Product Review

“On the Umami” Exemplifies a Product of Japan with Their Line of Pescatarian and Certified Vegan Broth Bases

We all get inundated with information and ads, so it is easy to overlook “On the Umami” (what is up with that name tho) and their pescatarian/vegan broth bases. So it took a focused and committed Saturday to get down to figuring out how this company compares to the competition (and how I liken things to pop culture, movies, dating apps, and cat videos, as usual).

Unless you are an avid cook, most consumers will overlook soup stocks because when you factor in the taste of most Americans’ preference for strong flavors over being nuanced and subtle (umami), it mirrors and matches pop culture, such as with Marvel movies. Marvel is the food equivalent of a Dragon roll slathered with two different sauces and eleven different ingredients, then dipped bathed in soy sauce. 

So the people who appreciate nuance all comes down to a tiny niche of consumers who would seek out On the Umami (I am also nicknaming them OtU) because they are the movie equivalent of DUNE (I love director Denis Villeneuve). They are the same type that cares about the characters, and if that is you, you are in the right place because I am diving into OtU and their backstory and product details.

There is only so much time in the day to watch cat videos, so the time we do have left, I had to seek out 1. what On the Umami specializes in and 2. why we should care. I did just that, along with comparing them to 10 other vegan broths/powders/bouillon because those cat videos are not going to watch themselves.

Photo Description: a certificate from 2019 awarded to On the Umami. Pictured is the package for their vegetable dashi which is a certified vegan broth base.
It’s official, unlike Dr. Nick’s questionable certificates in his office on the Simpsons.

The On the Umami Website is Under the Assumption We Want Their Product

The first thing OtU lists is “free shipping” and “top sellers,” except woah there, and what makes you think I am interested and ready to buy (just because I am on your website)? That is just silly because this Tinder veteran knows better to not demand and have conditions right off the bat, and you need to ease into it. Also, we do not know OtU, like we know Ajinomoto, a ginormous dashi company and industry leader. So, on behalf of OtU, I will break down their product line for the sake of us all.

On the Umami specializes in certified vegan broth bases and Japanese style fish stock from regional artisanal producers/growers in Japan.

Just like in the dating world, food producers can not expect people to flock to them. So let me put this out there (so that OtU knows where they stand), that getting a “right swipe” to a “buy now” requires a level of commitment that does not come easily, and they need to be aware that:

  • Most people want cheap and easy and quality is not of primary importance (just like on Tinder).
  • There are a ton of competitors from cheap instant versions to a range of domestic product offerings.

Who is Behind “On the Umami”?

The parent company behind OtU is Nexty, which is based out of Niigata, Japan, and they specialize in soy sauce soup bases, bonito dashi, and dried bonito shavings for dashi (which is Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points/HACCP certified).

What products does On the Umami specialize in?

Dashi is a Japanese word for soup stock and the easiest one is made from kelp although OtU offers:

  1. Awase Broth: Bonito (smoked skipjack tuna) and Rishiri kombu (kelp).
  2. Vegetable Vegan Broth: 4 types of vegetables (onions, cabbage, carrots, and ginger) grown in Awajishima and Hokkaido, Japan.
  3. Tomato Vegan Broth: this dashi is made from Soprano tomatoes (I’m picturing the late James Galdofini growing tomatoes) and herbs.
  4. Katsuobushi Broth: “Satori” dashi or hon-kare katsuobushi (smoked and fermented skipjack tuna) from Makurazaki, Kagoshima prefecture.

I do like that OtU states this: “This product draws on the natural umami flavors of its ingredients that have been brought out by scientific analysis as well as the skills and expertise of professionals developed over the course of many years without relying on the use of any chemical seasonings.”

– On the Umami, Niigata, Japan.
Photo Description: the interior showroom of On the Umami in Japan (Niigata). The light pastel colored (tan) showroom has a number of shelves neatly displaying their packets of dashi. In the middle, on a column is the logo "On the Umami."
They went light on the color palette for their showroom, but they go heavy on the umami for their products.

Why Should We Care About On the Umami?

  1. No chemical seasonings or preservatives added.
  2. Vegan broth, no animal-based ingredients used, and certified vegan.
  3. Regionally grown and sourced ingredients (Japan).

Over the last half-century, Japan has become known as the country for growing/producing the highest quality beef (wagyu), pork (kurobuta), to artisanal fruit that sell for upwards of a hundred dollars.

Photo Description: this is of the two fish based broths that On the Umami offers. The first is of their Katsuobushi and aware dashi (Katsuobushi and Kombu/sea kelp broth).
For you pescatarians who love to get a sea creature and some kelp in their diet (I have an extensive blog post on katsuobushi here).
PRODUCTPRICE
On the Umami, Dried bonito and kombu (Rishiri) kelp, 10g/x8$5.90 with free shipping worldwide
On the Umami, Satori dashi (hon-kare katsuobushi from the Kagoshima prefecture), 10g/x5$5.90 with free shipping worldwide
You can also use the packets as a seasoning for foods/dishes.

Now, What Is It Going to Cost You and How Does it Compare to the Competition (Instant Vegetable Broth)

We do not live in a bubble, and like all things, we have to make comparisons (like how your current significant other compares to your ex), so I will compare OtU to what Muuuuuurica, Japan, and the world has to offer.

Photo Description: the On the Umami pouches with the white labeling and illustrations to depict the vegetable dashi in green with carrot, ginger, cabbage and  onions. The other is their tomato dashi with an illustration of a red tomato.
The Italians also know a thing or two about umami (savory) and glutamates from tomatoes to parmesan cheese.
  • Stock: is made from bones (typically a base).
  • Broth: made from stock, meat, and vegetables.
  • Vegetable (Vegan) broth: made from vegetables.
  • Bouillon: a broth made by stewing meat, fish, vegetables in water, and they come in dehydrated form of either a cube or powder.
PRODUCTPRICE
On the Umami, Vegetable Broth, 7g/x5$5.90 with free shipping worldwide
On the Umami, Tomato Both, 10g/5 $5.90 with free shipping worldwide
VegeProject.org is the organization behind the “Certified Vegan” initiative.
Photo Description: an illustration of a tongue? that is also incorporated in to the On the Umami logo depicts the range of umami from sour, depth, sweet, after taste, to richness and sharpness.
Yea, that’s supposed to be a tongue (right side up, I thought it looked like a surprised Pac-Man ghost).

Instant Vegan Broth/Bouillon Price Comparison

BRANDPRODUCT DESCRIPTIONPRICE
KayanoyaOriginal Vegetable Stock Powder: Dried Onion, Salt, Yeast Extract, Onion Extract Powder, Maltodextrin, Celery Extract Powder, Dried Garlic, Dried Carrot, Cabbage Extract Powder, Garlic Powder.8g/x24
$28.50
(.15 per/g)
KnorrBouillon Cubes Vegetable: Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Palm Oil, Corn Starch, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Sugar, Xanthan Gum, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavor, Water, Turmeric (color), Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Maltodextrin, Dehydrated Parsley, Spices, Caramel Color, Tbhq (used To Protect Quality).71g
$1.79
(.025 per/g)
Morga
(Arora
Creations)
Organic Vegetable Bouillon Powder: Sea Salt, Maltodextrin*, Yeast Extract*, Soy Sauce*, Leek*, Parsley*, Celery*, Fenugreek*, Lovage*, Carrots*, Parsnip*, Turmeric*, Onions*, *All agricultural ingredients are from organic cultivation. Dehydrated vegetables: 6,4%.150g
$9.99
(.066 per/g)
Mother Earth
Products
Dried Vegetable Soup Mix: Carrots, Onion, Tomatoes, Peas, Celery, Green Bell Pepper, Green Beans, and Parsley.283g
$12.95
(.045 per/g)
Muso
Muso Umami Broth Vegan Dashi: OIigosaccharide (Made from Tapioca And/Or Sweet Potato), Sea Salt, Yeast Extract (Yeast, Dextrin, Salt), Shiitake Mushroom Powder, Kombu Seaweed Powder. (Product of Japan) 40g/x2
$7.98
(.10 per/g)
On the
Umami
4 Types of Vegetables ( Broth): Onions, Salt, Yeast Extract, Starch Hydrolysate, Cabbage, Carrots, Ginger, Glucose.10g/x5, $5.90
(.12 per/g)
OrganikaVeggie Broth: Nutritional yeast, organic vegetable powder blend (kale, carrot, tomato, broccoli, garlic), organic acacia gum, organic tremella mushroom powder, turmeric root powder, black pepper powder.300g/
$30.39
(.10 per/g)
Public
Goods
Vegetable Broth Concentrate: Carrot stock, water, hydrolyzed pea protein, maltodextrin, tomato paste, sea salt, onion stock, canola oil, brown rice protein, celery stock, vegetable flavor (contains carrot, onion, celery), kale powder, broccoli powder, spinach powder, natural flavors, garlic powder, rosemary extract, spice. Made in Ohio.340g/
$11.95
(.035 per/g)
Recipe
Ready
Organic Vegetable Broth: Carrot Powder, Tomato Powder, Onion Granules, Garlic Granulated, Celery Seed Powder, Arrowroot Powder, Parsley Leaf Powder, Basil Leaf Powder, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, Ginger Root Powder, Pepper Black Powder. 10.5g/x10, $14.99
(.14 per/g)
SeitenbacherVegetable Broth and Seasoning: Nutritional yeast extract (yeast, salt), carrots, onions, turmeric root, parsley, leek, nutmeg, garlic, lovage, celery, pepper, balm, dill, paprika, rosemary, mustard.142g
$14.95
(.10 per/g)

I have to also include the tomato broth ingredients: “Tomato powder, Onions, Salt, Sugar, Tomatoes, Starch hydrolysate, Yeast extract, Basil, Oregano.”

Photo Description: the On the Umami packaging "pouch" with the white label with a rustic looking design and illustrations of vegetables and the certified vegan designation on the packaging. In a small white saucer is the powder dashi which is yellowish in color with orange bits.
Why do they show 2 packets when there are 10g/x5 in each pouch?

Where to Buy On the Umami Pescatarian and Vegan Dashi/Broth

I think by now, On the Umami can no longer be considered a side character, but as the main protagonist worthy of your pantry and an upcoming dinner (and your attention).

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