Dashi vs Hondashi vs Dashi No Moto: Uses for Soup and Beyond

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 22, 2021

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If you love Japanese soups and enjoy cooking, it’s likely that you’ve experimented with dashi. But now that you’re in the know about this umami enhancer, what’s up with these different kinds of dashi, like Hondashi, and dashi no moto?!?

You’ve probably landed here because you were wondering the exact thing! So let’s explore these three varieties of soup stock so you can determine which one works best for your culinary needs.

Dashi vs Hondashi vs Dashi No Moto

Dashi, hondashi, and dashi no moto are all soup bases that give food a similar umami taste, but they aren’t exactly alike. Basically, dashi is fresh self-made dashi and the others are premade soup stocks; Hondashi is a branded instant dashi product name.

Wow, who knew? Let’s look at that in more detail, shall we?

What is dashi?

In case you don’t yet exactly know or you kinda heard it a while back, you can describe dashi as a soup base that adds “umami” to a lot of dishes in Japanese cuisine. Like any other base, it can’t be used on its own but rather, it’s the main ingredient to build your broth from.

Dashi is commonly used for miso soup but it can also be found in clear broth and noodle broth soups, like my favorite, ramen noodles.

I’ve also got this article on my favorite ramen toppings

It’s also used in cooking grilled food and is often mixed into a flour base to prepare Japanese dishes such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.

Dashi is typically produced using dried seaweed (kombu, not wakame), some dried bonito flakes (called katsuobushi), and/ or dried sardines (niboshi). However, there’s also a liquid form made from kombu seaweed and a light-colored soy sauce.

This bonito fish soup stock is known for giving dishes a deep umami taste.

What is Hondashi?

Hondashi is not as well known as dashi, largely because it isn’t widely available outside of Asia. But it’s the name of a product that the Ajinomoto brand produces and it’s actually ready-made powdered dashi.

This is Ajinomoto hondashi

It can be used interchangeably with dashi and is often used as a base for miso soup and tempura batter.

This particular product is made with dried bonito powder, some seaweed flavoring, and a few additional flavors. Different types of katsuobushi flakes can be added to enhance its flavor and fragrance.

This dashi variety has the signature umami taste but it has a smokey and slightly sweet undertone that sets it apart.

You can buy Hondashi here to give it a try

What is dashi no moto?

Dashi no moto is a dried bonito fish soup stock that’s easy to cook with. It’s basically also an instant version of dashi.

While Hondashi refers to the specific instant dashi product “Hondashi”, dashi no moto refers to all instant dashi, where “no moto” means “of base”, so “dashi soup base”.

It makes cooking with dashi a lot easier and quicker, and it can work in a wide variety of dishes.

It’s easy to dissolve in water and it has the natural, rich umami flavor of dried bonito.

Dashi vs. Hondashi vs. dashi no moto: Recipes

Dashi, dashi no moto, and Hondashi can be substituted for one another. But here are some suitable dishes for each one!

Dashi recipes

Hondashi recipes

Big miso soup fan? Be sure to read How Often Can I Eat Miso Soup? This is what the experts say.

Dashi no moto recipes

But of course, you can use all of these with each type, although making dishes with fresh homemade dashi is always best :)

Dashi vs. Hondashi vs. dashi no moto: nutrition

When comparing these 3 soup stock ingredients, dashi no moto may be the easiest and most versatile to use in the kitchen, but it loses out when it comes to nutrition.

Homemade dashi is made with all-natural ingredients. Dashi no moto, on the other hand, is processed.

It may also contain MSG, which many claim isn’t good for your health. People say it’s been linked to cancer, headaches, and other health issues. However, this has never been scientifically proven.

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Favorite Asian Recipes

It should also be noted that any dashi that isn’t advertised as dashi no moto but is sold in powdered form is in fact a processed food product and should be called dashi no moto.

Dashi vs. Hondashi vs. dashi no moto: prep time

Although it may seem like a pain to make dashi as opposed to buying dashi no moto or another type of dashi in its powdered form, it isn’t that difficult to mix up a batch yourself. It only requires a few simple ingredients and typically takes just 10 minutes to make.

If you love the rich umami taste of Japanese soups, hondashi, dashi, and dashi no moto will all get you the flavor you are looking for.

But if you’re looking to make the best stuff yourself, check out my article on how to make a dashi soup stock with kombu and shiitake, which is probably the easiest way you can get started.

Enjoy flavoring your food with these soup stock bases

Whether you’re making something as traditional as miso soup, or something as contemporary as dashi shake fries, you now know the difference between the 3 soup stock bases: dashi, Hondashi, and dashi no moto. With this new knowledge, you’ll be able to add irresistible flavor and create some tasty Japanese dishes full of umami, no matter which soup base you use!

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.