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Dec 15, 2012 07:59 PM

Negitoro don vs toro sushi

Is the toro in negitoro don the same quality as what you'd find for toro sushi (nigiri)? Is it even toro, or just regular tuna (maguro)? I imagine it's at least a lower quality.

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  1. Technically it shouldn't be, but all the places I have been to (e.g., Japanese grocery stores or Maru Ichi in Mountain View) almost always offer not-very-fatty tuna in their negitoro don. One advantage of serving negitoro is that a chef doesn't have to trim the tuna to make it into a pretty piece for nigiri (and remove the outside parts that are equally good in taste). In other words, if you go to a reputable sushi house, a negitoro don should still be very good (and not cheap). That's why it's more common to see a negitoro maki (roll) with much less tuna instead of a full don (rice bowl).

    1. I'm sure it depends on the preparation but as a reference, my local mitsuwa sells chu and oh toro for 40-50$/lb. They sell negitoro for under 20$/lb. There's no way those two things can be the same toro...but then...what is it?

      7 Replies
      1. re: joonjoon

        I think negi- refers to the combination with green onion or leeks and the prep is usually with mince of the given fish, e.g. negihama. for the usual hamachi-green onion rolls. I suppose then negitoro could be the scallion-mince prep based on toro; the mince is usually prepped from the trimmings of the larger pieces so can be sold at a discount. I don't know for sure as I don't buy this stuff at the market.

        1. re: twocents

          Right, negitoro is chopped up tuna with scallions mixed in. I was saying that it can't possibly be the same stuff as regular toro because of the price difference. So yeah, it must be coming from scraps. Nothing wrong with that...scraps are delicious.

        2. re: joonjoon

          Many places scrape the toro used in negi-toro off the bones - so they are parts that can't be cut up and served as sashimi/sushi. But with any other fish/meat products, flesh around the bones is delish!

          1. re: kyoko219

            Kyoko - I always figured the negitoro was the scrapings also.. but the thing is they occasionally get whole bluefins and do an event where you can buy every part of the tuna. The scrapings that come off of this isn't labeled (or made into) negitoro - it's got an entirely different name that I can't remember right now. And it's a bit more expensive than their negi toro package. Tastes quite different too (way fattier).

            I guess now that I think about it it must be scrapings but probably not from blue fin or something. Either way those scrapings are awesome and sooo delicious! Mmmmm.

            1. re: joonjoon

              I was in Osaka and Kyoto about 3 weeks ago, and I don't think I even saw "negi toro" on the menus of the lower end Japanese restaurants (even the ones that serve sushi) or even the high end sushi I went to in Osaka, nor the fish themed izakaya chains where I dined in one (e.g. the ones that are categorized as sakana ryori). Then again the locals probably consider them as scraps, not suitable for serving customers considering the shops sell sashimi and kaisendon as staples.

              There are places in Japan (e.g. outskirts of Tsukiji Tokyo Fish Market area) that sell real bluefin meat scraped off the carcass and put into sashimi or sashimi over rice, some might even serve the carcass and let you scrape it off yourself, though they look more even/appealling/sellable and not chopped up like minced/ground meat, and certainly not mixed with scallions.

              Unless the restaurant is very reputable (locally here), what is being served as negi-toro is typically questionable as to what part of the tuna was used (and what type of tuna).

              1. re: K K

                Usually at sushi restaurants in Japan, they don't list rolls on their menus. You just ask for it and they make it for you! I love the temaki-version over the rolled ones. My fave used to be himo-kyu (the outer "string" part of the red clam with cucumber strips).

              2. re: joonjoon

                joonjoon - Maybe you're thinking of "naka-ochi"? Totally agree... who knew scrapings could be so good!!!