The Best Sushi Sauces and Toppings for Rolls (The Ones Used by Restaurants)

From homemade to store-bought, these are the sauces you will find on Americanized sushi rolls from a caterpillar to a dragon roll and everything else you need to slather (emphasis on “slather”) on top of your rolls.

A few sauces are produced from scratch in a restaurant, but far fewer go through that hassle, which is why I have included recipes and bottled options.

The list below will allow you to produce these sauces from scratch, or if you want to be like the type of business Gordon Ramsay is yelling “you bloody donkey” at for being lazy for having everything come out of a bottle, have at it. Except, you don’t know Gordon, and he does not know you exist, so feel free to be lazy, you donkey.

Do you know what is great on top of fish and rice? Sauce, and more sauce, with sauce on top of a sauce (spicy to the sweet sauce), dipped in soy sauce. If that sounds good, you are in the right place for sauce and more sauce.

I worked in a Japanese owned sushi bar, so I finally know a little something about what brand of sauces Japanese restaurants use.
Photo Description: americanized sushi roll with sauce and crunchy stuff placed on the roll.
Nothing says Murica like salsa bars, sauces, and sushi rolls.

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain Amazon and other affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

Homemade, Bottled, Pricing, and Where to Buy

Amazon sometimes charges some jacked up prices which is why I give so many Amazon affiliate sites crap because they are steering their readers down an eff’d up path to make a buck. In my case, I will not recommend any site that I would not personally use, or a price on a product I would not pay myself.

The black outlined button is the “buy now” option if you trust my judgment on the best brand/option for you. EDIT: I updated this post on 9/26/22 to give you competing options and to make it quicker and easier to purchase vs. having to read (reading is for sucka’s).

Except for a couple products I mention, I do not provide a link because I cannot find a reliable online retailer.

Sushi sauces and toppings used in Japanese restaurants (in the US)

In a Japanese restaurant, many of these sauces are produced from scratch ingredients. Except with the popularity of Japanese food throughout the world, many non-Japanese staffed restaurants have the convenience of purchasing many of the sauces in bottled form. So that ease is passed on down to you.

Sweet Sushi Sauce
(Black Colored Sauce)

The vast majority of this stuff is basically a teriyaki sauce (soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and optional ginger and garlic) although it is similar to eel sauce/unagi/kabayaki sauce (mirin, sake, sugar, and soy sauce). This stuff is easy to make, but if you do not plan on producing it all the time, or what I read off (ingredients) sounds like “Hitachi, Sony, Mitsubishi, judo, pikachu,” then buy a bottle.

Why “sushi sauce” because calling it “eel sauce” would throw people off since that is what you can use it for although the sauce is 100% vegan, no artificial flavors, and cuz Murica, gluten-free.

Otafuku is also a restaurant supplier, so I will provide their Murica Big Gulp/F-350 sizes (service industry sizes).
Photo Description: Sushi Sauce by Otafuku is a black bottle with a red label. On the bottle is an americanized roll with sushi sauce covering it.
Otafuku “eel” sauce

Your Options: Otafuku Sushi Sauce, the link below is for a tiny single bottle (15oz), $7.49 or if you want to go big (82.5oz and 83.8oz restaurant size), $20.49.

Spicy Mayonnaise
(Orangish Colored Sauce)

Another real easy one to produce, and I would prep it every other day in the restaurant. The recipe is simply Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie brand), and Huy Fong sriracha although you can spike it with all sorts of Asian hot chili sauces from Korean gochujang to Huy Fong chili garlic sauce. The most reliable recipe source is Just One, although all you need to it from “scratch” is Kewpie mayo (kewpieshop) and Huy Fong sriracha (Target to a million and one places offer this product).

This product is America’s contribution to sushi which reflects our diverse population and its influences. The sauce is by Huy Fong, the American company by David Tran, a Vietnamese American in the SGV, and his product sriracha.

Davi did not try to copyright or do anything to protect the “sriracha” brand that he made a household name which is gangsta on his part (kind of like Elon Musk not doing patents, they are both not afraid of competition or competitors).

Your Options

Two options here 1). the Japanese way which is a Japanese brand of mayonnaise with Huy Fong sriracha hot sauce or 2). the easy way which is to buy an off-the-shelf product by Lee Kum Kee.

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise

This product is in every Japanese restaurant and it is the Japanese mayonnaise that Japanese use (yolks only, not egg whites, so it is not like Best Foods American mayo).

(ABOVE/BELOW): is what a lot of restaurants who do not want an “off the shelf” solution, so they will mix up their own blend using Japanese (mayo) kewpie, along with Huy Fong (the originators) Sriracha chili hot sauce. From there, you can add in additional spices such as Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chili Oil or whatever the hell your chef-self likes (like why not a green chili of sorts, and if you do that, remember, you heard that idea here).

Huy Fong, the originators of sriracha

The Sriracha Mayo brand is by the Chinese company Lee Kum Kee 15oz/$9.40 (this link is to Walmart because they are everywhere but below is my affiliate link to support the site. It also requires a larger commitment of twice the amount of sauce).

Photo Description: LEE KUM KEE bottle of Sriracha Mayo which is orange sauce. The label is red and white with the logo and the words "Sriracha Mayo, spread and dressing."
Lee Kum Kee, the easy way

Tenkasu/Tempura Bits
(Those Crunchy Bits)

In a Japanese restaurant, this is a byproduct of deep-frying tempura (batter fried foods), but a lot of lazy mofo restaurants will opt for pre-made tempura which means no leftover bits. Well, that is not a problem because restaurants can purchase this product through their food supplier, and homecooks can purchase Otafuku tenkasu. Except, like always Just One Cookbook offers up competing links and her recipe on how to produce your own.

Tenkasu is the leftover bits when cooking tempura (deep-fried veggies to seafood), and you can cook it yourself, here is the recipe on Just One Cookbook.

These are crunchy little bits used as a topping for rolls.
Photo Description: it looks like a bag of tempura "crisps" and the words "premium." Also on the packaging is "sushi roll," "okonomiyaki," and "udon."

Your Options: Otafuku supplies a lot of the sauces and toppings for sushi restaurants, so it should not be surprise that they have tenkasu.

Palate Cleanser
(Pickled Sushi Ginger)

I did not realize I needed to add this till I saw how many people were landing on this page looking for pickled ginger (shoga).

Your Options

The vast majority of all restaurants use pickled ginger (shoga) from all the major Japanese food distributor brands like JFC/Yuho, Wismettac/Shirakiku and Wel-pac.

Photo Description: Shirakiku pickled ginger
Shirakiku (I think $15 is overpriced)

This isn’t a natural color and it is due to Red#40 being added.

In the restaurant, we had a trash can sized container with all of our ginger, and the worst is having to reach in and grab some in hopes your “finger condom” aka finger cots will protect you, it didn’t.

If you wanted to torture anybody, this would be an easy way to do it.
Photo Description: Yahoo pickled ginger
Yuho distributed by JFC (a Japanese food distributor)

Ponzu Sauce
(Citrus Soy Sauce)

In the restaurant I had worked at, we did our blend, but it is super easy to just buy one. My favotie is a yuzupon (my favorite type of citrus for ponzu is yuzu out of sudachi, kabosu, to lemon), but it will cost you because yuzu is pricey, which is why the affordably priced Kikkoman is a lackluster lemon? critrus version ponzu. The featured product, is my affordable recommendation which only cites “citrus juice” as their citrus, but that’s cool, it tastes good.

The variety of ponzu is endless, and I would rate lemon ponzu at the bottom with Japanese yuzu at the top (it is a Japanese fruit, a lot like lemon but less sour).

My favorite ponzu of all time is a brand that I wanted to sell myself since I cannot find it online at a competitive price (that is how much I love it). I also have a TOP 10 ponzu list.

Your Options

Two options listed below

Photo Description: the Mizkan Ajipon bottle has a white and orangish colored label and a yellow cap. The label has Japanese kana and the Eigo "ajipon," "ponzu," "citrus seasoned soy sauce."
A very popular Japanese brand.

My guess is that you are not stocking up your bunker or restaurant, so I doubt you will want the Otakfuku 1/2 gallon. If I am right, your first option is a Japanese brand that I am recommending, but the pricing on Amazon is ridiculous Mizkan ajipon, 12oz, $14.99. The second is Kikkoman ponzu, which I am not a fan of. So, I have to introduce another vendor that I have never purchased anything off of, but they sell Mizkan Ajipon for (12oz/355ml) $3.69. My all time favorite yuzu ponzu (the nectar of the gods brand), I won’t even bother providing a link because Amazon charges $45 (in CA, at a Japanese market it goes for $9-12 which they do not sell online – I could profit from it by providing a link, but I will pass on the opportunity).

This is my absolutely favorite ponzu of all time, and I wanted to build an e-commerce site to only sell this ponzu although the wholesale prices were just ridiculous. Well, do I think the online prices are also overpriced? Yes, I do, but since I do not live within 6 miles of three japanese markets, I can no longer get it for $9-12, so I decided to not decide for you.

Soy Sauce
(The Stuff You Dip or
Where Your Sushi
Chillaxes in)

For any Americanized sushi, the soy sauce does not have to be fancy, and you should probably stick with either Kikkoman or Yamasa (koikuchi “general purpose soy sauce”). These two brands are iconic in Japanese cuisine, and sushi restaurants, and they are the brands I mentioned in my top soy sauce brands listing.

This is the number one soy sauce in the United States (based on sales data), and it is also a product with no artificial preservatives and is naturally brewed.

“It is the most popular brand of soy sauce in Japan and the company is also the largest manufacturer of soy sauce in the world” by the South China Morning Post or SCMP for short (they also misspelled Noda and called it “Nodu”).
Photo Description: a bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce with the words "Naturally Brewed and Soy Sauce" on the label. Other text says "over 300 years of excellence."
The number 1 Japanese soy sauce.

Your Options: I will recommend a koikuchi (general purpose) soy sauce, 2-pack/10oz, and organic Kikkoman soy sauce, 25.40oz, $12.18, and a San-J tamari, 10oz, $7.99 (wheat free and gluten-free soy sauce) which is like a Chinese soy sauce in style. Except, ultimately, I am recommending you go big with a large jug/tin of soy sauce like every Japanese/Asian American household uses (plus it’s more than twice the amount for $3 less, you’re welcome).

Many types of soy based sauces can be produced by most home cooks, but this is one product that you can purchase in bottled form.

In a Japanese sushi bar, this product is produced from scratch ingredients.
Sorry, currently I have no links, it’s too expensive ($42-45 is a rip-off)
  • Your Options: you will have to search for it on your own because I won’t provide a link to any of the online options because it’s too expensive.

If you like those cool icons, you can find them at Sushi icons created by Freepik – Flaticon

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