Osechi Ryori: Going Traditional for New Year in Bellevue

The Concept of Osechi Ryori

A traditional feast is observed in Japan at the start of the New Year. People go back to their hometowns, pay a respectful visit to their local shrine, and enjoy traditional food. That traditional food is the popular osechi ryori, granted a status as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

This practice goes back to the Heian period (794-1185). Ritual offerings of food are conducted to be presented to the gods on sechinichi days. These days marked the changing of the seasons based on the traditional Chinese almanacs. Some days are more important than others, and by far the most important one is the beginning of the New Year. On this day, special dishes were offered to various gods and members of the elite society partake of it as well.

Long been practised, this tradition soon spread to the rest of society and by the Edo period (1603-1868), they were being practiced commonly around Japan. Various beliefs came about, curiously and especially that on the first days of the New Year, any kind of work – including cooking – was to be avoided. One theory suggests that the deities shouldn’t be disturbed on these days by the sounds of cooking, or that those who are preparing the foods, especially women, should enjoy their rest and not have to work.

The osechi then was only simple food, like vegetables boiled in soy sauce and vinegar. Over the centuries, many more food varieties were added such that it became a more elaborate affair. These dishes have a special meaning.

Black beans, called Kuromame, mean health, so that a person can be able to work hard in the coming year. Kazunoko is herring roe, means many children. Kōhaku kamaboko is a red and white fish cake not only represents the Japanese flag colors, but also mean evil spirits (red) and purity (white). Tazukuri is sardines boiled in soy sauce and symbolic of a plentiful harvest. Datemaki is an omelette mixed with mashed shrimp or fish paste, associated with learning and scholarship. Kurikinton are sweet dumplings out of chestnuts.; yellow in color, associated with gold and financial prosperity. Kobu is connected to the word yorokobu, or happiness. Tai is made into the traditional food that is fed to a baby 100 days after birth; it’s meant to bring joy and happiness in the new year. Shrimp and Soba both mean longevity.

So if you’re invited to an Osechi Ryori, it’s good to know its background and what those foods mean.

New Year with Osechi

Here at Flo in Bellevue, we bring you this very special cuisine in the Japanese tradition of Osechi Ryori. Greet the New Year with our wide exquisite selections set in beautifully crafted presentations.

Seasonal Osechi

Akemashite Omedetou Goizaimasu! Happy New Year!
We hope you enjoy our Osechi this year with family and special friends. We have worked hard to present this very special cuisine in the Japanese tradition for your pleasure and please note all items were “made from scratch”, no pre-packaged items. And made with extra attention to detail. On behalf of all of us here at FLO, Arigato Goizaimashita!

Executive Chef, Junichiro Ise


1st Layer (top)

Black Cod Fish Cake
King Crab & Shiso Sushi wrapped in Bamboo leaf
10 Hour steamed Abalone
Herring Roe
Sake braised Shrimp
Anchovy w/Soy caramel
Grilled King Crab leg
Black Beans
Pickled Daikon & Carrot
Sweet Egg

2nd Layer (middle)

Pork Belly
Pickled Lotus Root
Pickled Burdock root
Black Cod-soy, miso marinate
Sockeye Salmon-Citrus soy marinate
Chicken Meat Ball
BBQ Pork Japanese Style
Beef Negi maki
Miso Chicken

3rd Layer (bottom)

Baby Taro
Shiitake Mushroom
Snow Pea
Potato Cake
Bamboo shoot
Braised Octopus
Duck Breast
Kombu & Chicken Roll
Crab & Egg Omelet
Chest Nut
Flower Carrot
Flower Daikon
Sweet Potato


FLO Featured on Seattle SoySource

The Black Cod

Black Cod: The Succulent Non-Cod Fish

Many fish are called cods and there are many cods in the market sharing similar traits – firm, white, meaty flesh. A few of the most common are Atlantic Cod, a favorite for fish and chips; Lingcod, a favorite for recreational fishing by anglers on the West Coast; Pacific Cod, the second most abundant white fish in the world; Alaskan Pollock, the oilier and stronger-tasting most abundant white fish in the world, used in fish sticks and fast-food fish sandwiches; then there’s the Black Cod.

Black Cod or Sablefish is often called ‘butterfish’ due to its intensely rich, buttery flavour, yet very delicate texture. It is a deep-sea fish, living 5,000 feet (or up to 9,000 feet) in muddy depths below sea level in the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to British Columbia. It is available in Eastern Pacific (from Southern California to Bering Sea) and Western Pacific (from Kamchatka and Russia to Southern Japan). Its predators are Salmon, Sperm whales, Pacific halibut and Orcas. Its diet consists of squid, small fishes and jellyfish.

However, it is not a true cod. Black Cod just resemble regular cod fish. But they mature early and are are long-living (like up to 90 years). This makes them a good sustainable source of food.

Like salmon, black cod can contain as much omega-3 (EPA and DHA), has three times more saturated fats than salmon and has many of the other nutrients found in salmon as well, such as vitamin B12. It also contains amino acids and other minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Its rich succulent taste and texture is often compared to that of sea bass. It can also substitute for Chilean Bass.

In Japan, black cod is an essential element for sushi. Its high fat content allows it to go through different forms of cooking – frying, steak, smoking, broiling, baking and grilling.

Enjoying Bellevue Black Cod

You will just love Flo’s broiled Black Cod marinated in house-made Saikyo Miso sauce and served with light-tempura enoki mushrooms. It makes one great dinner.

Udon and Soba: Perennial Noodle Favorites in Bellevue

Everyone’s Favorite Japanese Noodles

Udon and soba are so very typical Japanese noodles that they have been integral to the Japanese diet and culture. Both can be added to other ingredients, blending well and giving texture and flavor to the whole dish. They can be served hot or cold even if they are cooked similarly- in a large container of boiling, salted water and considered done when they reach the right consistency.

There are many different varieties of udon and soba in different regions of Japan, though both originate from China. Udon came to imperial Japan during the Nara period (710-784 AD) while soba came much earlier, during the Jomon period (13000 BC to 300 BC)

The noodles also differ in their composition. Udon noodles are made out of wheat flour – they are thick and white in color. They are best eaten as fresh as they are soft and chewy. Neutral in flavor, they are able to absorb strong-flavored ingredients or dishes from curried broths to toppings that include deep fried fish, various vegetables, pork, etc. The texture of dried udon is, however, more dense.

Soba noodles are made out of buckwheat, with a strong nutty flavor. If they have wheat in them, and many do, it means they are not gluten-free. Pure buckwheat soba is gluten-free and stronger in flavor. The noodles are thin and soft, a lot chewier and nuttier than udon. Dried soba looks like flat spaghetti and is usually light beige to dark brown-gray in color.

Both udon and soba are extremely popular, filling noodles to be eaten at any time of the day. While there are other Japanese noodle types, like yakisoba, ramen and somen, the udon and soba are the much loved, traditional and versatile favorites in any honest-to-goodness Japanese restaurant.

Enjoying Udon and Soba in Bellevue

Here at Flo, we serve your favorite noodles together with other great classics. They are our lunchtime specials. We’ve got Tempura Udon or Tempura Soba or our Nabeyaki Udon. Enjoy our noodles like nowhere else, only here at your Japanese restaurant in Bellevue.