6+ Mentsuyu Substitutes You Need To Try

Mentsuyu is a multipurpose seasoning used as a soup base in Japanese noodle dishes. It is also referred to as Tsuyu stock. You can use it to replace soy sauce in stir fry recipes to add that umami flavor.

It’s a fish soup traditionally made with kombu (dried kelp),  bonito flakes, mirin, soy sauce, and sake. Other ingredients you’ll likely find in Mentsuyu are sugar, salt, and other preservatives.

If you make Japanese food often, you know that Mentsuyu is not always available. Some prefer to avoid the store-bought Mentsuyu because it’s too concentrated or contains MSG.

The good news is you can make substitutes for Mentsuyu at home. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Mirin, Soy Sauce, and Dashi Granules

Combining mirin with soy sauce and Dashi granules will give you a traditional Mentsuyu base. This is the closest substitute for Mentsuyu from the store. The result will be a slightly sweeter broth with lower alcohol content.

To make it, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 200 ml water
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp mirin
  • Dashi granules

Mix these ingredients together and warm them over the burner until the Dashi granules completely dissolve. Cool the sauce and store it in a sealed container.

2. Soy Sauce, Sugar, Salt, and Dashi Granules

Another great Mentsuyu substitute comprises soy sauce, sugar, salt, and Dashi granules. It’s an ideal recipe for anyone who doesn’t want alcohol in their sauce. And it will provide a more savory base where the saltiness and sweetness are well balanced.

Dashi granules are made from dried bonito fish and kombu kelp. That means this combination doesn’t deviate too much from the traditional Mentsuyu recipe. If you don’t have them, use Kombu tea made from dried kelp.

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 200ml water
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Dashi granules

Combine and warm these ingredients for a great Mentsuyu soup base. The sugar and salt will dissolve, giving the sauce a thick consistency. It should keep for up to a week if refrigerated.

3. Soy Sauce, Sake, Sugar, and Dashi Granules

You can also combine sake, sugar, soy sauce, and Dashi granules to make a substitute for Mentsuyu. Your Mentsuyu substitute base will be slightly thicker than a broth with a sugary flavor.

Some people substitute the Dashi granules in this recipe with chicken stock powder or Kombu tea. White wine also makes an excellent replacement if you don’t have sake available.

These are the ingredients you’ll need for this Mentsuyu substitute:

  • 200 ml water
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Dashi granules

Combine these ingredients and warm them for a few minutes to the desired consistency. Cool and refrigerate it in an airtight container.

5. Soy Sauce, Mirin, Sake, Kombu Kelp, and Katsuobushi Bonito Flakes

Instead of using Dashi granules, you can also use Katsuobushi Bonito flakes and Kombu kelp in your Mentsuyu substitute. These are the ingredients used to make Dashi. And they’ll leave you with a sweet and savory stock where the tastes of the sea are elevated.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup Katsuobushi Bonito flakes
  • 1 piece of Kombu kelp
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup sake

Combine everything in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Simmer it for 5 minutes and let it cool down. Strain the mixture and pour it into a sealed container. Remember to dilute it whenever you need to use it.

It’s best to dilute with hot water in hot noodle recipes such as hot udon noodle soup. You can also use cold water when having it with cold recipes like soba noodles.

6. Soy Sauce, Mirin, Sake, Kombu, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Perhaps you’d prefer a vegan Mentsuyu substitute. Using shiitake mushrooms and kombu to replace the fish-derived ingredients will provide the perfect replacement and a sweet, earthy flavor. 

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/3 cup Shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 piece of kombu

Combine these ingredients and boil them on medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 7 minutes to desired consistency. 

Strain to remove the shiitake mushrooms and kombu, and you’ll have an excellent Mentsuyu stock. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.


Mentsuyu sauce makes a delicious dipping sauce for tempura dishes and steamed fish. It is also added in rice bowls like donburi or stews and soups for a smoky, umami flavor. But be careful of the high sugar and sodium content in Mentsuyu when using soy sauce, sake, salt, or mirin.