The Toro in Tuna is the Best in Bellevue

From the Underbelly of the Bluefin Tuna

If you like raw Japanese tuna, you’ll easily say that the toro in the tuna is your favorite part. True toro is only taken from bluefin tuna, though there are many types of tuna, like yellowfin and big eye, that are made into sushi. Toro comes from the fatty underbelly of the tuna, divided into grades based on the marbling of the meat. Otoro is the most valuable toro, from the underside of the fish close to the head. A lesser grade toro is chutoro, from the belly in the middle and back of the fish and is less marbled.

In Japan, when bluefin tuna arrives at the fish market, it is handled with care so as not to bruise or damage the flesh. A special tool is used to get the core samples of the flesh and then its color, texture and flavor is assessed before it is priced. When it comes to the fatty belly of the tuna, the higher the quality of the cuts, the pricier it is.

The high quality otoro is pale pink with rich white streaks; the chutoro has less of it while being more fatty than cuts from the upper side of the fish. Of all the seasons, winter is the time that toro is more flavorful as tuna accumulates more fat. And because it cannot withstand prolonged freezing, it is best eaten fresh.

Toro beguiles many fish eaters because of its delightful flavor. The belly fat combined with raw tuna flesh leaves a buttery melting sensation in the mouth as it is eaten. It is often used two ways – in sashimi and nigiri sushi, displaying their distinct beautiful marblings It is also sometimes used to make seared rare tuna, grilled outside and creamy cool inside.

While toro is widely consumed in Japan, it is surprisingly only available in some specialty Japanese restaurants in coastal United States. Finding places like these and experiencing the gastronomical delights of the toro is just rewarding.

Flo: Bellevue’s Favorite Sushi Restaurant

Right here at Flo, your Japanese restaurant in Bellevue, experience our Otoro Fatty Tuna that is one of our more popular gems among other classics. We are truly your authentic and fresh, traditional yet fashionable fusion spot. In fact, Flo has once again been selected as best among Japanese sushi restaurants in The Best of 425, a 2017 survey release by 425, Eastside’s favorite community magazine.

Find here readers’ choices of the best of everything, tallied from thousands of votes. It describes Flo as a tasting tour of Japan without leaving Bellevue. So if you’re nearby, come see us and find out why we are readers’ pick.

Wonders of Enoki Mushrooms in Bellevue

The Healthy Enoki

You must have seen those pure white, long and slim stems and small caps atop of the enoki mushroom in your soups or salads. They are also called Enokitake or Winter Mushrooms. They are commonly found in East Asian dishes, particularly Japanese dishes like nabemono and sukiyaki. Tender yet firm in texture, they come with a crunchy bite and a mild, refreshing fruity flavor.

Available year-round, the mushrooms grow wild on wood stumps, in bundles, of certain trees like the Chinese Hackberry tree, mulberry and persimmon trees. Other types of wild enoki mushrooms differ in color and texture, but experts advise to avoid slimy and brownish stems. If you get cultivated mushrooms, since they are not exposed to light, their stems are white; also grown in a carbon dioxide-rich environment that promotes the long stems. Wild enoki mushrooms have brownish and shorter, thicker stems and larger caps.

You can complement soups, salads, stir-fries and noodle dishes with enoki. They can also be added to omelets, risottos, hot pot and curries. Chefs like to roll up the mushrooms in spring rolls and sushi or wrapped with bacon or thin slices of beef and grilled. They add flavor and texture to soba noodles, soy, ginger, bacon, lemongrass, fresh herbs and seafood. Getting them fresh, they will remain crisp and firm in the refrigerator for a week.

The mushrooms are high in dietary fiber and protein, and rich in the minerals niacin, calcium, potassium, selenium and iron. They’re also known to have anti-inflammatory properties and are immune system boosters. Cultivated for hundreds of years, they are one of the first mushrooms to be studied for cancer prevention. It was found out by an epidemiologist in Japan that people living in the Nagano prefecture had unusually low cancer rates for the period 1972 to 86. He learned that the region was the center of cultivation for enoki mushrooms.

Healthy Mushrooms in Bellevue

Come by Flo, your Bellevue Japanese restaurant for some authentic classics. Our ingredients are carefully sourced and always fresh for your dining pleasure, such as our mushrooms – shiitake or enoki.

Omakase: For the Brave and Adventurous in Bellevue

What You Should Know Before Ordering Omakase

When a diner says to the chef: “I will leave it to you,” it is actually a fine tradition at Japanese eating places that allows the chef to let his creative juices flow in making your dish. “Omakase!” is trusting your chef and at the same time hoping you will have a great dining experience. Though before you go omakase, bear in mind a few details.

Does your restaurant always have fresh ingredients in stock everyday? If so, then you can trust easily. Not all, but most large or chain restaurants or other restaurants with limited ingredients may not do omakase to your liking. Small, intimate restaurants may have the culture of omakase. They usually have counter seats and an open kitchen. It is best if you have a seat next to the chef.

You can also get a conversation going with your chef. A small social interaction can do wonders for your dish. Your chef may even explain to you his creation and tell you why he is choosing certain ingredients over others. If it’s ok with him, you can snap a few photos of him while working your dish. Just be careful with personal questions. Some may indulge you.

Omakase might not be for you if you have dietary restrictions. It is not polite to instruct your chef what and what not to put into your dish. It is not how it works. You can’t even ask what you’ll get. The polite thing to do is to eat your dish when the chef offers it.

At the end of the meal, you’ll get a slip of paper that indicates what they’re charging you for your omakase, drinks included. Do not ask for an itemized bill, it is not to be considered an expense, but a request for a wonderful meal. The price may be hefty but its value is immeasurable. Trust the chef and expect to be delighted.

Delightful Omakase at FLO

Trust your chef at Flo, your Bellevue Japanese Restaurant, where omakase is always a surprise and always to wonder about. Experience our chef’s creations at their best. Worry not for you will know how much the experience will cost you. Our omakase is always a five-course tasting menu to enjoy.

Sake at Bellevue Japanese Restaurant: Warm or Cold?

Which Sake is Best?

If you are a first-timer of Japan’s national drink – sake – it might be good to experiment first to see for yourself which of the varieties suit you best. This alcoholic drink made of fermented rice and water presents with a different taste depending on the temperature it is served. Some sakes are at their best when cold, some are better tasting when warmed.

If you are worried about which is the proper sake for you when you dine out, do ask the restaurant staff for recommendations or any sake expert. There is no hard-and-fast rule. Should you drink sake warmed or cold, or at room temperature? But if you like the taste of a particular one, then that is it.

Many sake experts say that ginjo and daiginjo sakes are usually best chilled as cold temperatures enhance their aroma and flavors. They taste light and refined, fruity or fragrant. On the other hand, junmai and honjozo sakes are best when warmed which draws out their complex, full flavors and smooths them somewhat. You see, a different temperature produces a different characteristic of the same sake. Just remember that over-heating or over-chilling any particular sake can disrupt its flavors.

Warmed or Cold Sake: Your choice is best

Know more about sake when you visit Flo, your Bellevue Japanese restaurant. Experiment with our sakes and you’ll find the one best suited to your taste – warmed or chilled just right.

The Rules of Sushi

Rules of Dining Sushi

Where sushi is concerned, a few rules are observed in the art of consuming this delicacy. When you go dine out in traditional Japanese restaurants,

For example, it is becoming a common practice of Japanese outside Japan to mix their wasabi in soy sauce as the dipping sauce for sushi. It is now quite acceptable, but technically, it is improper. The proper way is to put a small amount of wasabi on a sushi with your chopsticks before it is eaten. And how about the soy sauce? Only the fish or seafood part of the sushi should touch the soy sauce and not the rice part which is already flavored.

Besides, the rice dipped in sauce may crumble and fall apart. Also, you must eat sushi by hand and in one bite and not use chopsticks. If the restaurant provides hand towels at the table, you are expected to use your hands with the sushi. These days, though, the chopsticks have replaced fingers.

Did you know that when eating sushi, a certain sequence is observed. You must start with the most delicate or lightest-flavored fish going forward to the strongest, fattiest fish. It’s a build-up, an ascending crescendo of flavors to be topped by something sweet, as an egg sushi. To refresh, in between sushi bites, ginger is eaten to shift flavors. The Japanese believe ginger helps digestion as well.

Further to that, and to not take away from dining on really delicious, authentic sushi, refrain from sticking your chopsticks upright into your rice. That is a no-no, as well as using your sticks to cut your sushi in half like a knife. Just simple rules to live by.

Romancing the Sushi in Bellevue

Whether you observe these little rules or not, we guarantee you will enjoy Flo’s delicious and beautifully crafted sushi by our esteemed chefs. When in Bellevue, drop in at our Japanese restaurant for a memorable culinary experience.