Eat your sushi with more style: dip into the world of ‘stand out’ soy sauce plates

Soy sauce – or ‘shoyu’ (醤油), as we call it – adds that something extra to Japanese foods like ramen and sushi. We’ve also heard of people adding it to their grilled cheese sandwiches, sliced fruits, and even vanilla ice cream… but we play it safe.

The etiquette around putting soy sauce on your food’s kinda strict. Let’s take sushi as an example. Don’t use too much sauce! – it’ll overpower the other flavours. And if any sauce gets on the sushi rice, even a drop, you may as well put down your chopsticks and leave the country.

(Let’s not talk about how hard it can be to learn how to use chopsticks in the first place…)

For such a difficult task, a sauce plate for dipping makes the ideal sidekick. Yeah, Japan has a plate for everything. Remember that post we made about mamezara?

If you only want a plate, and don’t really care how it looks next to the cutlery, your choices are almost endless. But if the tableware aesthetic’s a key part of your dining entertainment, get one of the stylish and/or fun ‘gradient’ design soy sauce plates.

Enjoy more depth with dinner

What separates these plates from other. normal soy sauce plates is in the item name. Look for ‘ukideru’ (浮き出る), meaning ‘to stand out (against a background)’ or ‘to rise to the surface’.

The idea with these clever soy sauce dish designs is that they end up looking like… something… after you’ve poured the sauce in. You can kinda see how it’s gonna look when the plate’s empty, but you don’t get the full effect without the liquid.

It’s always something recognisable, like flowers, or cats, or dogs. (Nothing that’s gonna put you off your food, no worries about that.) Animal-themed soy sauce plates are always popular: you can also get sets themed on sea life, pandas (an inspired one!), and owls.

Most of these dishes are white, a blank canvas for the sauce art. You’ll see other colours as well, like pastel pink and blue – the effect’s pretty similar. The depth of the dish varies to create the design. (Make sure you dip your food in the deeper bits to get enough sauce.)

That darkness in the soy really brings out details, and completes the 3D effect. Where it’s a thinner, lighter brown, the designs start looking kinda old-school sepia.

And sure, they’re called ‘soy sauce plates’, but when they’re made well the effect works with other liquids and colours too. Vinegar, chili oil or sweet chili sauce, salsa, aioli, whatever you like.

Add some art when you eat

To increase that ‘authentic, traditional Japanese’ feeling of your food (no matter what you’re eating), kabuki plates and Mt. Fuji plates are popular options. Maybe you can get your lunch blessed by the Seven Lucky Gods, or have dinner with a daruma.

For the casual sushi-eating otaku, the Super Mario set and Kirby set of plates are out there to collect. Disney’s gotten in on the act more than once with Toy Story and Mickey/Minnie designs, and the Gundam Cafe also put out some limited-edition versions.

Wanna buy from Japan? We’ve got a lot to shoyu

Pick up fun and interesting soy sauce plates on the DEJAPAN website. They make great ‘made in Japan’ gifts. Don’t forget to buy some soy sauce to go with them!

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