Japanese BBQ Sauce like at DOJO.
January 20, 2008 5:22 AM   Subscribe

How can I make or buy "Japanese BBQ sauce" like they serve on the breakfast special at Dojo in NYC?

The special is listed as "Scrambled Eggs over Brown Rice w/ Japanese BBQ Sauce." It's delicious, and only $3.25, but since I live in Texas these days I am forced to do without, or provide my own.

The sauce is sort of thin and gelatinous (roughly the consistency of Kraft Catalina salad dressing, if you will forgive me for bringing that stuff up) and caramel in color. It's a bit sticky and sweet, but not syrupy sweet.

Google reveals a zillion different recipes for Japanese BBQ sauce but they all look like, well, BBQ sauce. They are mostly tomato based. This stuff is pretty clearly not tomato based and is, to my tastes, BBQ'y in name only.

Anyone here know what I am looking for?
posted by dirtdirt to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Haven't been to this restaurant, and I know you said "not tomato," but your description and the tastiness of pairing it with eggy things makes it sound like an okonomiyaki sauce or tonkatsu sauce. A lotta Worcestershire and soy sauce can obscure tomato pretty well. Try out these recipes (okonomiyaki sauce, tonkatsu sauce), or at least take those names to your local Asian market.

(PS: For your shopping needs, you may need this: お好み焼き is okonomiyaki; とんかつ is tonkatsu.)
posted by whatzit at 6:01 AM on January 20, 2008

I think what you're looking for may be hoisin sauce. Here's a recipe:

4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter or black bean paste
1 tablespoon honey or molasses or brown sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
20 drops chinese hot sauce, habenero or jalepeno
1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
posted by dagnyduquette at 6:10 AM on January 20, 2008

I would suspect it's a type of tonkatsu sauce. What dirtdirt described is roughly similar to duck sauce, but without tomato. The soy sauce could've been mixed with some sesame oil for something similar to terriaki sauce, but too much roasted sesame essence can overwhelm any "sweet, but not syrupy sweet" taste. Most likely, it was a soy, apricot and applesauce combo, with maybe the faintest hint of orange or lemon zest with ginger.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:17 AM on January 20, 2008

["I meant "rather than sauce made from tomato." Not that people would generally use it as an ingredient for duck sauce.]
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:20 AM on January 20, 2008

What you describe is almost certainly Tonkatsu sauce. It ruffles my Japanese feathers a bit to see it referred to as "Japanese BBQ Sauce", but I suppose if you had to make an American parallel to this very unique sauce, that would be the closest you can get.

One of my favorite Hawaii-centric food blogs, The Tasty Island, just did a great photo-blog on the topic of Tonkatsu sauce last week.
posted by melorama at 6:41 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it is tonkatsu sauce (which sounds about right), Kikkoman makes a decent version that is sometimes sold in supermarkets in the "Asian food" section. However, given that you're in Texas, your local supermarkets might not carry it. You might be able to have them special order it. Otherwise, you can make it yourself using one of the linked recipes or buy a bottle off the internet.
posted by I Said, I've Got A Big Stick at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2008

Excellent answers! I will definitely take a look at tonkatsu. I should have mentioned in my question that I have several large and well stocked Asian supermarkets within a mile or so of me, so pretty much anything of that nature that is available in the general united states is available to me. I just need to know what to look/ask for.

The Tonkatsu shown in melorama's link looks close, but is maybe a bit opaque. The stuff at Dojo, as I recall, is a bit more transparent. Duck Sauce, in my experience, has a bit of a grain to it that is absent from the sauce at Dojo.

I'm going to try Tonkatsu and report back!

I'm surprised that no one who has eaten the breakfast special at Dojo has any illuminating details to offer.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:31 AM on January 20, 2008

Yup, Tonkatsu sauce or a related sauce with different viscosity. Those Bull-Dog sauces are the easiest to find in Asian grocery stores around here (Boston area).
posted by rxrfrx at 11:47 AM on January 20, 2008

What you are looking for is probably "Bulldog" sauce - it's like quite like HP sauce (the brown one) if you are a Brit you may be able to find that in the US. If you can't find a source in the US, mail me and I can send you some (I live in Japan).
posted by AndyM825 at 4:38 PM on January 20, 2008

If I can just suggest two other alternatives - yakitori (やきとり or 焼き鳥) sauce, which would very much be properly listed as a BBQ sauce, as would unagi (うなぎ) sauce. They are similar, so I couldn't say for sure which might be what you are looking for, maybe try each one? These are more translucent than tonkatsu or okonomiyaki sauce.

Good luck, and good eating...
posted by birdsquared at 6:10 PM on January 20, 2008

or the not quite at all self-link, go to www.thejapanesepage.com, pick an appropriate discussion form and ask and say "zengargoyle sent you there" and you'll be all good.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:36 AM on January 22, 2008

posted by zengargoyle at 2:37 AM on January 22, 2008

Well, Tonkatsu is very close. It might even be exact, but the version of Tonkatsu that I had is not precisely the version they serve at Dojo. Without talking to someone with a better knowledge of both Dojo and Tonkatsu I fear my quest is at a dead end. Next time I am in New York I'm going to ask someone at the source, by gum!


Zengargoyle: It's easier to get the vibe if you read the question. How is a long list of things like...
Prison_Loaf.txt dango.txt puppychow.txt
...in any way germane to, well, anything?

I appreciate your attempt to answer my question, and that this is a subject that you have a general knowledge of, I guess, but your answer is just bewildering noise.

posted by dirtdirt at 9:50 AM on January 23, 2008

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