‘I use it in bolognaise sauce,’ says Silvena Rowe, her trademark hair for once not in rapid motion around the kitchen of the May Fair Hotel where she’s head chef. She’s taking five minutes out to tell us how she used Kikkoman’s Soy Sauce in the dishes just served us to add salt, umami and the delicious vibrancy good soy brings.

There is of course soy and soy. ‘No Japanese person will use Chinese soy,’ says Shinichi Denda, Kikkoman Sales and Marketing Director with a slight shudder sitting across from me at the table. He pours soy from two unmarked bottles into saucers. One is dark brown, a viscous liquid like treacle. It smells overwhelmingly of caramel and tastes much the same. The other is like a wine, dark in the centre but fading toward the edges. It has a sharp distinctive flavour; it rolls across the palate lighting up taste buds as it goes. It is of course Kikkoman Soy Sauce made from nothing but soybeans, wheat, salt and water all naturally fermented. A look at the other soy’s now revealed label shows mostly sugar and water in its production, so no wonder it tastes so horrible.

Soy isn’t just a sauce to splash in stir fries Kikkoman and Silvena point out; it’s a seasoning that should stand alongside the pepper and salt in all kitchens, and perhaps even instead of the salt. That’s because soy delivers needed saltiness without all the unnecessary salt, making it a healthier option. And now that Kikkoman have launched a wheat free soy sauce, most diets are catered for. Apparently wheat intolerance is on the up in Japan and in the world and Kikkoman have responded.

Silvena has served Grilled Jumbo Prawn and Grapefruit and Kikkoman amari Ponzu dressing as a starter, the citrus notes of the ponzu melding with the grapefruit. The prawn meat has been taken out of the shell, diced, cooked and dressed and placed back in. A delicate dish that was easy to eat and clean on the eye.

Slightly less easy on the eye was Silvena’s signature dish of 45 days aged Cote de Bouef, with oregano za’atar spices, Kikkoman Tamari and sesame seeds. This came as a massive hunk of meat, sliced and served with the tamari and sesame on the side. A superb bit of beef it had remarkable flavour that was pointed up by the tamari drizzled over it and roasted sesame seeds are always delicious.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the jaunty red bottle of Kikkoman’s, a brilliant piece of branding that’s served them well for many years. Like Silvena I splash it into bolognaise and I also use it in stews and in gravy too, it’s very versatile.

Kikkoman have given is some recipes shown below to make their sauce really shine, and you can find them here