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Editor’s Notes

Hello, this is Pocket Concierge ending team.
“Tuna” is one of everyone is favorite sushi toppings and the star of sushi. I am sure many of you order tuna when you go to a sushi restaurant.
Today, we are going to teach you how to differentiate good and bad-quality tuna.


1. Start with lean meat at sushi restaurants!

2. How does delicious tuna taste like?

3. Types of Tuna

4. How to differentiate delicious tuna

5. Before we end

Shidaigi | Pocket Concierge

1. Start with lean meat at sushi restaurants!

“Toro (fatty tuna)” and “akami (lean meat).” These are the basic two parts of the tuna
that is served at sushi restaurants.
We first was at you to try eating Akami.
The freshness is easily shown in the appearance of akami and the price is cheaper than
toro. Most restraints that serve delicious akami also serve good toro.
As for the order of eating sushi, start with light-flavored toppings like white fish, then go on to akami, silver-skinned fish, and fatty fish like toro.

2. How does delicious tuna taste like?

So how does“delicious tuna” taste like? The akami should have a pleasant umami and refreshing tart flavor. The toro should still have the umami in the akami, but also have a melt-in-your-mouth feeling.

3. Types of Tuna

Now let’s look at the different types of tuna before we learn how to differentiate the quality.
Below are the five main tuna served at sushi restaurants.

Sushi Nagashima | Pocket Concierge

Bluefin Tuna (Honmaguro)

Bluefin tuna, called kuromaguro or honmaguro in Japanese, is called the “kind of tuna” and is a representative high-class tuna.
There are a lot of ootoro (the fattiest toro) and the flavor and color is rich and dark, which makes it suitable for sushi.
The toro has fat that melts in your mouth is rich and sweet. The akami has a strong umami flavor and a slight astringent taste. Bluefin tuna allows you to enjoy different flavors depending on the part.
In the winter when it is the season, the whole tuna has fat and even the akami has a deliciousness similar to toro.

Southern bluefin tuna (Indian tuna)

Southern bluefin tuna is considered to be just as high-class as bluefin tuna. The name comes from the fact that it can be only caught in the Southern Hemisphere. It contains more fat than bluefin tuna and has a mild flavor. This is why there are people who like this tuna more than bluefin tuna. The meat is rich in iron and has a dark red color. However, some sushi restaurants do not like serving this tuna, since although the tuna has a vivid red color, the color changes quickly.

Big eye tuna

“Big eye tuna” was named this unique name, since it has a big, widely opened eye.
It is distributed the most in Japan, and is especially favored in the Kanto Region. It has less fat compared to the tow tunas introduced above, so the popularity is about third-place as a sushi topping. It does not have ootoro, the fattiest part of toro, but it has chutoro, the fattiest part of toro after ootoro and akami.

Yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna is favored in the west to the point that if you say “tuna” in Osaka, everyone will think you are talking about this tuna. It contains less fat, and has a light red color similar to pink. It is evenly lean, without any fatty toro.The tight meat and texture is ideal for sashimi since the shape does not change easily. It is refreshing and yet has umami, and is often cooked as steak or grilled fish.

Albacore tuna

“Albacore tuna” is mainly used as an ingredient for canned tuna and is easily accessible.
The color is light pink that is close to white and has an extremely light taste.
It has started to be used as a sushi topping introduced in Japan as “bintoro” since its appearance and the texture during certain seasons when it has a lot of fat is similar to toro.

Sushisho Masa | Pocket Concierge

4. How to differentiate delicious tuna

We will now show you how to differentiate delicious tuna from its appearance.
Look at the line of the muscles and the color, and you will know just by looking whether the tuna is delicious or not.

Pay attention to the line of the muscles!

Look first at the direction of the line of the muscles.
If you look at the block of tuna in the window case, look for tuna with an even white muscle line. This is a sign of a delicious tuna. Then, look for tuna with slant lines and tuna that does not stand out. These would be considered good-quality tuna. Tuna with a wide muscle line or white lines, or grain-like muscle lines have a bad texture, and the lines will remain in the mouth so avoid it.
High-quality tuna blocks turn into sashimi with a vertical muscle line.
Tuna with vertical muscles like this make delicious sushi.

Pay attention to the color!

Next, let’s learn how to differentiate good tuna from the color.
Delicious akami is luminous and slightly transparent, and has a vivid red color.
If the color is blackish or not so vivid, there is a chance that it is not so fresh anymore so you should be careful. Also, tuna that has “utare,” a red dot (blood spots) or blood lines is considered to be bad-quality tuna and is proof of that.
Although it is less easy to differentiate for toro, just as akami, look for luminous and slightly transparent toro. The more the toro shows this, the more high-quality it is.
If you think a tuna has a beautiful color, chances are that the taste is also good.

Irifune Sushi | Pocket Concierge

5. Before we end

We learned about the types of tuna that is indispensable for sushi and how to differentiate delicious tuna from its appearance. The flavor and color can significantly change depending on the type and part of the tuna. Know the characteristics, and try paying attention to the appearance of the tuna the next time you go to a sushi restaurant.


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