32 In Sauce & Dressing/ Video

Mentsuyu (multipurpose sauce) Recipe

Mentsuyu (noodle sauce) is a very versatile sauce that gives many dishes a great Japanese flavor.  This is perfect for dipping cold Soba or Somen noodles, tempura and more. It is so easy to make and keeps well in the refrigerator (at least a couple weeks, stays for a month in my fridge), and comes in handy in a crunch time for dinner.   I actually make a lot of  it at once so that I don’t have to make it frequently (oh, lazy me).  You can cook meat and vegetables with this sauce as seasoning, like a quick teriyaki sauce, or just drizzle over steamed vegetables or tofu.

You could buy noodle sauce or tempura sauce in a bottle at many supermarkets in the US, but this is easy enough to make at home and has no MSG or other chemicals in it.

This is a condensed form of sauce, so dilute with water before using.  One part this sauce and two parts water is good as dipping sauce, but adjust to whatever strength you like.

Multipurpose sauce (for noodles and tempura)

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

Multipurpose sauce (for noodles and tempura)



  1. Put all the ingredients in a pot.
  2. Let it boil and remove from heat. Cool completely in the pot.
  3. Strain bonito flakes.

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  • Lisa
    August 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

    How long do you boil it? 20 minutes?

    • Yuko
      August 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Hi Lisa, you don’t need to boil for long at all. In fact, as soon as it reaches to a boiling point, you can turn off the heat, cover, and let it sit until it cools off. You don’t even need to stir.

  • lisa
    November 4, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Hello Yuko,
    i’m a muslim,so i can’t put mirin or sake in my cooking as it contain alcohol. Could you tell me, what can i subtitute both mirin and sake with?
    It will be so great if you could tell me.
    Thank you Yuko (⌒‐⌒)

    • Noriko
      November 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      it is hard to substitute Mirin and Sake… but if you can’t use them, just omit them. You may add some sugar to compensate the sweetness of Mirin.

    • Moruno
      April 22, 2014 at 5:02 am

      Lisa, you can boil it some more until you no longer can smell alcohol. Allah surely won’t mind if it won’t have any alcohol anymore, but if alcohol was just used in the process of cooking.

    • Meghan
      August 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      I once heard that you can substitute sugar for murin. But I don’t know how much. Google should be able to tell you

    • Emily
      August 22, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Hello! I was just looking in the store and saw alcohol free mirin

  • Morice
    January 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Can I leave out the sake?

    • Noriko
      February 1, 2014 at 11:50 am

      you could, but doesn’t taste the same.

  • Frank
    February 6, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I am eating vegetarian, what is the substitute for bonito flakes? thank you

    • Noriko
      February 10, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Use Kombu dried kelp, and you’re good.

      • Moruno
        April 22, 2014 at 5:18 am

        Nota Bene: Konbu without soy or any other proteins will pose danger to the stomach, which will literally start to digest itself. Use konbu with caution.

    • Alan
      March 2, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Frank,

      I’m vegetarian too. I found granulated shiitake mushroom broth at my Asian store. I used about 1/2 tsp and the sauce came out great! The shiitake has a deep umami flavour that is almost smoky. Great substitute for bonito flakes, I highly recommend it.

  • Natalie
    February 24, 2014 at 5:32 am

    Hey, I really love the Japanese food, but unfortunately I don’t always have time to make all the recipes. Are there some recipes or dishes on your site I can use to freeze them in and take out when I want to eat?

    • Noriko
      February 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Beef or Pork Shigureni is a great make-ahead dish.

  • Jodibabe
    May 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve made this twice since last week!! It’s delicious w soba or drizzled on steak w green onions! Tonight I’m going to cook scallops w it ^___^

    • Noriko
      May 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      glad you liked it!

  • Stephanie Kho
    July 8, 2014 at 3:24 am

    In all the recipes, when it says soy sauce does it refer to Kikoman or light soy sauce?

    • Noriko
      September 13, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      we use regular (not light) soy sauce.

  • Scott
    August 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    How long will this sauce stay good in the refrigerator? Thanks!

    • Noriko
      September 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      two weeks or so.

  • lalita
    September 16, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Is Bonito a kosher fish?

    • jules rosen
      January 31, 2016 at 6:36 am

      Yes it is. Fins etc. Make it so

  • nui
    September 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for the great site! Just made the sauce as I couldn’t remember the recipe. It was just what I wanted.

    • Noriko
      September 29, 2014 at 8:06 am

      glad you liked our Mentsuyu recipe!

  • HweeLi
    January 12, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Can I substitute chinese cooking wine (hua tiao wine) for sake?

    • Yuko
      January 17, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      We have not used hua tiao wine before for this recipe, but it may come out OK.

  • Steve
    January 25, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Hi, I recently bought some organic soba noodles and I wanted to use a traditional dipping sauce. When I googled it, I came across your recipe and checked it out. I just made my first batch of Mentsuyu and I can’t wait to try it out.
    Although I am going to use it as a cold dipping sauce, I also read somewhere that it can be used as a hot soup base, maybe for Udon noodles.
    My question is, how can I use it hot and for what noodles would it be good with?


  • Grge
    April 3, 2016 at 9:38 am

    May I use fish sauce instead of Bonito flakes ?

    • Noriko
      April 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      sorry, but no fish sauce. That has a very different flavor.

  • Walter Bryan
    April 4, 2016 at 10:39 am

    I just order some yakisoba disk from a Japanese restaurant yesterday and the sauce was amazing. I was wondering what type of sauce it was. I open a future cookie from someone elses order and it said that I receive good news in the mail. 😊 when I turned on my computer today there was this Web site showing me how to make my own Mentsuyu sauce. 😄☺😊😀😁. The universe it an amazing and wonderful place. Thanks to Ms. Noriko

  • H
    September 23, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Hi ,

    I’m a vegetarian . So , I can substitute Wakame seaweed for bonito flakes .

    I Would use kombu but it is not found and I try online but its not .