Person Behind The Place: Charles Celestial

September 21, 2021 - by Sandy Vo


Categories: Heart of Bellevue Person Behind the Place

Person Behind The Place:
Charles Celestial

Executive Chef | Japonessa Sushi Cocina

At 16, Charles Celestial started in the kitchen of a famous Philippines restaurant called Kinabuhayan Café. After building his reputation and skillset, he made the big move to the states and got the opportunity to hone his craft with renowned Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto. From California to Bellevue, Celestial forged a home in the Pacific Northwest and quickly climbed his way to Executive Chef at Japonessa Sushi Cocina. His dedication through the years has garnered him wide recognition in the culinary field and many satisfied customers. We sat down with Celestial and discussed the unique essence of Japonessa and his favorite spots around Downtown Bellevue.

How does Japonessa differ from other sushi restaurants around town?

We offer a selection of freshly caught fish - I would say some of the freshest fish in the state. The flavor we serve at Japonessa is incredibly unique. When you have something like sushi, the flavor can be straightforward with just fish and rice. We blend and fuse Japanese flavors with the spices of Latin America. It marries together perfectly!

What is something unique on the menu?  

One of the coolest things we make is garlic ponzu sauce, which combines a citrusy soy sauce with garlic extract to create a memorable “wow” flavor. Japanese recipes aren't usually known for such potent flavors like garlic so that’s something super different, along with our varied collection of sake!

What do you recommend off the menu?

Try anything with our strawberry habanero sauce. It has a gentle, sweet side with a powerful, spicy kick in the finish. Or put your trust in the chef and order  his personal pick, an assortment of sashimi omakase to broaden your pallette and taste something different!

What do you love about working downtown?

I love the energy, especially when our tables are full, people are hungry and excited to dine with us. It really lifts our spirits to see people lined up outside.

Any favorite spots in Downtown that you love?

Old Bellevue is a pretty cool spot. If I have time to walk around, I'll go there and browse. The original, historic areas are more interesting to me. I recommend checking out Dote Coffee Bar, they serve great espresso and boozy drinks.

What attractions in Bellevue are on your TO SEE list?

When I have more time on hand, I hope to visit the Bellevue Botanical Garden and scope out Bellevue Downtown Park to its full extent someday. I love the outdoors; especially when its conveniently around every corner in our city!


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Person Behind the Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.

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Japonessa Sushi Cocina
500 Bellevue Way
Bellevue, WA 98004

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