When I first had sushi, I immediately understood why it is such a staple of Japanese cuisine. The combination of raw seafood, vegetables, and other seasonings wrapped in sushi rice and Nori (dried edible seaweed) creates an explosion of unique flavor in your mouth—something you don’t typically get in other dishes.
Creating a pretty yet appetizing sushi roll requires time and skill. The exquisite flavor is the result of meticulous attention to detail in the culinary arts. And, when you pair it with the right kind of soy sauce, you’ll get to enjoy and appreciate the flavor even more.
This is not to say that’s the only way to enjoy your sushi. You don’t use soy sauce to give the sushi a salty taste. The soy sauce used in sushi masks the fishy smell. It is also a great way to add the numerous amino acids found in soy sauce to your sushi, enhancing the umami or savory flavor.
But how do you know whether you’re buying the right kind of soy sauce? I have no idea what your preferences are. Soy sauce comes in various types and flavor profiles, and there are brands that cater to certain taste preferences.
One thing is for sure though; the best soy sauce should be able to enhance the flavor of your sushi roll.
So I decided to ask my sushi-loving friends as well as customer reviews to find the best soy sauce on the market. Check out my top favorites below!
The Best Soy Sauces for Sushi
|Kishibori Shoyu Pure Artisan Japanese Soy Sauce||– All natural; barrel-aged|
– Contains no preservatives
– Has a milder fuller flavor than most soy sauce
|HAKU Black Garlic Shoyu Soy Sauce||– Has flavors notes of raisin, fig, molasses, and garlic subtleties|
– Has complex aromas of fermented soybeans and earthiness
|Yamaroku Shoyu Pure Artisan Japanese Soy Sauce||– Fermented in century-old Kioke barrels|
– Has a pure taste of sweet and salty
– No added preservatives and artificial coloring
|Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce||– Naturally brewed and aged|
– Offers complex flavor and delicate aroma
|Otafuku Sushi Eel Sauce||– Thick and rich unagi sauce|
– Gluten-free and 100% vegan
– No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
For some, the salty flavor of soy sauce makes all the difference in their sushi. The Kishibori Shoyu Pure Artisan Japanese Soy Sauce has a nice mild-aged flavor that pairs well with sushi.
This brand continues a great and historic legacy of producing high-quality products in Japan. Their careful production process is evident in the taste of the soy sauce’s high-quality ingredients. The slow fermentation, without a doubt, helps to bring out those nuances.
On the first dip, you can’t really tell much of a shift in taste. Its flavor profile, however, has a delicate nuanced salty aspect to it. This soy sauce also has the right amount of umami so it won’t be overpowering. Instead, it lends an exceptionally unique and absolutely exquisite flavor that any true sushi fan will definitely enjoy.
So, rather than masking the existing flavor, the heavy sodium imparts a clean taste. Which is why it’s best used for dipping sushi rolls and not for cooking.
Here’s another artisanal soy sauce that exemplifies a few of the latest trends in Japan’s culinary industry. If you’re ready to try something different, the HAKU Black Garlic Shoyu Soy Sauce provides an amazing dipping sauce and sushi companion.
This soy sauce combines the qualities of shoyu and black garlic into a single condiment. It has rich aromas of fermented soybeans and earthiness. As well as flavors of raisin, fig, molasses, and garlic nuances. Sounds a bit mouthful, but you’ll soon experience it yourself.
But despite having those extra ingredients, you can still taste the shoyu. Some of the reviews I’ve read praised the finished product because it perfectly sums up how shoyu and black garlic complement each other’s flavor profiles. All without overpowering their own unique flavors.
If you’re looking for something that will add depth and enhance the flavor of your sushi, then this soy sauce could be a great choice.
The Yamaroku Shoyu Pure Artisan Japanese Soy Sauce is one of my personal favorites. I think it’s the real deal because it’s not like any other soy sauce I’ve tasted that gives you the excessive salty flavor. This Japanese soy sauce offers a rich mellow flavor to any sushi rolls, sashimi, tofu, and more.
This original Asian umami gourmet soy sauce is made with soybeans, wheat, salt, and water with no preservatives, artificial coloring, or fillers. It’s the ideal combination of sweet and salty. And, instead of overpowering the flavor, it brings out your sushi’s flavor.
Fermented in century-old Kioke barrels, the brand guarantees that this soy sauce is crafted using careful manufacturing processes. Not to mention, this process is a fading craft in Japan, since it accounts for barely 1 percent of all soy sauce production. Which is why I tend to appreciate fermented soy sauces more.
Kikkoman is the brand that I grew up with. I used to mix their Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce over rice, and it was essentially our family’s go-to soy sauce. So, when it’s great for fried rice recipes, imagine the flavor enhancement it does for your sushi rolls.
Unlike many soy sauces found in several Asian restaurants, this Kikkoman soy sauce doesn’t have a very bitter-tasting flavor. This soy sauce has a sweet taste. It still has some bitterness, but not too overpowering. The condiment contains a surprising amount of sweetness for a condiment known for its bitterness.
What I love about this soy sauce is that you can put a large quantity of it over white rice, without it becoming disgusting to the taste. Which is something that you can’t simply do with other brands of soy sauce. Its sweetness also makes rice dishes more texture-filled to savor.
To the confused folks here, no—this sushi sauce doesn’t contain eel. The Otafuku Sushi Eel Sauce is an unagi that is made of mainly gluten-free soy sauce, sweet cooking rice wine, sugar, white distilled vinegar, ginger puree, and water.
What I like about this sushi sauce is that it is richer and thicker than regular traditional soy sauce, which makes for a great pairing with sushi rolls. You can even use it for other various cooking preparations like marinating, drizzling, or glazing.
This unagi sauce has a good amount of flavor. Not so light that you can’t taste it, but it also isn’t so powerful that you can’t taste your sushi roll.
Certain eel sauces you’ll find in many restaurants can be really overbearing, which is not ideal if you want to dip sushi, so this is a wonderful flavor accent. Plus, it’s not too runny or thin, nor is it super thick that you can’t get the sauce out of the bottle.
If you want a restaurant-style sushi sauce, then this could be a wonderful addition to your food condiments.
Types of Soy Sauce
Before you go out and grab that bottle of soy sauce, you first need to learn about the different types of soy sauce on the market. A Japanese soy sauce doesn’t have the same taste as Filipino, Thai, Korean, or Chinese soy sauces—come on, not all Asians look the same.
Besides the flavor profile, main ingredients and manufacturing processes may differ. As a result, each soy sauce brings a unique taste to your favorite rice dish.
Dark Soy Sauce (Koikuchi)
Koikuchi, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all Japanese soy sauces, began in Japan’s Kanto region. It has since spread throughout the country and the rest of the world.
Dark soy sauces are made of equal parts soybean and wheat with a good saltiness, deep umami flavor. Many Japanese households have koikuchi in their pantries.
Light Soy Sauce (Usukuchi)
This type of soy sauce is lighter in color and it makes up around 10 to 15 percent of all Japanese soy sauces. Its formula contains more salt than koikuchi. And this results in a saltier and less fermented sauce than other soy sauces.
Usukuchi originates in Japan’s Kansai region and is ideally suited for dishes that need a more delicate umami flavor.
Tamari Soy Sauce
Tamari soy sauces are darker and are most often used in Japan’s Chubu region. Out of all the types of Japanese soy sauces, it is the only wheat-free Japanese soy sauce. Much like any other soy sauce, it offers a rich umami flavor that complements sushi and sashimi.
Whole Bean Soy Sauce (Marudaizu Shoyu)
Other Japanese soy sauces contain both whole and defatted soybeans. But marudaizu shoyu only contains only whole soybeans. Such soy sauces offer a milder but more complex flavor than koikuchi sauces or a regular soy sauce. They complement Japanese sushi so well but they often cost more.
White Soy Sauce (Shiro Shoyu)
This is another light-colored soy sauce made of primarily wheat that is brewed with a small hint of soybean. White soy sauce has a mild and notably sweet flavor. If you want something that is flavorful without adding too much color to your dishes, then this type of soy sauce is ideal.
Reduced Salt Soy Sauce (Genen Shoyu)
Low sodium soy sauces are a pretty new concept that are manufactured by taking koikuchi soy sauce through a unique fermentation process. This keeps the flavor while lowering salt content by half. If you’re leaning towards a healthier diet, a genen shoyu is your best bet.
Choosing a Soy Sauce for Americanized Sushi
If you want Americanized sushi, the emphasis is on rolls. Which means that you don’t need a special soy sauce as you won’t be able to tell the difference, anyway. In choosing a sushi soy sauce, you may want to consider the following:
Use a Japanese brand. Japanese soy sauce has a particular flavor that distinguishes it from any other type of soy sauce. It also compliments Japanese food well. Most soy sauces in my list are Japanese, you shouldn’t find it hard to look for one.
Go for an all-purpose soy sauce like koikuchi. Kikkoman is one of the most sought-after brands of soy sauces by many sushi bars.
Try low-sodium options like Gene shoyu soy sauces. They are great for health-conscious folks.
Opt for gluten-free soy sauces. If you wish to limit gluten, you may opt for Otafuku Sushi Eel Sauce, which is a soy-based sauce processed without adding wheat.
Best Soy Sauce for Sushi FAQs
What soy sauce is the best for sushi?
When it comes to dipping sushi, Shoyu is your best option. It is a type of fermented soy sauce containing soybeans, water, salt, and wheat. Shoyu is the traditional soy sauce in Japan, and it is crucial in the preparation of sushi.
What soy sauce do sushi shops use?
Many sushi bars use Tamari soy sauce. It is the only Japanese soy sauce that doesn’t contain wheat. Tamari soy sauce has a rich umami flavor that goes well with sushi and sashimi. It also complements well with senbei as well as other grilled meals.
Should I use light or dark soy sauce sushi?
Dark soy sauce is a staple for dipping sushi. Shoyu comes in both dark and light types, however, Japanese soy sauces tend to be comparable to light Chinese soy sauce which is why it is more commonly used in recipes.
If you’re new to Japanese cooking, it would be best to start with black soy sauce as it’s quite adaptable.
So, What’s the Best Soy Sauce for Sushi?
I think that finding the best soy sauce for sushi boils down to one’s personal taste, which is why I paid close consideration to the various flavor profiles of the sauces here. As well as how each bottle can enhance your sushi-dipping experience.
The products I’ve discussed above are only a few selections of the sushi soy sauces that my fellow sushi fans and I loved. And I hope you find your new favorites among my top sushi sauce choices. And as always, good luck!