Soba Tsuyu vs. Mentsuyu Broth: What is the Difference?
In the previous post, I mentioned that we often make the broth of Soba with a soup base called Mentsuyu (めんつゆ: Tsuyu meant for Men/麺 or noodles) or Soba Tsuyu (そばつゆ).
As you may know, the two types of liquid seasonings look the same with brown colors and their usage overlaps, but how exactly do they differ? Today, I researched that online.
Soba Tsuyu vs. Mentsuyu
As previously talked, Japanese home cooks typically water down a concentrated Mentsuyu broth, like Kikkoman’s Hon Tsuyu, for the soup of Soba.
The usage is not wrong, and we also use Mentsuyu for the broth of Udon and Somen, but for a dipping sauce of Zaru Soba, the use of Soba Tsuyu seems recommended, based on this article.
Characteristics of Soba Tsuyu
That is because, compared to Mentsuyu, Soba Tsuyu has a strong flavor, as the buckwheat noodles for Zaru Soba are usually dipped quickly in the sauce.
As with Mentsuyu, Soba Tsuyu is a type of Tsuyu. But as its name indicates, this one is primarily meant for Soba.
Generally, Soba Tsuyu contains more sugar/mirin than Mentsuyu and uses less dashi. Its taste is intense so as not to be inferior to the distinctive aroma of buckwheat noodles.
Characteristics of Mentsuyu
In contrast, Mentsuyu contains less sugar/mirin and uses more dashi. Unlike Soba Tsuyu, this seasoning liquid is versatile/multi-purpose and meant for various dishes, including pasta.
Taste-wise, the broth is light-tasting (yet rich in umami from bonito dashi stock) compared to Soba Tsytu, which is why you may feel a lack when using Mentsuyu for a dipping sauce of Zaru Soba.