condimentality
                                    alanbarnes RE: Condimentality Jan 3, 2010 08:06 PM

                                    One more vote for Pearl River Bridge for Chinese cooking. If you can find the purple label stuff, it's worth the extra $0.50.

                                  3. farmersdaughter RE: cimui Apr 13, 2007 07:45 AM

                                    There was a recent tamari tasting in the San Francisco Chronicle which may be helpful to you. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                    1. FoodFuser RE: cimui Apr 13, 2007 01:12 PM

                                      Kikkoman regular is good for general uses.

                                      Pearl River Dark Mushroom Soy for more robust stocks and sauces; it's also the secret ingredient in my gravy.

                                      For drizzling / high end uses where the soy has to shine, I use Misomaster Tamari. It and South River Tamari are discussed here:

                                      These two tamaris were missed by the San Fran taste testers, probably because they are not "mainstream" distribution. Never tried South River, but both it and Misomaster are made according to traditional methods: a by-product of miso as it ages.

                                      1. MsDiPesto RE: cimui Apr 13, 2007 01:55 PM

                                        When my current bottle of Kikkoman runs out, I'm going to try Lee Kum Kee, based on the tasting in the Jan/Feb issue of Cook's Illustrated, just to experience it and make a judgement of my own. They tasted 12 soy sauces, and La Choy came out on the bottom.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: MsDiPesto
                                          scubadoo97 RE: MsDiPesto Apr 13, 2007 02:27 PM

                                          "La Choy came out on the bottom"

                                          not real soy. That stuff is nasty!!

                                          1. re: MsDiPesto
                                            taylor_blair RE: MsDiPesto Apr 13, 2007 03:02 PM

                                            I'm Chinese-American and the only soy sauces I've ever used in my kitchen, thanks to my Cantonese mother, is Lee Kum Kee and Kimlan. Both are great, light or dark. Seriiously, stay far, far away from Kikkoman - it's salt and dark coloring stirred together in a bottle.

                                            1. re: taylor_blair
                                              grishnackh RE: taylor_blair Apr 13, 2007 03:07 PM

                                              I second Kimlan and would recommend it strongly to the author of this thread. Its not too pricey either.

                                              1. re: taylor_blair
                                                Sam Fujisaka RE: taylor_blair Apr 13, 2007 04:44 PM

                                                Oh, come on, tb! I'm (obviously) Japanese American; and we've been happily using Kikkoman--a real soy sauce if there evr was one--since the time the hakujins called it "bug juice". I use Kikkoman for most things, different Chinese soy sauces for others.

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                  tmso RE: Sam Fujisaka Jul 13, 2008 03:05 AM

                                                  Bug juice??? For a product that went on to be virtually universally loved in the West, that's quite a hostile initial reaction. Wow.

                                                  1. re: tmso
                                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: tmso Aug 8, 2009 05:43 AM

                                                    Try growing up Japanese American in the US after WWII. Lots of rascist unpleasantry!

                                                2. re: taylor_blair
                                                  VirgoBlue RE: taylor_blair May 9, 2007 11:16 PM

                                                  I'm not going to bash Kikkoman, I just don't think it's the right soy for Chinese cooking.

                                                  I have to disagree with Pearl River and give a thumbs up to Kimlan for all Chinese cooking. I don't use anything else (dark or light). Pearl River's soy is all salt, too little flavor for me.

                                                  And La Choy can't even be considered soy sauce. That stuff stinks!

                                                  1. re: VirgoBlue
                                                    Diane in Bexley RE: VirgoBlue Aug 22, 2007 11:50 AM

                                                    LaChoy is real dreck. I sent my DH to the store (LOL!) for soy sauce without specifying the brand and he brought it home. Tasted it and threw it away. Yeck!

                                              2. pikawicca RE: cimui Apr 13, 2007 02:34 PM

                                                Unless I need a special soy for a recipe, I always use Kikkoman reduced sodium. Have tried many others over the years, including very expensive artisanal, and have never found one I like better at any price (much to my surprise).

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: pikawicca
                                                  Axalady RE: pikawicca Apr 13, 2007 05:10 PM

                                                  cimui, I knew I had seen a recent soy sauce tasting, it's in Jan-Feb Cook's Illustrated. Top Recommended are Lee Kum Kee Tabletop Soy Sauce and Ohsawa Nama Shoyu Organic Unpasteurized Soy Sauce. Those Recommended "With Reservations" (in order) are San-J Organic Naturally Brewed, Kikkoman All Purpose, Pearl River Bridge Superior Light, Eden Organic Naturally Brewed Tamari Soy, Eden Organic Traditionally Brewed Tamari, Eden Organic Shoyu Soy, Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Organic, Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Tamari and San-J Naturally Brewed Tamari Premium. Not Recommended: La Choy. Hope this helps.

                                                2. Miss Needle RE: cimui Apr 14, 2007 07:28 AM

                                                  Personally, I like Yamasa for Japanese and Korean food. For Chinese food, I use whatever my husband gets.

                                                  1. oonth RE: cimui May 9, 2007 04:50 PM

                                                    Cimui, hadn't seen this post before but I can recommend Blue Ribbon Tamari Shoyu at $6 per bottle available from their little deli on Bedford Street (along with other nice items eg Mexican honeys, open sandwiches). I use it for home crafted sashimi salads and sashimi platters and it's great stuff. I bought 3 bottles last week to take with me the day before I left town.

                                                    1. Joe MacBu RE: cimui May 9, 2007 11:06 PM

                                                      The Kimlan brand has some excellent soy sauces, but you should pay attention to the style also. They make the regular stuff as well as some premium types (they call it noble soy sauce series). These cost a few dollars more, but are worth it. I can usually find two from the premium series, Super Special and I Jen (tamari style, no wheat) at better Chinese stores. They run about $5.

                                                      Someone did a taste test of 18 soy sauces several years ago:

                                                      1. w
                                                        wayne keyser RE: cimui May 11, 2007 07:35 PM

                                                        Here's your best strategy:

                                                        Go to the grocery store (NOT an Asian grocery) - make a list of everything that appears in the ingredients label on a bottle of French's Soy Sauce. Then put it back.

                                                        When looking to buy some soy sauce, compare it to your list. If any of the ingredients match (other than water), don't buy it.

                                                        Kikkoman is just fine by me - as is almost any naturally brewed brand.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: wayne keyser
                                                          MsDiPesto RE: wayne keyser May 12, 2007 08:49 AM

                                                          I was sitting waiting to get my blood drawn this morning, and noticed a story in Wine Spectator about Soy Sauce that had good things to say about Kikkoman. Ultimately, the article recommended the use of different soy sauces (Chinese, Japanese, etc) for different dishes.

                                                        2. k
                                                          kobetobiko RE: cimui May 12, 2007 09:54 AM

                                                          Hi cimui,

                                                          For sashimi I use Kikkoman Kappou Sashimi Soy Sauce. It is in a small glass bottle and the front label only has Japanese words. The back, however, usually has the English sticker label by the store. Its taste is stronger and goes well with sashimi. You can totally taste the difference of this soy sauce and other generic brands (not for sashimi) when taste side by side.

                                                          It is available at Sunrise Mart (St Mark's) and JAS Mart. I think some Asian grocery stores also carry it.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: kobetobiko
                                                            paulj RE: kobetobiko May 12, 2007 11:54 AM

                                                            I have small bottle of Yamasa brand sashimi soy sauce (all Japanese on the front). It has added mirin and vinegar.


                                                          2. cgfan RE: cimui May 22, 2007 11:02 AM

                                                            O/T as you're asking for a mass-produced soy sauce, but for reference as to what can be found, a recent favorite of mine is Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame Shoyu (Yuasa Authentic Black Bean Soy Sauce). So far I have been using it only sparingly for sashimi, where a premium soy sauce can live up to it's full potential. (It's too extravagent for everyday use, but I'm sure it'll do wonders!)

                                                            It has an incredible roundness of flavor and a subdued, naturally balanced sweetness from the black bean (i.e.: not a sweetness that stands out and makes it sweet, but a sweetness that balances out the other components). If this makes any sense to you then you will know what I mean when I say that it has a pronounced, but quiet, flavor.

                                                            Here's a post of mine on this soy sauce in another thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40292... .

                                                            And here's a picture of the bottle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: cgfan
                                                              Korean Soy Guy RE: cgfan May 31, 2007 08:29 AM

                                                              After Navy tours of duty in the Philippines and on Guam, and work related flying about the Pacific; Philippino, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Pacific Island food became part of my life. So many soy sauces, so different, most average, some great, some not so good to my taste. Is anyone familiar with the Korean brand Sempio? What do you think?

                                                            2. m
                                                              mwood RE: cimui Aug 15, 2007 03:43 PM

                                                              I love the Kishibori brand - it's Japanese. Wonderful flavor, not "salty".

                                                              I bought it from http://www.markethallfoods.com

                                                              1. chocabot RE: cimui Aug 16, 2007 10:41 AM

                                                                i think it really depends on your end use.

                                                                chinese and japanese soys taste really different. and the "mr wings" soy packets they give out with all takeout is vile and an insult to soy sauce in general.

                                                                for chinese foods i always buy pearl river brand (light soy for dipping and general use, dark or mushroom soy for braises and stews). for japanese i like kikkoman (less sodium, green label).

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: chocabot
                                                                  ekammin RE: chocabot Aug 21, 2007 01:11 PM

                                                                  I like to use Superior, both light and dark, from China for Chinese food, and Yamasa for Japanese. I find that the Pina brand, from the Philippines, is also good.

                                                                  I used to like Kikkoman, but when they started making it in the U.S., I found the quality went down.

                                                                  1. re: ekammin
                                                                    MikeG RE: ekammin Aug 23, 2007 04:07 AM

                                                                    "I used to like Kikkoman, but when they started making it in the U.S., I found the quality went down."

                                                                    Did you start buying it at a different store? Kikkoman has been made here for more than 30 years and has been about all that's been available at mass-outlets (supermarkets, lots of restaurant suppliers). More recently, the imported Kikkoman has become more available and is less expensive than it used to be, though you still have to go to Japanese grocery/convenience stores to get it, in my experience, even in NYC with a fairly big Japanese population and lots of self-identified foodie types... But I'm surprised that places that sell Yamasa sell the domestic Kikkoman over the imported, unless the imported recently got much more expensive again?

                                                                2. amyzan RE: cimui Aug 22, 2007 11:58 AM

                                                                  I used to buy Eden selected shoyu, which is different from their other shoyus. lately I haven't found it, and a local natural foods store told me the distributor in the midwest has dropped it. I don't know if it's still available to those of you on the coasts, but it's worth looking for, as the flavor is fantastic. It's apparently brewed traditionally in open vats for three years, not made quickly in controlled conditions like most are these days. It was around $4 for a 12 ounce bottle, if I remember accurately, but worth every penny. This isn't a soy you'd use in large quantity for marinades, but rather one to use in sauces, finishing, etc. like you would a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for salads rather than frying.

                                                                  1. vorpal RE: cimui Aug 23, 2007 05:08 AM

                                                                    This is an ambiguous question, like asking for a good mustard. It depends on what you're using it for, predominantly. Kikkoman, IMO, is great for Japanese food, and not at all suitable for Chinese or Thai cuisine. What do you intend to do with it?

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: vorpal
                                                                      MysticYoYo RE: vorpal Sep 8, 2007 11:48 AM

                                                                      Kimlan. I discovered it when it came in little packets with the (surprisingly good) sushi that Publix Supermarkets sell. Now I buy it bottled and keep the packets as back up, should I ever run out.

                                                                    2. r
                                                                      RunBe4UFly RE: cimui Sep 25, 2007 02:06 PM

                                                                      I just got Kimlan and Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce from the Chinese store, and I compared them with Pearl River Bridge Mushroom flavored dark soy sauce that I got long time ago (and abendoned).
                                                                      My verdict:
                                                                      Pearl River Bridge Mushroom flavored soy sauce is the worst. It has a chemical taste to it, and It does NOT taste like normal soy sauce.
                                                                      Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce: Better than the mushroom flavored version. Both versions have some acid taste to them (which somehow leads to a sweet after taste).
                                                                      Kimlan: Straightforward dark soy sauce. It taste like normal soy sauce, period.
                                                                      I was born and raised in China, I lived there for 25 years and I know what soy sauce tastes like back in China. My mom who is still in China once tasted the PRB mushroom floavored soy sauce and she hated it. She liked the Lee Kim Chee brand, which is a blend of soy sauce, "flavor enhancer", sugar and spice. You need to ask yourself the question "Why I need flavor enhancer in my soy sauce?".
                                                                      The Kimlan I got is the regular one, not the I-Jen one. Why I need I-Jen in my soy sauce? Dark soy sauce is for cooking, with ginger, garlic, green onion, rice cooking etc. It should play its part in the flavoring profile and only its OWN part.

                                                                      24 Replies
                                                                      1. re: RunBe4UFly
                                                                        chocabot RE: RunBe4UFly Sep 26, 2007 07:52 AM

                                                                        runbe4ufly - did you not like the taste of the PRB soys in cooked dishes or tasted straight from the bottle, because as you mentioned they're made for cooking.

                                                                        1. re: chocabot
                                                                          RunBe4UFly RE: chocabot Sep 26, 2007 09:18 AM

                                                                          I will not use PRB mushroom dark or PRB dark soy for dipping for sure. I especially don't like PRB mushroom dark in cooking or dipping because it tastes like chemical - It tastes watery and like some chemical compound diluted in the water (all right, that's a little harsh, but you got the idea). That thing just doesn't have body. It can't stand by its own so forget about using it for dipping. In cooking, It doesn't contribute to the flavor or body of the sauce, only the color (as a matter of fact, I will say this mushroom dark is worse than La Choy). All in all, I won't use PRB mushroom dark for anything (too bad I got a big bottle since it's cheaper than PRB dark, now I know why it's cheaper).
                                                                          For dipping sauce, I go with Kikoman Soyu or Teriyaki made in WI. I also like MEMI for noodle, and japanese SOBA for Soba noodle.
                                                                          I will try Kimlan tonight for the classic "Red Cook Pork"...

                                                                          1. re: RunBe4UFly
                                                                            RunBe4UFly RE: RunBe4UFly Sep 26, 2007 05:59 PM

                                                                            I tried Kimlan for the "Red Cook Pork" and it came out great. Great flavor, color and body. The soy sauce is on the salty side though.

                                                                            1. re: RunBe4UFly
                                                                              buttertart RE: RunBe4UFly Aug 8, 2009 07:07 AM

                                                                              Kimlan is my regular medium soy sauce brand (had it recommended to me in Taipei, was glad to find it exported to the US). They make a reduced-sodium one that isn't bad. I haven't found a really good dark one yet (don't like the Kimlan jiangyou gao, muddle along with PRB).

                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                kattyeyes RE: buttertart Apr 1, 2010 08:41 AM

                                                                                Armed with info gathered here on CH, I set off for the Asian market yesterday to buy Kimlan reduced-sodium soy sauce and PRB Mushroom Soy. I then embarked upon a casual taste test at home to judge these against Kikkoman. Photo here:

                                                                                Until yesterday, I knew nothing beyond Kikkoman...had heard of others, but never tried them. I have now reached hot and sour soup nirvana in my own humble kitchen and am pleased to report just a splash of mushroom soy along with Kimlan in my hot and sour soup gave me the extra darkness I've seen in restaurants and never knew how to replicate.

                                                                                Doing a soy sauce taste test was an interesting little experiment. I tasted the Kikkoman first, then the Kimlan--which made Kikkoman taste like mere salted liquid in comparison to the depth of flavor Kimlan provides. And PRB, well, that's a different animal altogether, but as others have pointed out, it's meant for cooking, and WOW, it really is the secret ingredient to great hot & sour, isn't it?! Anyway, so now I'll self-diagnose. My name is kattyeyes and I have condimentia. :) But I don't want to find a cure...

                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                  buttertart RE: kattyeyes Apr 1, 2010 08:51 AM

                                                                                  I'll have to get some of the mushroom soy, I have never used it before. And happy to hear you like Kimlan, it was recommended to me by a very good cook in Taipei. Condimentia! Too too funny.

                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                    c oliver RE: kattyeyes Apr 1, 2010 07:13 PM

                                                                                    k-e, when you say "darkness" what do you mean? I've never had h&s soup that was dark in color nor flavor. Elaborate please :)

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                                                      kattyeyes RE: c oliver Apr 1, 2010 07:54 PM

                                                                                      Any hot and sour soup I've ever made has always been approximately this color:

                                                                                      The addition of mushroom soy makes the soup a deeper brown. I googled, but could not find a picture to share the darker color I'm talking about. I will have to take a pic next time I make the recipe.

                                                                                      The ones I've often enjoyed at restaurants are a darker brown

                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                        c oliver RE: kattyeyes Apr 1, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                                                        I would say any h&s soup I've had or made was no darker than this:


                                                                                        And probably lighter. Maybe it's a Right Coast/Left Coast "thang." I don't think I've bought or had Kikkoman in a restaurant in decades so maybe it is a regional thing.

                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                          c oliver RE: kattyeyes Apr 2, 2010 09:07 AM

                                                                                          Alright, you got my curiosity going. Here's a picture that REALLY looks like what I call h&s:


                                                                                          I also skimmed approx. ten recipes and the amount of soy sauce vs. the total amount of liquid is so small, I wouldn't think it would effect the color any or much. Just a few thoughts this morning, k-e.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                            alanbarnes RE: c oliver Apr 2, 2010 12:32 PM

                                                                                            My hot and sour soup recipe is based on chicken broth. Without any soy sauce, it would be pretty much yellow. The PRB mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce is so intensely colored that relatively small amounts will dramatically change the color of a pot of soup.

                                                                                            Per FoodFuser's suggestion above, I put a little in some beef gravy I made last night. Just a splash and the gravy was much richer and darker in color. The soy sauce added a depth of flavor that was pretty nice, too. Always nice to learn a new trick. Thanks FF!

                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                              c oliver RE: alanbarnes Apr 2, 2010 12:37 PM

                                                                                              I just looked and my sesame oil is as dark as my dark soy sauce so I guess my color seems plenty dark. But, yeah, thanks, FF. Just what I need is another Asian condiment!

                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                kattyeyes RE: alanbarnes Apr 2, 2010 05:02 PM

                                                                                                <<The PRB mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce is so intensely colored that relatively small amounts will dramatically change the color of a pot of soup.>>

                                                                                                And BINGO was his name-o! Next time I'll take a picture...though it's easy to see (from my little soy sauce test photo) how the PRB m-f DS (how do you like dem apples?!) would be a radical change. It's like the Gravy Master of the Asian kitchen. HA HA HA!

                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                  buttertart RE: kattyeyes Apr 3, 2010 07:08 AM

                                                                                                  I use regular (non m-f) dark soy for just that purpose, if a gravy or whatever is looking a bit wan and pale. Perks the color right up and the flavor fades into the whole.

                                                                                                2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                  FoodFuser RE: alanbarnes Apr 3, 2010 10:54 PM

                                                                                                  Yep, a little bit of PRB mushroom soy goes a long way in "traditional" gravies. And don't get me started on the experiments in miso-based bechamels, or the role of fresh/dried mushrooms

                                                                                          2. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                            huiray RE: kattyeyes Jul 8, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                                                            kattyeyes, where is the Land of Steady Habits?

                                                                                            Hmm, I guess you do not find this metallic taste that RunBe4UFly finds in PRB Mushroom soy, the one he finds is not at all like normal soy sauce (which he says he had been tasting for his 20-odd years living in China...)? It is clear that this one is very much to your taste...

                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                              kattyeyes RE: huiray Jul 8, 2010 07:08 PM

                                                                                              Hi, huiray. Connecticut is the Land of Steady Habits.

                                                                                              No, not metallic whatsoever. It is just the extra something that makes hot and sour soup taste just right to me...in my Yankee, Italian-Irish-Heinz 57 mind. :) I will say it is NOT at all like normal soy sauce, but as an accent, it's fab.

                                                                                            2. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                              huiray RE: kattyeyes Apr 25, 2012 07:12 AM

                                                                                              Yes this is an old thread but since it has been revived...

                                                                                              @kattyeyes: Don't you use black vinegar in your hot and sour soup? That should give you a dark-ish color - certainly darker than what you show in your shutterfly photo?

                                                                                              1. re: huiray
                                                                                                kattyeyes RE: huiray Apr 25, 2012 08:17 AM

                                                                                                Hey, huiray. No, but thanks for asking--is that the magic ingredient I need? If so, it's on the list!

                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                  huiray RE: kattyeyes Apr 25, 2012 09:01 AM

                                                                                                  There are differing opinions on it but yes, it is one "secret ingredient". Try the type called "Chinkiang Vinegar". You should/could also add some rice vinegar *as well as* the black vinegar. Do it to your taste, adding both towards the end of the cooking process. However, be a little careful - especially with the black vinegar (even though you should end up adding quite a bit), as a small sip of the soup when tasting is under-representative of how the soup will taste like after finishing it when you eat it by the spoonful and by the bowl, with the cumulative effect of eating the much larger portion.

                                                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                                                    kattyeyes RE: huiray Apr 25, 2012 09:12 AM

                                                                                                    Thanks! I've saved your ideas above for the next time I make H&S. It's been a long time, so I'm overdue to try again.

                                                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                      huiray RE: kattyeyes Apr 25, 2012 09:34 AM

                                                                                                      You're welcome. Good luck & Bon Appetit. (Consider leaving out the PRB mushroom soy if you use the black vinegar). [Do you use lily bud, wood fungus, etc in your H&S?]

                                                                                                      1. re: huiray
                                                                                                        kattyeyes RE: huiray Apr 25, 2012 10:19 AM

                                                                                                        OK, good to know. I haven't in YEARS...but, as my list for the Asian market is getting longer, I might add those. Oddly enough, I'd swear we were able to get them in the regular supermarket once upon a time. I'll look more carefully next trip.

                                                                                                    2. re: huiray
                                                                                                      FoodFuser RE: huiray Sep 8, 2012 07:21 PM

                                                                                                      Ditto on Chinkiang.

                                                                                                      Also great for stir frying.

                                                                                    2. C. Hamster RE: cimui Sep 26, 2007 10:25 AM

                                                                                      HEALTHY BOY very tasty

                                                                                      1. s
                                                                                        sumpingrey RE: cimui Jul 13, 2008 02:35 AM


                                                                                        If you can lay your hands on it, try Wan Ja Shan. Their soy and tamari are organic. Taiwanese soy tastes amazing.

                                                                                        1. e
                                                                                          EdwardAdams RE: cimui Jul 13, 2008 07:08 AM

                                                                                          Asking which is the best soy sauce is much like asking a westerner which is the best wine. As you can see, opinions vary. One soy that I recommend for a special use, making marinades is the Yamasa soy with the green label. It has some fish extract in it, very good for umami effect on whatever you are marinading.

                                                                                          1. saltwater RE: cimui Jul 13, 2008 01:52 PM

                                                                                            Several people mentioned Kimlan, which I also like. But when I bought it, I just got a random bottle even though there were at least seven types of Kimlan on the shelf. Which Kimlan is really the best one for a Chinese (light) soy sauce that can be used in a dipping sauce or in a cooked dish or for flavoring a bowl of soup?

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: saltwater
                                                                                              PotShard RE: saltwater Dec 29, 2009 07:12 PM

                                                                                              I still like Kikkoman... but NADDAH made in the US. Read the label closely. JAPANESE-produced soy sauce is very good. The US stuff is total crappe. JUNK. We buy our SS at an area oriental market, as the Big-Box-type of grocery chains sell only inferior "oriental seasonings". Kikkoman Extra Fancy Whole Beans Soy Sauce from Japan is excellent.

                                                                                            2. s
                                                                                              sisterfunkhaus RE: cimui Jan 3, 2010 07:46 PM

                                                                                              I like Kimlan and good old Kikkoman. I can't wait to try a couple of others mentioned here though, particularly the PRB mushroom, Aloha Shoyu, and Lee Kum Lee.

                                                                                              1. ChrisOC RE: cimui Apr 1, 2010 05:30 PM

                                                                                                I like SanJ tamari or shoyu.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: ChrisOC
                                                                                                  flylice2x RE: ChrisOC Apr 4, 2010 01:11 AM

                                                                                                  God...this thread is 3 yrs old...Aloha...

                                                                                                  1. re: flylice2x
                                                                                                    buttertart RE: flylice2x Apr 4, 2010 05:51 AM

                                                                                                    Yes, and it was bumped for a purpose: further discussion of the topic, which is what it received. Still of interest to a lot of folks.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                      c oliver RE: buttertart Apr 4, 2010 07:39 AM

                                                                                                      Right. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that a three year old thread can be just a valid as a brand new one. PLUS (and this is a biggie for me) having an old, still pertinent thread added onto makes things easier to find and doesn't clutter up the site with quite as much redundancy.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                        divadmas RE: c oliver Jun 2, 2010 04:31 PM

                                                                                                        been keeping a bottle of mushroom soy sauce handy lately.
                                                                                                        saw some kikkoman whole bean soy sauce, about a quart for about$10. is it worth it? why?

                                                                                                2. hannaone RE: cimui Jun 2, 2010 05:06 PM

                                                                                                  With a fair to good basic soy sauce you can give this a try


                                                                                                  1. Phoghat RE: cimui Apr 25, 2012 06:54 AM

                                                                                                    I'm a big fan of America's Test Kitchen because any recipe is tested many different ways to see which way looks, and tastes best. They also test appliances, cookware and different brands of food.
                                                                                                    They once did a test test on brands of soy sauce to see which was the best tasting and "Kikkoman" was good, but only placed second to the brand "Tamari", which tested as the best. I used to live in NY City with its large Asian population and was lucky enough to live near several Asian supermarkets. They all stocked many different brands including the two mentioned above. I use Kikkoman when Tamari isn't available to me, but the Tamari is far superior.
                                                                                                    Most soy sauces, especially those horrid little plastic packs from take-out, including La Choy, are just salty water with caramel coloring. Both Kikkoman and Tamari are naturally brewed (BTW, naturally brewed soy sauce has a slight alcohol content which is a by-product of the fermentation). As a general rule of thumb look for Naturally brewed, no artificial coloring, and the least amount of added preservatives which aren't needed as much, because of the natural alcohols present from the brewing process.
                                                                                                    Now I live in Mexico and the only brand here that was familiar was the Lee Kum Kee, which surprisingly is different from and better tasting than that available in the USA. As far as oyster sauce is concerned, Lee Kum Kede is the only way to go, he did inventit after all.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Phoghat
                                                                                                      divadmas RE: Phoghat Apr 25, 2012 11:29 AM

                                                                                                      i didn't know tamari was a brand, i thought it was soy sauce made without wheat.
                                                                                                      here is the kikoman fight commercial.

                                                                                                    2. j
                                                                                                      JW7374 RE: cimui Jul 23, 2012 09:44 AM

                                                                                                      La Choy ! I know a lot of people like to talk bad about this brand but personally it's my favorite and I'm of Asian descent. My second favorite would be Lee Kum Kee.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: JW7374
                                                                                                        kattyeyes RE: JW7374 Jul 23, 2012 10:09 AM

                                                                                                        Well, La Choy makes Chinese food swing American, don'tchaknow? ;P

                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                          huiray RE: kattyeyes Jul 23, 2012 11:20 AM


                                                                                                          1. re: huiray
                                                                                                            kattyeyes RE: huiray Jul 23, 2012 11:25 AM

                                                                                                            Catchy jingle. It crosses my mind from time to time. So funny in retrospect, isn't it? Even back in the day, I'm pretty sure we had Kikkoman and not La Choy, but of course there were those frozen eggrolls... HA HA HA.

                                                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                              buttertart RE: kattyeyes Jul 23, 2012 12:00 PM

                                                                                                              Having had La Choy recently (at my MIL's), it's a wonder Chinese food swung anything American, since it tastes mostly of tar and chemicals!

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                kattyeyes RE: buttertart Jul 23, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                LOL, I haven't eaten anything La Choy in decades myself. Let's say it swung us in the right direction as we appreciate far more about all Chinese ingredients now vs. then.

                                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                  buttertart RE: kattyeyes Jul 23, 2012 12:17 PM

                                                                                                                  And then some!

                                                                                                      2. eclecticsynergy RE: cimui Jul 23, 2012 03:43 PM

                                                                                                        Back in the 80s I upgraded from the black saltwater to Kikkoman. Earlier this year I was turned on to a brand called Wuan Chuang, naturally brewed in Taiwan. To my taste it's as much a step up as the Kikkoman was. It has real depth of flavor and overtones of miso. Quite excellent. I suppose some purists might say it's not a true soya sauce because it's made with black beans but I love the stuff.

                                                                                                        Here's a post from another thread about it (with a photo- it's a bit hard to find, because the only English on the front is fine print at the bottom) which also mentions a very good hot sauce called Lao Gan Ma :

                                                                                                        Highly recommended!

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: eclecticsynergy
                                                                                                          buttertart RE: eclecticsynergy Jul 24, 2012 02:30 PM

                                                                                                          Where are you getting it? It's the holy grail of soy sauces for me, I can't find it in NYC.

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                            eclecticsynergy RE: buttertart Sep 9, 2012 01:46 AM

                                                                                                            Buttertart, I'm in Albany. There's a pan-Asian market up the road in Colonie that carries it. truly excellent stuff.


                                                                                                            If they have a website I couldn't find it, but you might be able to get them to mail you a bottle or three- their phone is (518) 438-8886. Perhaps you could send them a self-addressed postage-paid box, like one of those "If it fits, it ships" priority mail boxes.

                                                                                                            The stuff is worth the extra effort!

                                                                                                            1. re: eclecticsynergy
                                                                                                              buttertart RE: eclecticsynergy Sep 9, 2012 05:04 PM

                                                                                                              Definitely interested!!! Odd it's in Albany and not in NYC, as far as I've seen.

                                                                                                        2. Bill Hunt RE: cimui Jul 25, 2012 09:42 PM

                                                                                                          Tabasco Spicy Soy Sauce is my all-time favorite.

                                                                                                          "Easy to find?" That depends on where you live, unless you wish to order on-line.


                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                            DishDelish RE: Bill Hunt Sep 4, 2012 10:59 PM

                                                                                                            I've never heard of this, it sounds wonderful!

                                                                                                          2. j
                                                                                                            John Francis RE: cimui Sep 9, 2012 12:55 AM

                                                                                                            The soy sauce packets I get with take-out sushi are Kikkoman brand, regular or low-sodium, and Kikkoman is usually on the restaurant table in the familiar bottle. So it's OK to follow the line of least resistance and stay with that.

                                                                                                            Nowadays I use Trader Joe's reduced sodium soy sauce, which is less expensive than Kikkoman. From the label: "Trader Joe's soy sauce is produced by a company in Japan which uses a traditional 6 month to 2 year natural brewing and fermentation method of making soy sauce called Honjozo. This method...uses only all natural ingredients." For what it's worth.

                                                                                                            Gourmet soy sauce, like gourmet salt, is a closed book to me. I'm a simple soul. :-)

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: John Francis
                                                                                                              grayelf RE: John Francis Sep 9, 2012 08:38 AM

                                                                                                              Grew up with Kikkoman but as an adult found it (had become) too caramelly for me. After a bit of testing, settled on Yamasa from Japan -- love that the translation tag that is mandatory here in BC calls it "fancy"! I use it for takeaway sushi and cooking Japanese at home, plus some bbq/grilling sauces, especially for cooking veg like Japanese eggplant. For Chinese cooking and snacks, I used the regular Pearl River Bridge both light and dark for years. Recently started buying the Golden Label Superior Light which tastes a bit richer and less salty and is still only $2.19 for 500 mL (!). I keep a bottle of Datu Piti toyomansi around for the days when I can't get my mitts on fresh calamansi and am craving pancit bihon. Also tried some Peruvian soy sauce, forget the brand, but didn't find it to be to my taste, a bit sweetish. I've never been a fan of sweet soy sauces, ketcap manis and the like, though, so not surprising.

                                                                                                            2. k
                                                                                                              KaHangLo RE: cimui Aug 6, 2013 08:07 AM

                                                                                                              There are a few good ones in the market for taste and body. i take it you want the light soy sauce.. 1. pearl River zbridge. 2. amoy 3. Tamari ( gluten free) 4. Cheong Chan ( Malaysian ). 5. tin Seong Tin ( Malaysia). The Ketchap Manis from Indoneasia is too sweet and lacks body. fat Boy brand is palatable. I am referring to light soy sauce for normal use in replcame and complimentary to salt.
                                                                                                              Try the internet for availability location with brand names. Lee Kum Kee is another good brand.

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