cgfan By: cgfan

Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame (湯浅 生一本黒豆) Shoyu

Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame (湯浅 生一本黒豆) Shoyu


There are many premium soy sauces out there in the well-stocked Japanese markets, and having slowly gone through various brands, this bottle, which I just recently picked up, is hands down the best I've tasted so far.


It has an incredible roundness of flavor and a subdued, naturally balanced sweetness from the black bean (i.e.: not a sweetness that stands out and makes it sweet, but a sweetness that balances out the other components). If this makes any sense to you then you will know what I mean when I say that it has a pronounced, but quiet, flavor.


It is not cheap, however. I forget how much it was, but a small 200 ml bottle was perhaps around $15 or so. But considering how little one will use, a little goes a long way when used properly.


A koikuchi, just the smallest touch on sashimi of this incredile elixir does wonders. It's a 100% black bean soy sauce, hand made and fermented for 2 years by a 5th generation maker.


I found it at my local Nijiya Market in San Diego. (Not the bottle pictured, though identical in labelling... This picture was found at Rakuten's website...)




Some time after purchasing the Yuasa Ki-Ippon, I started getting a very subtle curiosity whether or not this may have been, by chance, the featured "himitsu" (secret) ingredient used in the ramen showdown on the Dotch Ryori (Cooking) Show. I remember as I checked my archives of the show that it would have been all but impossible that such a featured product (the show features some of the most rare ingredients available in Japan) would have even made it to our shores in such an available way as to be off-the-shelf at Nijiya Market.


Well as I played the episode back I was thoroughly taken aback to find that indeed it was this very brand and batch of shoyu! As good as I thought this shoyu was, I didn't think that there was much of a chance that this would be the very product that was so prominantly featured. Indeed this was the same product! It also pleased me to know that after trying many, many "special" shoyus, this was the only one that I found worth fussing over.


So here's a rare chance to both sample a unique and special artisan-made product, as well as to see and hear the story, the person, and his methods behind this incredible bottle. The bittorrent for this show can be found at this link: . The show's in Japanese, but is fan-subbed in English.


Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame (湯浅 生一本黒豆) Shoyu

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

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  • olaf675 8y


    I was just wondering if Yuasa Ki-Ippon is the same brand as Yuasa Shoyu. I assume that Yuasa just refers to the city where it is made. I had read a few glowing reviews for their soy sauce, (bottom right)

    but balked at getting it domestically for around $33.

    Luckily, I have some friends in Japan and they brought me a smaller bottle late last year.

    One bottle of this --

    Here's the large bottle -

    Unfortunately, the subtleties were wasted on myself, though I guess it would be great with sushi. I hope to purchase some of the Kimlan I-Jen and Kimlan Super Special Naturally Fermented - as soon as I'm finished with the Dark and Light Pearl River Bridge soy sauces I'm using for cooking. Or are these Kimlan Noble soy sauces better suited to dipping?

    Do you have any favorite dark and light soy sauces that are easily obtainable?

    It's surprising the number of soy sauces that aren't well known - or readily available.

    Thanks for your post and any response.
  • cgfan 8y

    sgasbarre: Thank you for your post; I read it with much interest. I think I understand the situation, and to answer your question the bottle that you had was made by a different company.

    As mentioned in my post for quite a while I've been picking up various bottles of the premium Japanese soy sauces out there in order to try them out and to see if there were really any marked differences between them. So far they have all left me nonplussed, with the notable exception of the Ki-Ippon.

    My advice would be to let your own taste be your guide without regard to what you hear about any specific product or brand. After all that's how I came across the Ki-Ippon. It really was a random choice amongst many, but for me happened to be the only one that stood out.

    BTW in one of my past trials I did try the soy sauce that your friend brought back for you from Japan. As with most of the others I found it at my local Nijiya Market, and as with most of the others it didn't particularly standout for me.
  • olaf675 8y

    Thanks for your reply. I now notice that it is the same brand that is offered on this site (at exorbitant imported prices), instead of the other Yuasa brand.

    I had the chance to stop at a Japanese seafood grocer this past week, but didn't because I was too tired from traveling, though I may get back there next month. I may ask my friends if they could bring a bottle of the Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame the next time they visit the US, since it's only around $9 US.

    Though even if I were to get some, it probably would go like my taste test between the Yuasa "Ohara Hisakichi Shoyu" and the plain Japanese made Kikkoman. I ended up liking the saltier Kikkoman more! I forget which my sushi eating friends preferred. I don't think it really mattered to them. I'd like to try the Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame irregardless.

    I wish I had seen what kinds of Japanese soy sauce the Japanese grocer had, though they might not have carried any since none of the Asian groceries I've visited have had any artisan soy sauces.

    It is quite impressive to see how proudly some of these artisan soy sauces are presented.

    BTW, here is a link to watch the video you posted above, as no one appears to be seeding the torrent.

    After watching portions of that (and the movie 'Tampopo'), makes me want to eat some good ramen. :(

    I'm glad it's subtitled and (from what I've seen) that there's a segment on Yuasa shoyu!

    Thanks again.
  • cgfan 8y

    sgasbarre: Good luck with your continued search. Regarding the Ki-Ippon, the $9 bottle you mention is probably for the 200 ml size, which is the one I found at Nijiya. I believe it otherwise goes for around $30 in Japan in the standard 720 ml bottle. I can't recall how much I paid for it at Nijiya, but it was probably somewhere around $15-17...

    Not sure where you are but if you're lucky enough to have a Nijiya Market in your area, they have a very broad selection of the "artisan" soy sauces.

    After trying so many of these I now have a fair number of bottles crowding my refrigerator. I'll have to do a blind taste testing someday to put it all to a test... (BTW I almost exclusively use these bottles for use at home with sashimi. I'd use it for sushi as well, if only I could feel comfortable with bringing in my own sauce, which I'm far from even thinking of doing... And as hinted to above, I always keep my soy sauce refrigerated...)
  • olaf675 8y

    I hope to see your blind taste test.... The five bottles in my refrigerator need some new company.

    I just hope I don't miss it.

    Have you seen the Kodakara Hot Spring Salt used in the Salt Ramen at Nijiya Market? In the program, I thought they said 1000 yen (or around $9 US) per package. I don't believe it's available on any English speaking web page. Oh well, plenty of other options at various salt dealers.
  • cgfan 8y

    sgasbarre: I remember that salt well from the program... Nijiya, it's such an interesting market!, has a very wide selection of exotic salts too. The last one I tried that was very nice was called Yuki Shio (Snow Salt), that has the Guiness World Record of having the highest mineral content of any salt on the market.

    As such it does not have a predominant saltiness to it, but rather a very broad and minerally taste profile when tasted alone. So much so that in my last actual use of it I cut it with 2 parts kosher salt before using it to grill some
    Yakitori @ Home - Teba (手羽) & Gyu Tan (牛タン) by cgfan
    was incredible!

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