18 Best Things to Do in Bellevue, WA

FLO Restaurant | Bellevue Japanese Restaurant

18 Best Things to Do in Bellevue, Washington

Updated on February 25, 2016 by VacationIdea Staff

“Flo is very Japanese, from the elegant simplicity of the décor to the artistry of the bento boxes they put together for your lunch. This very traditional sushi restaurant and sake bar offers a large selection of sushi and sashimi that shows true respect for the simplicity sushi represents, with the freshest possible ingredients, authentic Japanese condiments, and a few nods to the Western palate they cater to. This fine balance between Japanese tradition and Western taste is uniquely Flo’s.

There is enough for the Japanese food connoisseurs and purists – try horenso gomae (wilted spinach with shaved bonito and roasted black sesame) – and Westerner’s favorites such as the California roll or the Washington Roll, a local favorite. If you want to really give yourself a treat, go for Omakase, the chef’s choice with a sake pairing.”


425 Magazine


Posted on April 28th, 2014 | By Ethan Chung

Story and Photos by Ethan Chung

Flo Restaurant and Sake Bar opened in 2003 just as Bellevue was beginning to boom, but certainly before the city raised its restaurant stakes with the arrival of spots like El Gaucho, Monsoon East and John Howie Steak that already had well-established roots in Seattle. Flo is an original, at least in the minds of its owners, Steve and Jia Mookin. “There were lots of challenges, especially in Bellevue at that time. The style was difficult to accept,” Steve said. The style he speaks of defines Flo — simple, yet elegant. Refined, but accessible. Authentic enough in its offerings to please well-traveled diners, but gentle enough in its foray into fusion so as to not muddy the waters of that authenticity.

That style remains today, and it’s a big part of what’s made the restaurant so successful. Readers of 425 magazine voted Flo as Best Sushi in this year’s Best of 425 poll. The Mookins are busier than ever with the restaurant and a constant influx of requests for catering and private events. How have they managed to keep this going for more than 10 years? Steve says effort is at the heart of Flo, and that comes from Jia. Steve has a background in real estate and finance, but the couple didn’t have any experience in running a restaurant before Flo. He was well aware of the high failure rate of restaurants. He knew the risks. “What pushed me as a business person was Jia. I told her if you really want this, show me. And she did. She worked. She hosted. She served. She learned every aspect of the business. Jia’s vision was clear. Her effort convinced me,” he said.

But success in a restaurant can’t happen with effort alone. It must have good food, and Flo has plenty to offer. If you’re looking for traditional sushi, Flo is one of the best bets on the Eastside. “We don’t go off track with sushi. It’s very traditional. Our head sushi chef worked under Shiro-san,” Steve said. If you didn’t know, Shiro Kashiba owns Shiro’s, which is arguably Seattle’s best and most highly acclaimed sushi restaurant. “The goal with the sushi is to keep it simple. Don’t mask it.”

Are you a sushi novice? Steve says not to be intimidated. “Talk to your sushi chef. Ask them questions. Tell them what you like and what you don’t like. They can make something for you. They want you to have a good meal.”

Other non-sushi authentic standouts dot the hot and cold appetizer menu and include chawanmushi (hot egg custard served with shitake mushrooms, shrimp, spinach and gingko nut); nasu dengaku (grilled Japanese eggplant with house made sweet miso sauce, shaved bonito and sesame and horenso gomae (wilted spinach with roasted black sesame and shaved bonito).

Popular entree items include black cod (marinated in house-made saikyo miso sauce, broiled and served with enoki mushrooms) and seafood dynamite (bay scallops mixed with snow crab, asparagus, fresh shitake mushrooms and a creamy spicy sauce, broiled until golden). Flo also offers specialty seasonal dishes like tiger shrimp risotto.

Bellevue has grown up around Flo over the past decade, and the restaurant has seen its customer base evolve with the city. Steve sees plenty of new faces every day with out-of-towners traveling for work and business people brokering deals over a sushi power lunch. But Steve and Jia see repeat guests all the time. They know people by name. They’ve watched their customers’ kids — and their own — grow up at the sushi bar. Steve says in a perfect world, maybe they’d open a second location or a new restaurant. But for now, the couple seems quite content with the pace of things. “I like that this place is a true mom and pop. We want to keep it that way.”

Read Article Here



March 26, 2004
by James Goldsmith

So many choices give FLO a strong advantage in Bellevue
I’d been looking, hoping for an excellent contemporary Japanese restaurant not far from home, maybe toward the north end of downtown Bellevue. Didn’t matter if it were off the mainstream, even in the retail level of a condominium complex. Just so it was special.

Then I found FLO (as in flow). What a nice name. Just try to make it sound unattractive. Can’t. “Where you wanna go?” “I wanna go to FLO!” “Why go to FLO?” “Because, Joe, don’t you know, FLO is special.”

Or so they claim. Beyond sushi, we have our “Cold Specialties” and our “Hot Specialties,” and that’s before we’ve even perused “Special Selections,” and “Today’s Specials!”

Thing is, they’re right. The experience, from the sleek decor (the wall behind the sushi bar looks like a vertical version of curvy raked sand from a Japanese garden) to the patient service to the soothing music ranging from Chet Baker and soft jazz to Hawaiian.

Am I the only one who tends to get flustered when ordering many small plates of food? Recently at FLO, I nearly blew my coolant gasket trying for a spread that would offer complementary variety.

Seattle Weekly


June 4 – 10, 2003
by Hasan Jafri

Sushi, sake, and fusion how it spose to be.

When I walked into FLO the other night, my initial reaction was semimasen, semimasen (roughly, “Dear, oh dear, yet another sake and sushi bar”). But I was premature. Hokusai’s Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa isn’t on display here as in most places Nipponaise, but FLO grabs you like a rip tide anyway. Bellevue’s newest Japanese restaurant has been open since February, offering great service and a sake list that FLOws like a geisha’s love poem to wine consumed with good friends in a spare, well-lighted place.

There’s a sake for every wallet, and every liver. Hang out at the long sleek bar and sip Ozeki sake ($4 per glass) while you wait for your table. This popular libation from California is served hot. Or if you’re feeling traditional and super flush, go for a “super premium” Japanese sake from Hokkaido or Hiroshima, with prices ranging from $20 to $120 per bottle. Drink slowly, and drink lots of water, too. Sake hits suddenly and without warning.

When you’re ready to eat, you’ll note that the innovative menu bears the combined influence of Japan, Korea, Hawaii, and (no snide remark here) blossoming Bellevue! All in one little meal. Semimasen semimasen again? No, not so fast. True, we don’t need more fusion, but bear with the kitchen. You won’t be disappointed. This is honest fusion. Proprietor Jia Mooko is Korean. Her husband, Steve, is Japanese. They both spent time in Hawaii and their menu showcases their love of many cuisines.

Dinner specials change with some regularity. We had kushiyaki ($9.50), pan-seared scallops wrapped with bacon and served with a light balsamic vinegar sauce. The pièce de résistance was a crispy salmon steak ($12.50), encrusted with curried rice kernels and served with a peppy wasabi cream that will leave your taste buds in awe. Very hot.

Traditionalists must try the yamakake ($8.50), two kinds of seaweed and shredded potato served with a raw quail’s egg (call ahead to see if it’s available and reserve some; it’s a favorite among FLO’s Japanese clienetele and sells out quickly). The restaurant also features a full wine list, as well as the usual Japanese beers-Kirin, Kirin Ichiban, Asahi, and Sapporo-as well as a full range of sushi.

But no matter what you eat or drink, you won’t forget the food. Occupying the ground FLOor of a building full of unsold condos, FLO’s location is very Bellevue Today (the nearby Hooters branch shut its doors the Saturday before Easter), but that just confirms Bellevue’s pre-eminence as Seattle’s new melting pot.