The Most Traditional Foods of Japan

The Top Traditions: Centuries-Old Food

Here are the most traditional and still extremely popular Japanese dishes.

Sushi and Sashimi

Sushi is one of the most famous foods from Japan, the concept likely introduced in the ninth century with the spread of Buddhism. Sushi originated from the process of preserving fish in fermented rice. Today it’s made with vinegared rice and fresh fish, presented in a number of ways and shapes.

The Japanese first enjoyed raw fish without the rice centuries before sushi came. “Sashimi” refers to any thinly sliced raw food, including raw beef and chicken. Fish and seafood are the most popular varieties now

More Common and Popular Japanese Dishes

Tempura is a dish of battered and fried fish, seafood, or vegetables. It was introduced by the Portuguese residing in Nagasaki in the 16th century. It is most commonly eaten using Ten-tsuyu dipping sauce made with fish-stock, mirin, and soy sauce. Grated daikon radish or ginger is added for extra kick.

Yakitori is bite-sized cuts of chicken grilled on a skewer. Every part of the chicken is used to avoid wastefulness, an important element of Japanese food culture. Because meat was largely forbidden for many centuries in Japan, yakitori has only been eaten since around the mid-17th century.

Miso soup accompanies any traditional meal. It’s made from dashi stock – either fish or kelp stock – combined with miso bean paste for a savory umami element. Seasonally, other ingredients are added – tofu, sliced green onions, fish, clams, and pork.

Udon is a thick and chewy wheat flour noodle. It’s delicious, inexpensive and versatile – enjoyed hot or cold and customized with toppings. There are many stories about its origins, and some say that the start of the milling technique in mid-1200 AD made possible making long noodles.

Soba is another noodle dish eaten in Japan for centuries. Made from buckwheat flour, soba comes in a long thin shape and firm texture and is very healthy. Also served in a hot broth or chilled with a dipping sauce, making it a delicious and healthy option any time of year.

Sukiyaki is a one-pot dish of beef, vegetables, and tofu cooked with a sweet soy sauce broth in a shallow cast iron pot. After banning eating meat for centuries, the Meiji period lifted it and the dish became very popular. It’s a way of enjoying Japan’s incredibly rich and tender wagyu beef.

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Serving Traditional and Fusion in Bellevue

Experience both traditional as well as fusion dishes at your favorite Japanese restaurant in Bellevue, FLO. We hold true to real Japanese tradition in our serving style, our atmosphere, and our dedication to serve.

In Search of the Best Part of the Tuna

Different Parts of Tuna

If you have always enjoyed tuna sushi, then you would know which part of the fish gives you the best experience. Depending on the type of taste and texture you’re looking for, tuna has several different options. From rich otoro to meaty akami, you’ll be sure to find something you like when it comes to Japanese cuisine with tuna. The taste of raw tuna in Japanese sushi or sashimi is nothing like a cooked tuna dish. Let us look at the three different parts of the tuna fish you can try – otoro, chutoro, and akami.

Tastes and Textures

Otoro is the most desirable part from the inside of the fish’s belly. It is the fattiest part of the fish; it practically melts in your mouth. By itself, the underbelly is separated into grades recognizable according to the marbling throughout the steak. It is exceptional if you see soft pink together with vibrant white colored lines. Otoro comes with a lot of delicious oily lines, which give it that distinctive and magnificent tastiness. By far the most precious otoro is the lower belly towards the head. Its rich and highly sought-after nature makes otoro more expensive than other parts of the fish. Although sushi includes many various tuna types such as yellow tail as well as big eye, excellent quality otoro is simply obtained from only the bluefin tuna.

Akami is the most common and frequently-used part of the tuna. This part is meaty and red, found most often atop rice in sashimi or in a sushi roll. It is the leaner meat from the sides of the fish. Because this is the main part of a tuna, it is much more readily available than chutoro or otoro.

Chutoro is another part of the tuna. This is a perfect blend of otoro and akami. It combines both types of tuna, it provides both a meaty and a fatty texture for a real celebration in your mouth. However, there is not a lot of chutoro when enjoying tuna, because it makes up only a small amount of the fish. It takes a whole fish to make one chutoro sashimi.

If you find tuna served in restaurants, it is generally one of two species, the bluefin tuna, traditionally known as ‘maguro,’ which is usually fairly lean, and the yellowfin tuna, known as ‘ahi’, which is a fattier species. Yellowfin tuna may also be labeled ‘maguro‘ but more often than not, it will be bluefin tuna. Tuna sushi is further broken up into subtypes, based on the fat content. If you ask for ‘maguro’ at a restaurant, or order any kind of tuna roll or sushi without requesting ‘toro,’ you will get ‘akami’.

Enjoying Prime Tuna in Bellevue

Looking for quality tuna? Look no further than your acclaimed Japanese restaurant in Bellevue. We serve maguro and otoro sushi and sashimi, some of the best you’ll find in Bellevue.

Beef Tataki: The Art of Seared and Rare Beef

Understanding the Art of Tataki

When you hear the term “tataki” referring to Japanese food – it has two meanings. The first is that it’s a verb, from the word ‘tataku’, meaning to pound or to hammer. However, it’s not the actual meat that’s being pounded. Instead, it’s ginger, which is ground or pound into a paste. The second, which is more used today, is that it’s a piece of beef or fish that is seared on the outside but left raw on the inside.

The tataki technique was said to have originated in the historic Tosa Province. It was developed by a 19th century rebel samurai, who applied the technique of grilling meat which he learnt from the Europeans residing in the city of Nagasaki.

The preferred fish to use for tataki is the bonito or skipjack tuna. However, ahi tuna and salmon have become more popular recently. Then the fish is marinated briefly in rice vinegar and thinly sliced for serving. The traditional presentation includes garnishes of finely sliced scallions and shredded ginger, with soy sauce for dipping. However, during the cooking, once the fish is flash-grilled, many chefs will submerge it to stop its cooking process. But because immersing the fish can wash away good fat and flavor, other chefs prefer to let the fish cool by fanning it, then thinly slicing it and presenting it to the guest.

When it comes to beef, a filet mignon or a sirloin strip is favored. To prepare beef tataki, firstly the sirloin steak is deboned. The combination of chopped scallions, ginger, lemon juice and soy sauce is drizzled over sticks of carrot, radish and sliced onion placed in a small bowl. Steak that was pre-seasoned with salt and some pepper is braised on both sides to obtain a medium-rare beef. After cooling slightly it is cut into thin slices and served with the prepared vegetables flavored with the sauce.

The art of tataki is achieved by quickly searing the meat over a grill that has high heat, giving crispiness to the skin but leaving the middle rare. When done correctly, the outside of the beef will be brown (while the fish should be white), and will have a pink or red middle.

Experiencing Tataki Art in Bellevue

To experience the art of tataki, try Flo’s New York Steak Tataki. It’s seared Omaha New York steak with shaved red onions, garlic chips, kaiware, wasabi crème fraiche and ponzu.

Right and a Wrong Way to Eat Sushi

Things You Can and Cannot Do With Sushi

According to a top sushi chef in New York, eating sushi the proper way may present some problems to those who are unaccustomed to the delicacy. In fact, even die-hard sushi lovers may be doing it all wrong. Top chef gives some helpful tips to enjoying the famous dish anywhere you find it in the world.

If it’s easier for you, eat sushi with the fingers. Sounds uncouth but picking up the sushi with your bare hands – in an upscale sushi restaurant no less – is totally acceptable. Chopsticks are also permissible, whether it’s rolls, nigiri or sashimi. The benefit of using your hands is that a better grip of the sushi is more plausible; you can have more control when you dip your sushi into your soy sauce.

Nigiri, sushi with usually a thin slice of raw fish on top of rice, is eaten with chopsticks. And the best manner is to first turn the nigiri on its side, and then pick it up so that one chopstick is holding the fish side and the other is holding the rice side. This way the nigiri will stay in one piece and the rice won’t fall apart.

There’s etiquette of using soy sauce. You don’t ruin the balance of flavors by over dipping. Chefs try to give you the perfect balance to enhance the flavors of the fish and the texture of the rice. So don’t douse your sushi in soy sauce. You have to trust the chef.

If you have to add soy sauce to your sushi roll, do so by gently touching the nori or seaweed on your roll to the sauce. Sometimes, people dip the rice part of the roll into the soy sauce and that can result in saturating the roll with soy sauce. So remember to dip the seaweed part of your sushi into the soy sauce, not the rice.

Usually, nigiri is served brushed with some sort of sauce. You mustn’t be adding any additional soy sauce to the nigiri served by your chef. Did you know there’s a reason chefs put sauce on your sushi, and adding soy sauce to it can detract from the flavor they were hoping you would experience.

You can mix a small portion of wasabi into your soy sauce, if in case you can only tolerate wasabi in small doses. However, if you’re eating sashimi you can put a bit of wasabi directly onto the fish.

Finally, use ginger as a palate cleanser. Chefs put ginger on the side of your sushi plate and it’s not for decoration. It serves as a palate cleanser when eaten in between different kinds of sushi rolls.

Sushi Restaurant in Bellevue

Want to know more how you can enjoy sushi best? Then let our chef at Flo tell you. Just drop by your favorite Japanese restaurant and enjoy one of the best sushi selections in Bellevue.

The Top Fish Choices That Make The Best Nigiri

Best Raw Fish For Nigiri Sushi

Nigiri sushi literally means “hand-pressed sushi.” Nigiri sushi is the small rectangular ball of rice topped with a slice of fish (sashimi). You may not be a sushi chef or expert, but there are many passionate sushi consumers who can tell the best raw fish for the best of sushi to experience and enjoy. And when you say raw fish on sushi, you mean nigiri sushi. So what are the most popular fish choices for sushi?

Bluefin tuna is at the top of the list as one of the most prized fish in Japan for its heavenly rich flavor. Most of the tuna at sushi restaurants will be hon-maguro or bluefin. However, its popularity has led to over- fishing, and the bluefin tuna species is now classified as endangered.

Japanese amberjack, also known as yellowtail, is beloved for its high fat content. It packs a unique combination of flavors due to its fat marbling. The spicy, salty, and rich yellowtail is a sushi aficionado’s guilty pleasure.

Salmon or shake is a sushi favorite and can be found in almost every sushi restaurant, both in Japan and the United States. In addition to its tasteful freshness, the salmon’s distinctive peachy color adds to its overall visual appeal. Added to that is its health-giving omega-3 fatty acids.

Mackerel is another fish packed with omega-3’s. Mackerel has a potent fishy flavor more appealing to the Japanese than to Westerners. It’s a versatile fish, four different types of mackerel are prepared and served – one of them being saba, which is cured for hours with vinegar and salt.

Squid or ika intimidates many if prepared as sushi, though as fried calamari has more fans. The squid is quite underrated, but its texture and delectable umami flavor classify it as one of the best fish for sushi.

Eel or unagi is a relatively popular fish among sushi chefs. Chefs often roast the unagi over charcoal and serve the freshwater eel brushed with a sweet soy sauce made from the simmered bones and heads of the fish. Unagi is full of vitamin B and fatty flavor.

Uni is the sea urchin’s gonads, a combination of the briny ocean taste and creamy texture which is definitely not for everyone. But sushi chefs don’t count it out. Its edible golden ovaries have a buttery texture that produces a desirable melt-in-your-mouth effect. It’s a non-fishy sushi.

We’ve Got Them All in Bellevue

At FLO, our Japanese restaurant in Bellevue, we offer some of the best fish choices for nigiri and more. Better come by and try your hand and taste buds on some of the freshest and tastiest nigiri sushi.