Food Product

The Best Tonkatsu Sauce Brands (and Bottled vs. Homemade)

I don’t know about you, but I have a thing for katsu curry, although one does not live just on curry alone, which is why I have a bottle of tonkatsu sauce and Wor-stuh-chester-suuure-hobbit-shire sauce (with the sauce stained wrap).

Doing a “homemade ketchup” seems almost pointless since most start with tomato paste, which most will often be a canned version. So the same goes for tonkatsu sauce which consists of vegetables and fruits. Except when you see most recipes for “quick and easy” tonkatsu sauce via Just One Cookbook, it requires Worcestershire, ketchup to oyster sauce, so how is that “homemade” (I love JOC tho).

If I grew my own cotton, then processed it into yarn which I later weaved, cut, and sewed into a t-shirt, that would be from scratch. Although buying fabric and sewing it together into a shirt is like most of the recipes for homemade tonkatsu sauce (so what is the point?).

Yea, that red dot signifies summaries if you are looking for a quick read.

Under the Influence of an Influencer Check

Before moving on, I am here to check to make sure nobody is under the influence of an influencer. The first test of that is if you know “tonkatsu” is deep-fried pork cutlet, not “tonkotsu” or pork (ton) bone broth (kotsu). If you knew that, you good, move the hell on.

Bull-Dog and Otafuku Are the Two Major Japanese Tonkatsu Sauce Brands

Photo Description: the Bulldog and and Otafuku logos.

Bull-Dog: Bull-Dog Sauce has a history spanning over 100 years and is considered one of Japan’s representative condiments. 

Yes, these are the TWO most popular/best tonkatsu sauce brands in the United States (and to a large extent, Japan).

These are two companies that are centuries old.
Photo Description: the product line up by Bull-Dog which consists of Worcestershire sauce and tonkatsu sauce.Bull-Dog is one of, if not the best tonkatsu brand.
Bull-Dog does woo-stuh-sher sauce and tonkatsu sauce.

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, when western food was starting to spread in Japanese homes, a shop called Misawaya (now Bull-Dog Sauce, established in 1902) developed a sauce that would suit Japanese tastes based on Worcestershire Sauce. It succeeded not as a cooking ingredient or secret ingredient, but as condiment used as is on western foods like cutlets and fried foods. After that, as “Bull-Dog Sauce” began to reach Japanese homes, it greatly impacted the development of Japanese food culture, starting with tonkatsu.”

– Bull-Dog, Tokyo, Japan

Otafuku: In 1998, Otafuku Sauce Co. expanded to the United States and set up their North American branch, Otafuku Foods, in Torrance, CA. The subsidiary operated in the South Bay for 15 years before moving to Santa Fe Springs, CA., to establish a location with a factory and a warehouse as well as an office.

Photo Description: Otafuku product line up of yakisoba, okonomi, sushi, and tonkatsu sauce.
You see that face right there? That is the face of “good fortune,” and if you want to learn more, you or another tab away (folk art museum of Texas) from learning.

The history of Otafuku Foods, Inc. goes back to 1922 when Sasaki Shoten opened for business as a sake and soy sauce wholesale/retail store in Hiroshima, Japan.

The rice vinegar brewery started operations in 1938, and the company lost everything when the atomic bomb hit the city of Hiroshima. Vinegar production had to be restarted from scratch after the war.

– Otafuku, Hiroshima, Japan.

Tonkatsu Sauce Ingredients

Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Sugar, Distilled Vinegar (Made from Alcohol), Tomato Paste, Salt, Modified Rice Starch, Apple Puree, Yeast Extract (Contains Soy), Prune Paste, Spices, Carrots, Onions, Lemon Juice.

I am not yelling below, I just did not take the time to rewrite everything in lowercase text.

Otafuku tonkatsu sauce ingredients: WATER, SUGAR, TOMATO PASTE, CONCENTRATED RAISIN JUICE, WHITE DISTILLED VINEGAR, SALT, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, GLUTEN FREE SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEANS AND SALT), APPLE PUREE, SPICES, PEACH PUREE, YEAST EXTRACT, ONION PASTE, XANTHAN GUM, DATES, HYDROLYZED SOY PROTEIN, MUSHROOM EXTRACT, KELP POWDER.

Otafuku utilizes natural ingredients and are vegan, contain no artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, or HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).

This level of quality is common amongst a number of popular Japanese brands.

Tonkatsu Sauce Price Comparison

After doing the research, I had to do a double take a couple times because the Bull-Dog pricing fluctuates so much. Also note, Takaski ships directly from Japan, so they have ridiculous pricing although SugoiMart has a great deal for a 500ml (that is cheaper and 200ml larger).

BULL-DOGPRICE/VENDOR
300ml
10oz
$7.99/JapaneseTaste
$7.98/Nijiya
$4.49/Safeway
$7.00/Walmart
500ml
16.9oz
$8.99/iGourmet
$11.99/JapaneseTaste
$6.00/SugoiMart
$19.80/Takaski

If you are purchasing Otafuku products, they seem to be substantially cheaper if you buy direct, and you are also helping to support this blog and my dream of eating more Alaskan king crab (I have thing for crab).

OTAFUKUPRICE/VENDOR
414ml
14oz
$10.29/Amazon
$7.49/Otafuku Direct
1800ml
60.8oz
$19.20/MTC Kitchen
1/2 Gallon
77.9oz
$21.99/Amazon
$14.49/Otafuku Direct
10g
.35oz
(800pc)
$72/Otafuku Direct

(psss, support my crab fund and you get sauce in return).

Tonkatsu, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba Sauce, and Plum Sauce. Are They All the Same?

Now, I have to admit, I have bottles of both sauces although I have never done a back to back taste test of tonkatsu, okonomiyaki, and yakisoba. Yet, in my head, if I got them mixed up, I wonder if I would notice the difference? Oh, and for that site that tried to compare it with hoisin to teriyaki sauce, yea, no (they cited it because “both are Asian origin”). Tonkatsu sauce is more like a combo of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup if you never had it, and you want to know how tonkatsu sauce tastes like.

Several food bloggers will lump all Asian sauces in as a reference to one another although trade throughout history was global. An example of that is ketchup (ketsiap is from China), Worcestershire (from England in the early 1800’s), and tomato paste (*Western South America and Italy).

– *Czarnikow, Ingredients Product Portfolio: Tomato Paste
SAUCE TYPEINGREDIENTS
Okonomi
Sauce
Sugar, white vinegar, molasses, salt, tomato paste, apple, carrot, peach, dates, onions, raisins, mushrooms, garlic, kelp and spices (“you didn’t think we were going to give away our secrets, now did you?” – Otafuku) among other ingredients.
Oyster
Sauce
Oysters, water salt, sugar, MSG, modified corn starch, wheat flour, and caramel color. The source, “hungry Huy” (I like the name of the website).
Plum
Sauce
Sugar, rice vinegar, salted pluums, ginger, and salted garlic and chilies. My source is the Woks of Life (I specifically sought out a Chinese focused website).
Tonkatsu
sauce
Water, sugar, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, to raisin juice, apple/peach puree, and mushrooms, kelp, and vegetables like carrot to onion. Source, the gist of the above ingredients.
Worcestershire
sauce
Barley malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, shallots/onions, garlic, spice, and “flavourings.” Source, good ole Wiki.
Yakisoba
sauce
Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and sugar (or honey). Source Just One Cookbook (JOC)
I won’t compare tonkatsu sauce with teriyaki or hoisin sauce because I am not “those people.”
Photo Description: a really good image of Otafuku's Okonomi sauce product packaging, along with all the ingredients that are contained within it such as soy sauce, apples, grain vinegar, onions, date juice, carrots, garlic, sugar, shiitake mushrooms, and tomatoes.
Otafuku’s social media is worth the follow because I typically can not say that about a lot of Japanese companies, but they do good content.

One Other Thing

When I Googled “Best Tonkatsu sauce,” this article pops up, and if you are looking for a worthwhile article to check out, this article tops them all by Tasty Island Hawaii, The Great Tonkatsu Sauce Shootout (posted way back on December 7th, 2009), respect tho.

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