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China Lily Soya Sauce

I can't seem to find it anywhere now. I know it isn't the high end chi-chi soya, but I find it very handy for beef marinades. Does anyone know where to find it

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  1. Can't you sub pretty much any decent dark soy? Pearl River Bridge should do the trick, no? I'll keep my eyes peeled here in Windsor. I'm coming to Toronto this week. For a fellow cheese fries-loving Toby's Goodeats fan, I'd be willing to pick up a few for you and transport them with me to T.O,, should I find them here (we have a sizeable Chinese community and many soy options, even at Zehrs). My mother used China Lily dark throughout my childhood for her marinated pork tenderloin.

    1. I see it at Loblaws but HIghland Farms might be a better bet for their bigger selection. Pearl River Bridge light soy(widely available)is also good for marinades, especially beef.

      1. I saw it recently being sold at the Foody's Supermarket in North Scarborough. However, I shyed away from it because they didn't use tamper-proof bottling/packaging.

        1. The rap against China Lily Soy sauce is its blackened color and and almost burnt taste.
          It is made by the expedient hydrolyzed soy process (I'm not qualified to explain this, but it is not naturally brewed like Kikkoman or Pearl River.)
          I'd go with the suggestions to use Pearl River, available light or dark.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jayt90

            Pearl River Bridge dark soy comes close--that stuff is pretty inky compared to their light version and Kikkoman.

          2. China Lily has always been my favourite soya sauce, probably because it's what my mother always used. It has been hard to find, though. The closest tasting soya sauce I've found is the NoName brand from Loblaws/Superstore.

            7 Replies
            1. re: middydd

              That's it exactly. China Lily is synthetic soy sauce, altogether acrid and unpleasant. However, if that's the one you grew up with, it tastes right.

              I still remember a commercial from my childhood: "La Choy makes Chinese food taste ...American!" The first time I ate at a good Chinese restaurant, the "suey sauce" didn't taste good at all. I learned, though.

              1. re: embee

                So, what are some good brands of soy sauce?

                I also use Kikkoman and Tamari brand.

                I think I know what you mean about the "acrid" taste, kind of like coffee left on the burner too long.

                I guess I'm looking for a rich tasting soya sauce, not too yeasty, with less of that "bite" to it. Recommendations?

                1. re: middydd

                  I'm always amazed at the taste of Kikkoman on rice; it may be on the light side, but the taste is more transparent than Pearl River light.
                  When Kikkoman set up in Wisconsin (to be close to a good supply of soy beans) the taste remained the same as the Japanese product.
                  Good tamari is hard to find and may not be consistent. Correctly made, it is the run off from a vat of miso but there are commercial short cuts, used by most companies cashing in on the name.

                  1. re: middydd

                    Of the widely available brands, Kikkoman is probably your best bet. However, you need to read the labels carefully. They make dozens of varieties, covering the price and quality range from top to bottom.

                    Lee Kum Kee is another widely distributed brand that covers the entire price/quality spectrum.

                    Pearl River is a mid range brand that is usually decent.

                    Kikkoman specializes in Japanese style sauces while the other two brands are Chinese. The styles are quite different. I've no idea which ones you might/might not like.

                    Beyond these brands, the soy sauce selection at a Chinese supermarket is mind boggling. However, if you are really craving China Lily, few are likely to satisfy it.

                    1. re: embee

                      Thanks for the recommendations. I'm looking forward to trying them.

                      1. re: embee

                        There's a yellow label Loblaws NoName soy that might come close to the rasty goodness of China Lily--it's cheap enough to try and pitch if it doesn't!

                        1. re: embee

                          I got Pearl River Bridge soya sauce and used some of the light and some dark in fried rice. It was excellent!!

                          Now I'm interested in trying some other brands.

                  2. Why don't you call Lee's Food Products and ask how to get some?


                    1. I also started a thread on this one a while back - someone actually wrote in from Vancouver looking for it! It's the one I grew up with as well, so sometimes that's just the one you want.

                      It's available at Top Food on Brown's Line in Etobicoke if you're out that way. Also try any small local convienience store you're going past in Toronto - the production is apparently fairly small scale these days so they don't make enough to supply the big guys but can handle small qtys for the local places. Which makes the availability spotty, but at least it's still around.

                      1. I know that I'd see it in the past at Fruit King (Logan and Danforth) so you may want to check there, or I can check next time I pass by.

                        1. Didn't they stop making this altogether?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nevar

                            I don't understand why people that want weird stuff ask here instead of asking the source. Just for fun I called Lee's Food Products and they told me it is still made, and gave me a list of places that sell it. A few are:

                            Masselli's Supermarket
                            BJ Supermarket

                            They also mentioned some convenience store at Church and Wellesley, and some places in Kensington Market. One place was "Zimmermans"

                            I had the answer in a total of one minute.
                            Case closed.

                          2. A few months ago, I saw China Lily Soya Sauce at Bestwin Supermarket, 1400 Victoria Park, between Eglinton and St. Clair.

                            1. don't they make it in Leslieville?
                              i swore the decrepit old building on Queen E and Leslie (southeast corner) is the China Lily factory.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: atomeyes

                                Yeah, I pass that old building every day on the streetcar. It always looks near-abandoned. If there's any soy sauce activity in there, they sure keep it well hidden.

                              2. Thanks for all of the replies. They've all been very helpful even if a couple of answers were a little surly.

                                To be sure, my kitchen includes Pearl River for Chinese style dishes and Yamasa for Japanese. I never did care much for Kikkoman. I use China Lily exclusively for red meat marinades because it contains more sugar than salt. I like that. Sure I could add sugar, but why would I? Since it's only one of a list of ingredients I don't worry about natural brewing. The 'burnt' taste works for me in this application.

                                FoodyDudey, I might have followed up on your suggestion of calling had my home computer not been broken down for a week. I didn't see what you said until today and couldn't look up a thing myself. I did, for the record, do an exhaustive search by foot in many markets, convenience stores, specialty stores, and grocery stores. I hadn't searched in quite a while courtesy of the vat-sized container of China Lily I last bought so I wasn't really expecting this much trouble. Thanks for making the call for me. You are my convenience store.

                                Kagemusha, your recommendations were once again stellar. You certainly know your ingredients.

                                I did end up buying, but not yet trying, No Name due to the sugar:salt ratio and low-end ingredients. If it doesn't work out I know exactly which convenience store at Church and Wellesley I'm donning my mukluks to get to. Thanks again everyone.

                                1. I have to agree with others in my frowning on the use of China Lily, but that's simply because I think it's deplorable to use MSG (hydrolyzed proteins) and a whole slew of other substandard ingredients in a product that really doesn't require it.

                                  I also have to say that I left Pearl River Bridge behind me a year or so ago, and thank goodness for that, because while it's okay, there are so many better soy sauces available out there! I recently tried a brand for my Chinese cooking called, strangely, "Kung-Fu" (plastic bottle with yellow label), which everyone I've served it to proclaims as delicious. Indeed, it's so good that I sometimes take a sip right from the bottle. I find that Pearl River Bridge, despite being all-natural in its ingredient list, had a slight chemical "off" taste to it, and provided disappointing results in my food.