So far, soy good: Skip the Kikkoman if you want to taste authentic Thai

Danielle Lirette
True Thai, like that at Thai Monkey Club, skips the Kikkoman.
If you've ever tried to cook Thai food at home and were disappointed, I'll bet I know why: You were using the wrong sauce. When the recipe called for soy sauce, you probably grabbed the bottle of Kikkoman sitting in your fridge. "You'd never use Kikkoman in Thai food, but people do, unfortunately," says Michael Long, culinary team leader and instructor at Seasoned Chef Cooking School. "It's the Heinz ketchup of soy sauce."

One authoritative cookbook I have, The Ultimate Thai and Asian Cookbook, goes so far as to say that Kikkoman should only be used as a dipping sauce, not for cooking.

So what do Thai chefs use instead?

See also:
A closer look at Thai Monkey Club

Sirishom Hakamjarn, co-owner of Thai Monkey Club, which I review this week, uses several kinds of soy sauce, mixing them in different proportions to achieve lighter, richer or sweeter flavors.

Light soy sauce is weak in flavor and has a light brown color. Dark soy, which is made from soybeans that have been left to ferment longer, has a much fuller, more robust flavor. There's also an Indonesian soy sauce called kecap manis, which is thick, black and sweet, and a lighter, weaker version called kecap asin, which is nicknamed white soy.

When you consider that few people have these sauces at their disposal, much less the oyster and fish sauces that are just as foundational to Thai cooking, you begin to see why take-out from Thai Monkey Club is such a good idea.

Location Info



Thai Monkey Club

4122 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help

Kikkoman is not low quality soy sauce, it's not the best in the world but it's not low quality. It's more of a Japanese style which is different than the Chinese style used in Thai cooking. In Thailand restaurants will often use a mushroom soy sauce or a sweetened soy sauce. 

To say it should only used for dipping sauces is an affirmation of quality. When you are cooking with olive oil do you use the $25 a liter olive oil or the cheap stuff? You save the high quality first press olive oil for dipping so you can get the pure uncooked flavor.


One metro area restaurant that uses a unique soy sauce (he either makes or blends his own) is Sushi Yoshi in Superior. Tiny, never crowded, and excellent. 

TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

A goiod place to buy both kecap manis and kecap asin is Pacific Mercantile in Sakura Square, who sell huge bottles of both under the ABC brand name which, to me, is one of the better varieties.


@WillieStortz Exactly what I was thinking. There's nothing wrong with Kikkoman. It just isn't the style used in Thai cuisine. You probably wouldn't want to dip your sushi in most of the soy sauces used in Thailand.

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