what are the finest brands for oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce? and where is one stop shop to buy best brands in manhattan?
i've been looking for the answer for these items for a long time and hope someone can help me stock the pantry right this time!
Kam Man on Canal has everything you need-try experimenting w different brands as ones taste is vastly different than others at times when it comes to these items.
There are different styles of soy sauce for different applications. For oyster sauce, Lee Kum Kee Premium makes a very briny oyster sauce that I like as a condiment. For fish sauce I am a Tiparos buyer, but I've heard very good things about Three Crabs.
The best selection and value are at Hong Kong Supermarket.
I like the Three Crabs one - haven't tried Tiparos. I usually shop at Kam Man - not familiar with Hong Kong Supermarket but will have to check it out.
To the OP - you might want to check out the General Topics board where I bet there are discussions about brands. I like Pearl River Soy Sauce, which I also buy at Kam Man, or the Vietnamese market on The Bowery.
In addition to Kam Man and Hong Kong Supermarket (which is too far away from the rest of the places I shop in Chinatown for me to get there very often) there's Asia Market @ 71 Mulberry. Smallish store with a surprisingly large selection at very good prices.
Regarding fish sauce: I have both Tiparos and Three Crabs. Tiparos seems more intense to me and I use it for marinating and in cooked dishes. Three Crabs seems more refined, and I'll use that in dipping sauces and salad dressings. Another brand that is often highly recommended is Golden Boy, but that's not as easy for me to find.
Agree with MMRuth that the Pear River brands of soy sauce are excellent, both light and dark, and second the recommendation from JungMann for the Lee Kum Kee Premium oyster sauce.
We're particular with soy suces and have one for marinating (usually just use the regular La Choy brand), but buy the more expensive seasoning and/or dipping soy sauce from Japanese stores usually from Katagiri on 59th Street. There are various kinds of these soy sauces and, yes, it is worth the extra tariff to splurge on them as they taste so much better than the regular ones.
I don't use Chinese soy sauce for Japanese foods that we attempt to cook at home. I was just providing an example.
Besides, for simple marinating, La Choy works me. However, when I need good dipping or seasoning sauce I go for the good (at least, what I consider to be good) , that are much more expensive, soy sauce.
It's just like when using wine in cooking. I can only afford to, and will, use drinkable but lower priced Pinot Noir or Burgundy for marinating my Boeuf Bourguignon. But I will open and quaff on my Grand Cru or Premier Cru bottles while enjoying the dish.
You didn't provide any suggestion, but for the benefit of the OP, what would you suggest that the OP buy and where?
Sorry if I sounded rude which I absolutely didn't mean to be. The reason that I didn't provide specific examples is because "fine brands" in my household are all artisian products (for both soy sauce and oyster sauce) that are made locally in Hong Kong and Japan. Whenever my mom or myself go back to Hong Kong or Japan we will bring back these products which are produced in small batches and are not exported overseas. The products available in Asian grocery stores are mostly commercialized goods produced in mass and have ingredients like MSG or preservatives. Personally I don't consider them the "finest brands".
However, that's not going to be helpful to the OP isn't it? I am not saying commercialized products are all back. There are definitely better quality products out there, albeit not so natural ingredients. Assuming OP is looking for Chinese soy sauce (as he /she is also asking oyster sauce and fish sauce), here are some suggestions:
- Lee Kum Kee Premium oyster sauce is quite good (must be the Premium kind or the Original kind, others are not so good). There is another brand of which the English name I don't recall (in Chinese it is something called Goon Yak Wah Kee) that is also quite good.
- For Chinese Soy Sauce, Someone mentioned Lee Kum Kee's Double Deluxe which I like. I will use either Double Deluxe Dark and Light Soy Sauce for cooking. For dipping, the First Pressed Premium Soy Sauce for Lee Kum Kee is fine. I do not recommend any of the Lee Kum Kee's ready to use sauces like curry sauce, mapo sauce, etc. They are not so tasty. Other Chinese soy sauces that work well is Kim Lan. I used to like Pearl River but I found their quality to have slipped overtime.
Oh, and the Lee Kum Kee's Sweet soy sauce is indeed quite good for dim sum.
I have a whole other lines of Japanese soy sauce for Japanese food.
For fish sauce, I like 3 crabs. I have a Vietnamese fish sauce (40C) that I bought in Hong Kong but couldn't find here. Another EXTREMELY good fish sauce is one from Japan (surprise!) made entirely from Ayu (a small sweet fish in Japan). The ingredients are just Ayu, water, and salt. Taste like gold! Sweet and delightly and nothing fishy at all. It is pricey ($15 for 100ml) but it is my favorite by far!
Lastly, I singled out La Choy because it really ISN'T soy sauce. Look at the ingredients. It doesn't even have soy. It has soy protein and caramalized color or something. It's literally flavored water, not soy sauce!
Think about it -- the amount of soy sauce in most Chinese recipes dwarfs much of the others. The LaChoy and Kikkoman and brands like that are crap. In Chinese markets, at least out here in California, there is an inexpensive Soy Superior and Mushroom Soy that are in bottles the size of wine bottles and the shape of reds. The flavor is deeper and richer and not just salt.
I have many different soy sauces in my pantry but these are in my constant rotation:
Kikkoman soy for sushi.
Maggi for taste
Lee Kum Kee sweet soy for dim sum
Lee Kum kee dark
Lee Kum kee light
Golden mountain for taste
Ponzu for seafood
Three crab fish sauce
Lee kum kee oyster sauce
Lets not get started about hot sauce now...
Have you tried the Maggi from overseas (specifically France)? I never knew there was a difference but when I went to Paris my girlfriend's aunt asked us to bring back Maggi Arome Saveur back. Little bottle here is like over $10, bigger bottle up to $30. Then my sister's mother in law asked for some, then everyone started asking. We brought back cases of the stuff.
Has a lighter fresher taste