The Difference: Okonomiyaki Sauce vs Tonkatsu Sauce
When it comes to Japanese brown sauce, in addition to Tonkatsu sauce, (Japanese-style) Worcestershire sauce, and Chuno sauce, Okonomiyaki sauce is commonly used in households in Japan.
As I wrote about how Tonkatsu sauce, Japanese Worcester sauce, and Chuno sauce differ in this article, they are actually similar in taste and can be used interchangeably to your preference.
Okonomiyaki Sauce vs Tonkatsu Sauce
However, Okonomiyaki sauce is somewhat different from Tonkatsu sauce, Japanese Worcester sauce, and Chuno sauce, even though they all look almost the same.
For example, when I compare Tonkatsu sauce and Okonomiyaki sauce, the primary differences between them are as follows.
As its name indicates, “Tonkatsu sauce (とんかつソース)” matches best with Japanese-style pork cutlet “Tonkatsu (豚カツ)“.
Meanwhile, “Okonomiyaki sauce (お好み焼きソース)”, also called “Okonomi sauce (お好みソース)”, is the brown sauce particularly meant for “Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)”.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake whose flour dough is mixed with various ingredients such as vegetables, pork belly slices, and seafood. As with Tonkatsu, Okonomiyaki is popular comfort food in Japan.
When Japanese people hear Okonomiyaki sauce, many will bring to mind “Otafuku (オタフク)“‘s Okonomi sauce, while the Tonkatsu sauce most familiar to us Japanese is “Bull-Dog (ブルドック)” Tonkatsu sauce.
As for the ingredient, the Bull-Dog Tonkatsu sauce consists of tomato, apple, prune, lemon, carrot, onion, brewed vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, salt, starch, yeast extract, soybean, and spices.
On the other hand, the Otafuku Okonomiyaki sauce is made with tomato, dates, onion, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, brewed vinegar, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, salt, alcohol, soy sauce, spices, oyster extract, meat extract, yeast extract, kombu seaweed, protein hydrolyzate, shiitake mushroom, processed starch, amino acid, and caramel pigment.
Taste-wise, in a word, Tonkatsu sauce is a thick, umami-rich version of Japanese Worcester sauce. It is somewhat sweet and characterized by its moderate spiciness.
Compared to the Bull-Dog Tonkatsu sauce, this Otafuku Okonomiyaki sauce is slightly thicker in consistency and sweeter in taste, and has almost no spicy taste.
In addition to the Tonkatsu pork cutlet, many Japanese people like to eat shredded cabbage with Tonkatsu sauce. The thick flavorful brown sauce is also commonly used as a seasoning in “Yakisoba (焼きそば)” noodles.
Okonomiyaki sauce pairs perfectly with Okonomiyaki pancake, but it can also be used as a seasoning for noodle dishes, such as Yakisoba and Yaki Udon, and goes well with “Takoyaki (たこ焼き)” octopus balls as well.
Additionally, some Japanese home cooks like to use Okonomiyaki sauce as a secret seasoning in curry, and some others use the brown sauce combining with other seasonings.