Best Katsuobushi or “Bonito Flakes” Brands: Authentic Umami Flavor
Katsuobushi is probably one of the most – if not THE MOST – versatile seasoning in the world and packs a ton of umami!
The bonito chunks (raw katsuobushi) are sold in just about every convenience store that you can find, in Japan that is.
In the West, we can often buy the bonito flakes in Asian grocery stores, or online. Let’s look at the best brands.
In this post we'll cover:
Best Katsuobushi in pre-ready bonito flakes
Bonito can be bought fresh in grocery stores while bonito flakes can be purchased from retailers online and in brick-and-mortar locations.
You can get the shaved-down flakes online, here’s my favorite brand Marutomo with best quality for the lowest price.
If you’re looking for high-quality bonito flakes, here are a few brands to choose from.
They are sealed in plastic bags and are sold at a very low price.
Eden sells bonito flakes that are imported from Japan. They’re aged and dried and have a rich, savory taste.
The brand recommends you try them in noodle broth with shiitake or in French onion soup.
Yamaki is the top seller of bonito flakes in Japan. Their product is low in fat and calories and high in protein, EPA, and DHA.
The flavor is rich and savory and makes for a great source of umami.
This brand offers bonito flakes sold in individual 0.104 oz. packets. The portable packaging makes it easy to add to dishes and is serving-size friendly.
It’s a great option for take-out restaurants.
Ducky Duddle makes a unique offering selling a set that includes a bag of dried bonito flakes alongside a bag of dried seaweed.
This provides you with all you need to make great dashi. You can also use the products together or separately to flavor any number of dishes.
Sold in 2 bags of 100g each, Kaneso offers bonito flakes that are extremely rich in flavor. They advertise their product as working well in a wide variety of dishes and they recommend it as a simple topping for rice.
Buying a Katsuobushi block
A Katsuobushi block is the (Japanese: 鰹節) is the dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna. It comes in the form of blocks and is often shaved down to make bonito flakes often found in Japanese dishes and dashi.
In America you might have to look to your local Japanese store or sometimes some Chinese stores as well (the larger ones).
You can also get it on Amazon here and have it sent to you:
You can take this home with you and shave it to flakes yourself (there are shaving tools for katsuobushi that you can buy too).
Best katsuobushi shaver
If you want to buy a Katsuobushi shaver, you can’t do better than one that’s made in Japan and the Tikusan company imports these now to America.
The shaver is an essential tool if you’re going to buy your katsuobushi in blocks as you need to use the flakes on your Japanese dishes and in your dashi.
The katsuobushi shaver is called a “Kezuri” and was an essential tool in making bonito flakes after 1670 when the Japanese added mould to the fermentation process.
Using the mould, the fish would be able to be preserved for even longer than before, but it also took out all of the water and fat from the fish, thus making the katsuobushi block as we know it now as hard as stone.
Prior to 1670 a knife would be used to shave down the blocks into shavings for consumption, but after the making process was changed, the specifically designed Kezuri shaver was introduced and became a household item.
You can shave the dried fish block over the top of the shaver like so:
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.