We all have a preference when it comes to brands.
Some of us prefer Coke over Pepsi, Macs over PCs, Hondas over Toyotas.
But the debate has never been more heated — at least in some circles — as the one between two brands of shoyu: Kikkoman and Aloha.
People have really taken sides. Some prefer the Japan-based Kikkoman, which is salty and tangy. Others are committed to the local Aloha shoyu, which is sweet and mild.
And it makes a difference on how the shoyu is most often used. For example, some pick Kikkoman to cook with because they want a stronger flavor. Others use Aloha only when pouring onto something to eat immediately.
And then there are those who choose their brands based on principle. Aloha is a locally owned and operated company. Kikkoman is from Japan.
So I thought it would be interesting to see your picks.
So which is it: Kikkoman or Aloha?
Have you checked out a book called Izakaya Hawaii: Tokkuri Tei Cooking? It does a great job in explaining the different sauces and what their differences & purposes are. It was a such great read for me. It was so informative that I was able to discuss it with my dietitian to the point where she allows me to use the sauce even though I am diabetic.
Thanks for reminding me. I gotta get that book. I looked through it at Barnes & Noble and thought it was interesting. But I may have missed that shoyu part!
Aloha Shoyu, especially on rice!
I didn’t know there was such a debate about it. I buy Kikkoman for the convenient dispenser, but purchase either one for the refill jars. Whatever’s cheapest is fine by me.
Ah, good point!
But both have the same dispenser *???*
I used to prefer Aloha shoyu even though I’m second generation Japanese, but now I use liquid amino because I’m more health conscious. ^__^
Liquid amino??? Interesting! I gotta check that out! Thanks for sharing, Shay!
Most popular brand for liquid amino is Bragg Liquid Amino –> https://www.bragg.com/products/la.html
It depends on what you are cooking but overall I like Aloha Shoyu better. It is a taste thing for me. I think Aloha is lighter and has a better fermented taste.
Can you get Aloha up there?
Yes. Usually find it in the Asian section somewhere. Used to buy it at a co-op in Chapel Hill. In Raleigh you can find it in a few places. I didn’t mention this but I think it is way less salty than Kikkoman. Even the low salt Kikkoman is too salty.
David where did you find it in Raleigh?? I’ve been searching shelves for years ????
Also, you can buy it online.
Hello Cat, we use Aloha Shoyu.
Isn’t “Kikkoman’s” used so much more that it’s almost a generic term for shoyu or soy sauce? I think that pretty much says it all…
Aloha is da best! Kikkoman only at sushi bars.
Kikkoman, because my friend in the 70’s used to combine Kikaida & Kaman Rider into a Ki-koman-Rida parody. Sorry about that, but it was sooo funny!
LOL! Funny stuff!
Kikkoman regularly, but Yamasa is up there on my list as well!!
Ah, Yamasa. That’s good stuff, too. But the debate always seems to be around Kikkoman and Aloha. But you’re right, Yamasa should be in the mix.
My friend who is a chef uses Kikoman for cooking.
I wonder what chefs use…….. Good point….!
Aloha for marinade and cooking (not as strong). But Kikoman or Yamasa for the table, especially with wasabi for sashimi/sushi.
Nothing reminds me of small kid time more than Aloha shoyu with half-ripe (yellow, not green) mango. Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot I use shoyu with (except, of course, shoyu chicken) so when we do buy it, it’s Aloha.
oOooooooOo, shoyu and mango 🙂
The fast food place where I worked in high school used both Aloha and Yamasa, in specified quantities, in its teriyaki recipe. One time a newbie used all of one kind, and could taste the difference.
I use Aloha to support the local business, and because it tastes good.
I used to love Aloha while growing up in the islands. I moved to SF for just about 8 years during which time I fell in love with Kikkoman because, well, there wasn’t anything else.
On return trips home to Hawaii, Aloha would taste weird so I stuck with Kikkoman. But like Shay, I switched to Bragg’s liquid amino’s to lower my salt intake although when we eat out I have no choice …
Wow, I gotta do a blog about liquid amino!
In the days when I used to be able to use shoyu, I preferred Yamasa. Nowadays, since I’ve developed a wheat allergy, I use tamari (really similar to shoyu, but made w/o wheat). I also like the Bragg’s amino acid mix, esp. in the spray bottle, which makes it easier to control quantities.
My dad had a wheat allergy, too, so we were using tamari. I actually like the taste of that. Stronger but not bitter.
Prefer Kikkoman over Aloha. I like it’s taste better. Years ago I used Diamond. 🙁 Too bad it’s not available anymore.
Diamond Shoyu! I don’t think I’ve ever had that!
Our family preference is Aloha, but it’s not as readily available (or cheap) here in San Francisco like Kikkoman is. Funny our Costco must have been trying something out b/c they were carrying some of the Aloha marinades, not anymore. So Kikkoman here on the mainland and Aloha back in the 808. I like the flavor of Aloha better, like you said it’s milder and sweeter.
CAT: Isnt Kikkoman made in Wisconsin?
Here in California, Kikkoman is imported from Wisconsin. I wonder how that compares to Kikkoman from Japan? Which version does Hawaii have?
Kikkoman does its West Coast manufacturing in Folsom, California. It’s not a guarantee that it was made there, but they do have a second plant on the West Coast.
kikkoman or yamasa are the only ones i use. aloha tastes like water to me. of course, i’m a salt monster so my taste buds are all whack. i actually have a gallon container of kikkoman in my work cubby. i’m powered by shoyu!
We use Kikkoman for cooking and Yamasa for dipping at the restaurants, but I use Aloha at home. When I cater and I do the ordering, we use Aloha at the tables. Most people don’t notice, but I do get a few people that will mention that they like the soy sauce.
The one to try is Kikkoman Gold which I found to be really smooth, almost silky. It’s made for the Emperor of Japan and leftovers are bottled, not sure if it’s sold to the public or not.
Indeed! Goyogura Shoyu, the Emperor’s Soy Sauce!
Kikkoman hands down! I feel like I’m just pouring brown water over things if I use Aloha. Like some others have mentioned, though, it’s okay to use Yamasa.
My wife on the other hand is a total Aloha die-hard. She refuses anything else (which is okay since most restaurants around here have Aloha) and has been known to carry her own Aloha packets when we go out.
While it wasn’t a sticking point when we got married, we do have our own shoyu dispensers at home. Hers has Aloha and mine has either Kikkoman or Yamasa. It’s one of the small things that keep us happy and arguing about which shoyu is better.
Aloha Shoyu, all the way! The taste doesn’t overpower the food, but enhances flavor!
I spent the summer of 2008 working at a church on Kauai and learned how awesome Aloha Shoyu was… imagine my delight when I just now discovered that it’s available from Amazon.com (with Prime!)
Can’t wait to order some in and once again have rice the way it was meant to be eaten 😉
WOW! Great to know! Glad you can get your Aloha Shoyu fix!
Small kid time we use Club Shoyu from the Big Island, onolicious when mixed with rice vinegar, granulated white sugar and sometimes with black pepper pour it over the semi-ripe Shibata sliced mangos. Ho, broke da mouth!!!
Still though at times I see Kikkoman or Aloha in the refrigerator whatever Mom could get on sale.
Hello Cat, we have never been to the islands and live in Indiana where Aloha is something people say on TV. But, our house orders 3 gallon Ahola Shoyu annually. When we catered we order 8 gallons annually. For the past 15 years we ONLY use Aloha and when people ask why, we give them a taste!
Yep, there’s a difference! 🙂
I like them both for various reasons … however, the key words I personally look for on the bottle are “brewed”, “fermented” or “traditionally brewed.” That and a quick look at the ingredients list will tell you what you’re getting. The fewer ingredients, the better. Avoid chemicals or preservatives as much as possible and go for the labels that contain very basic ingredients; soy beans, wheat or rice, water and salt. Anything more than the basic 4 ingredients the sauce is probably partially chemically (unnatural/inductrial) processed. Beyond that, it’s up to your individual palate.
Hello Cat, my wife and I catered for nearly 30 years in Indiana. About 10 years in, we learned about Aloha Shoyu from someone who had lived on the Big Island. It changed out menu! Grilled Terriyaki Chicken and as close as we can get it (without having had any) Huli Huli Chicken was on the menu for the next 20 years…nearly every weekend! While we no longer order our Shoyu 4 gallons at a time (twice a year), it is still the ONLY shoyu we have in our pantry. Looking forward to a visit to the island someday, until then, we will continue to sip iour shoyu straight from a shot glass and marinate our deer steaks in shoyu for the grill!