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.

Bellevue Japanese Restaurant: Salmon Skin Has Benefits

Salmon and Salmon Skin

It is no secret that salmon is a healthy food choice. The fish is high in good fats, that of Omega-3 which is beneficial to cardiovascular health. Omega-3 is found in the salmon’s fat and in its skin. So how come you tend to remove the skin off the fish before cooking it? Most people do when cooking salmon fillet, others do not like the taste of salmon skin. Others believe that the skin absorbs much of the toxins if the fish swim and feed on other marine life in contaminated waters. Notorious pollutants are PCBs and mercury that can lead to health complications.

However, many great recipes include salmon skins. Why so and is it safe to eat them? Know that Omega-3 is absorbed by the skin during cooking, so there is an additional health benefit. With skin on, the meat also retains its moisture as it cooks. Seared skin adds a crispy dimension to your salmon dish as well, if cooked right.

Salmon skin contains the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce triglyceride levels and decrease your chances of heart disease. Cooking fillets with the skin on can also keep nutrients and oils inside the fish that might otherwise be lost in the preparation process. While the US FDA recommends two to three times a week eating salmon, it knows about contaminated fish. With the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, the FDA advises on how to consume fish safely.

Firstly, it’s important to know where the salmon you eat comes from. The most contaminated fish is farmed from the Atlantic Ocean, so it might be best to avoid eating its skin. But if your salmon is wild-caught from the Atlantic it is slightly less contaminated. The best salmon skin to cook and eat would come from a wild-caught Pacific salmon. For most other people, the benefits of eating salmon skin will probably outweigh the risks for if the salmon comes from uncontaminated waters.

Eating Safe Salmon Skin in Bellevue

Try Flo’s delicious smoked salmon skin salad when you’re in Bellevue. Our safe-sourced salmon skin salad is mixed greens, yamagobo (pickled burdock root), shaved bonito, and kaiware (winter radish) with Japanese vinaigrette. You will also love our salmon sashimi and sushi. Try healthy and delicious at Flo.

What Makes A Great Steak?

The Flavor and Tenderness of Dry-Aged

What do you think distinguishes a good steakhouse from a great one? Great steakhouses serve dry aged beef. What does dry aging do to steaks? Dry aging does for red meat what cave aging does for cheese, or what cellaring does for Bordeaux. Aging improves the taste significantly.

There are many chemical reactions happening while dry aging red meat. Simply put, water content in beef evaporates while it ages, leaving behind the meat’s original flavor. There is breakdown also of connective tissue enabling the meat to be more tender, but again, there is no loss of flavor.

Many diners would love their steaks really tender so they’d opt for more tender cuts, like filet mignon. However, they may be less flavorful. The loss of flavor for tenderness is a compromise not found with dry aged beef. If you choose rib eyes or porterhouse/T-bones, where you go after the meat nearest the bones for flavor, if the beef is dry-aged, you get both tenderness and flavor.

Dry aging beef to enhance its flavor and tenderness is used by a very small number of meat purveyors for upscale hotels and restaurants and by an even smaller number of retailers for the gourmet market. Dry aging at refrigeration temperatures for one to five weeks allows the natural enzymatic and biochemical processes to result in improved tenderness and the development of the unique flavor.

Omaha Steaks are, of course, one of the more revered products out of Omaha, Nebraska. Family-owned and operational since 1917, the brand is recognized nationally. Beef are grain-fed, USDA-inspected, naturally aged and trimmed by hand. The vacuum-wrapped beef are flash-frozen to seal freshness. Omaha Steaks is the largest small parcel direct shipper of gourmet foods in the US.

Aged Omaha New York Steak: Flo’s Pride

Flo does its steaks like no other. Dry-aged Omaha steaks come with a slight Japanese twist that diners love. Pan-seared, the New York style steak comes with house-made Yuzu ginger Demi Glace or teriyaki and sautéed with seasonal vegetables. A must-order for special occasions.

Shiitake Mushrooms: Fungus With Benefits

The Amazing Fungus Called Shiitake

The shiitake mushroom has primordial origins and most revered for its health-boosting properties, hence, its use in antiquated medicine. The mushrooms have no roots, no leaves, no blossoms, or seeds, so they fall into a special category: fungus. They are sought after for their rich texture and smoky flavor, in fact more flavorful than the most readily available and cultivated edible mushrooms in the world, the white button mushrooms. When shiitakes are dried and reconstituted by soaking, their flavors intensify the more.

Japan used to be the leader in world production of shiitake mushrooms though China holds that post now – 80% of supplies. However, there are hundreds of US growers that use the superior “forest farming” method to produce shiitake mushrooms on hardwood logs. Elsewhere, the mushrooms are mass-cultivated, using pesticides and fungicides. So better look at labels saying that the product is certified organic.

The vitamins and minerals in shiitakes are unique than other foods. Copper in the mushrooms are 65% of the daily value per serving, one of the few metallic elements essential to human health. Few people eat copper-rich foods, leading to a copper deficiency that can be a factor in coronary heart disease development.

Shiitakes also provide 52% pantothenic acid and 51% selenium of the daily value. Riboflavin, niacin, zinc, and manganese play supportive roles, along with ergothioneine, an antioxidant that inhibits oxidative stress. They also have strong compounds that discourage inflammation, tumors, “bad” bacteria, harmful viruses, and other fungus. Vitamins B2, B5 and B6 are also present, providing energy by breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins.

There is a study showing the cancer-preventing properties of the mushrooms due to a potent antifungal protein found in them – lentinan. This protein slowed down the development of smaller tumors after oral treatment with lentinan. Another study found that the spores of shiitake mushrooms can have protective abilities on the liver, suppress inflammation, and even have cancer-preventive properties for patients with chronic hepatitis. (Original Article)

Shiitake In Your Diet in Bellevue

When you dine at Flo, your Japanese restaurant in Bellevue, request for your grilled and organic shiitake mushrooms; ours is lightly seasoned. It’s one of our most requested items on the menu. Eat delicious and eat healthy. Remember, it’s good for the heart.

The Bento Box History: by Bellevue Japanese Restaurant

The Bento Box: From Lunch to Luxury

The bento box is ingrained in Japanese culinary history. Over the last 15 centuries, the bento box evolved from an ordinary utility container to status symbol, prominent in Japanese popular culture. Japanese farmers, hunters and warriors in the 5th century would pack their lunches in sacks or boxes and take them to the fields. Designed from a farmer’s seed box, it contains separate compartments for rice, fish and vegetables. It spread to other countries and each culture adapted their own dishes for the box.

Actually, the word ‘bento’ was derived from the Southern Song Dynasty slang term biàndāng, which means “convenient.” Nonetheless, the general idea is to have variety and a balanced meal, and that remained constant.

Bento boxes can be made of basket material or lacquered wood, or of aluminum which became popular during the Taishō period, between 1912 to 1926. People loved their bento boxes; they brought them to cultural and social events, like religious holidays, festivals and to the theater. As Japan was recovering after World War I, the economy only permitted the rich to have shiny bento boxes; poor families could not afford it.

Then the government recommended nutritious meals for all school children in the late 19th century, which then became standard in 1954, post-World War II, that all lunches contain a cup of milk, a loaf of bread, a pat of butter, rice, and a bowl of soup.

By the 1980s, with the influx of TV dinners and convenience food, the bento resurged in popularity. Japanese-American sugar plantation workers were the first to bring the bento lunch to the US, and from hence, it caught up in other western cultures. In the 1990s, character bentos came into being and are still popular today. Children bring them to school, workers to their offices and factories. Mothers and housewives love preparing their bento boxes, in itself is art. There are bento recipes, bento blogs, and more.

Stores are all over out-selling each other with their own creative box designs and edible characters in malls, supermarkets, train stations, airports, among others. Eating spots, like lounges, bars, restaurants and hotels have their own bento offerings. Truly, the humble farmer’s lunch box has come a long, long way. But remember, a balanced meal remains constant.

Balanced and Beautiful in Bellevue

Enjoy our bento box lunch specials at FLO, your authentic Japanese restaurant in Bellevue. When you do, remember the beginnings of the lowly lunch box as you savor great Japanese cuisine now in our stylishly crafted bento boxes.