Preservative-free teriyaki sauce sounds pretty tasty.
Correct. But it’s not just teriyaki – Jimoto Foods also makes a yuzu and chilli sauce; a spiced ume (plum) and lime sauce; and a chilli miso one that tastes good on anything from salad to brisket. And the teriyaki is infused with Sydney-grown shiso – that fresh, minty, basil-y Japanese herb that’s difficult to define.

“I love going to shops like Tokyo Mart and buying all the bottled sauces,” Jimoto Foods founder Max Smith tells Broadsheet. “[Those sauces] taste amazing, but you look on the label and see all these numbers, thickeners, emulsifiers – it’s a bit off-putting.

“I’ve been a chef for many years in a Japanese restaurant, and I realised how well local Australian produce goes with artisanal Japanese sauces. I wanted to make something that’s accessible and gives the home cook a helping hand.”

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That’s great cos I’m a terrible cook. Will this lift my kitchen game?
That’s the plan, says Smith, who makes everything by hand and gets his ingredients from top Aussie farmers.

“The sauces are super versatile and easy to use. If you have a piece of fish or a steak, you sear it in a pan, and when it’s pretty much cooked you add some teriyaki sauce to the hot pan, let it come to the boil and glaze your protein.”

You can find the full recipe here. Smith has been head chef at Sydney’s lauded Japanese restaurant Cho Cho San for a number of years, so he knows his way around the kitchen.

He suggests adding the miso chilli to sandwiches, eggs, ramen and udon noodles. It’s not super spicy, he says, although that probably depends on your palate. Drizzle with caution until you get a feel for your personal heat tolerance.

Lots of people have been making things like this as a side hustle or main hustle during the pandemic. But Jimoto Foods isn’t that.
“It’s funny timing, [but] I was planning Jimoto Foods well before the pandemic. I think it’s a great thing, all these products we’ve seen from other chefs. We’ve been really blessed. But I don’t want Jimoto to fall into that category, like this was something I was doing in between work. I want this to keep growing and growing,” he says.

There are other things beyond sauces, too.
Jimoto Foods sells sauces, plus sauce-adjacent items like ceramic bowls made by a local ceramicist and custom hibachi grills. “The hibachis started out as a favour we were doing for chefs cooking at home. They’re handmade by my girlfriend’s father, who is a specialist welder. We design each grill together and they’re made to order.”

The wait time for a custom hibachi grill is a couple of months, and there is a waitlist. “They’re really good. You put some charcoal in the middle and cook yakitori or steak. They give a nice flavour to seafood,” says Smith.

What’s next?

“We’re working on a ponzu, and the main ingredient will be something that’s native to Australia. We’re really excited. It will be great with oysters, raw seafood and sashimi. Each product takes us a long time to perfect, but we’ve already been handing some ponzu out to friends and family to taste.”

Jimoto Foods sauces can be bought online, and the company ships Australia-wide. They can also be found at some IGAs and speciality food retailers around the country.

“How Cool Is This” is a Broadsheet column about the things, services and products we like and think you should know about.