The Japanese Pantry

Usukuchi Soy Sauce with Koji & Organic Black Sesame Seeds

Two classic ingredients bring authentic Japanese flavors to your kitchen. In America, we see soy sauce as a cheap, mass-produced condiment, like ketchup or mustard. In Japan, a high-quality soy sauce, or shoyu, can be a focal point of a dish. A great soy sauce is regarded with the same respect and reverence as the finest sakes. In fact, both soy sauce and sake are brewed, and with a soy sauce like the one you’ll find in the Vices Japanese Kitchen Edition, each step, from sourcing the soybeans and wheat to the method of fermentation to the aging process, is just as much of an art.


There are more than a thousand soy sauce breweries, most of them small, making their shoyu with distinct flavor profiles particular to their regions. One of the best and most interesting we’ve come across is from Suehiro Shoyu, a brewery in Tatsuno City in the Hyogo prefecture (the birthplace of Usukuchi, a lighter style of soy sauce) that’s been around since 1879. It’s been brought to us by The Japanese Pantry, a company devoted to seeking out the best Japanese products and bringing them to North America.

The bottle has been designed to do justice to the shoyu; it’s worthy of a place of honor at any table. But what’s inside the bottle is even more remarkable. Even if you’ve visited Japan, you may not have had anything like it. Usukuchi soy sauce is light-colored, salty, and traditionally made for cooking. But Suehiro Shoyu, a company which has been making soy sauce since 1879, wanted to create an usukuchi that could be used for finishing or dipping. They wound up creating a unique type of usukuchi made with koji, the spores used for the fermentation of sake. The addition of the koji creates a rich, balanced umami flavor that’s milder and less salty than traditional usukuchi. You can use it as a dipping sauce for sushi, of course, but it can also be used as a seasoning for salads, tofu, or grilled chicken.

 Also courtesy of The Japanese Pantry is the bag of Wadaman Organic Black Sesame Seeds you’ll find inside the Vices Japanese Kitchen Edition. These aren’t just any sesame seeds. Based in Osaka, the family-owned Wadaman has been a manufacturer of sesame products since the late 1800s; the seeds in your bag have been roasted by fourth generation owner Etsuji Wada, who has been at the job for more than four decades. The organic seeds’ thick, nutty flavor works on everything from salads to rice dishes, but we love to sprinkle it on ice cream as a decadent-but-healthy topping.

To get creative recipes, find other products rarely seen outside Japan, and take a deeper dive into the country’s culinary culture, The Japanese Pantry is a must to investigate. Start perusing and shopping at