View Full Version : Grocery store sushi. Abomination or good practice for the real thing?

05-10-2006, 09:01 PM
So, I've been trying to eat different things than my usual slab of cow and a potato. Now and then I pick up one of those plastic containers of pre-made sushi. Most often it's the strictly veggie kind or perhaps the ones with the fake crab in them. I dig the wasabi and soya sauce and I know darn well I'm not even close to observing any kind of sushi etiquette when I chow these things down. How much better is the real thing in a real live sushi joint? Is what I'm eating even a reasonable approximation or something I should regret admitting I've eaten?

05-10-2006, 09:09 PM
Many kinds of supermarket sushi that I've tried are hideous abominations.

However, I have three supermarkets where I actually like their sushi:

The ones I actually like, in order of preference:
1. Whole Foods at Fresh Pond, Cambridge MA
2. Roche Brothers, Westwood MA
3. Whole Foods Central Square, Cambridge MA

and the Roche Bros in Burlington MA makes a fantastic squid salad, but their sushi is just meh. Their fresh water eel is downright icky. Fresh water eel is something I usually love.

05-10-2006, 09:12 PM
I was going to start a similar thread recently, more on the "abomination" side. Mostly because I hate hate hate mock crab. What is that horrible pink crab salad that they stick in the rolls anyway? But I started out with the grocery store stuff. Good sushi is easily a thousand times better.

Be aware that you don't usually get the big kinds of sushi (or maki rolls) in grocery stores unless it is a high-end type of place. For the price you usually pay, you should just go to a restaurant.

05-10-2006, 09:22 PM
Grocery store sushi isn't necessarily bad but I would not say it is very good, either as most varieties I've had have been really bland and bordering on tasteless, especially if you eat it soon after buying it since it will still be chilled from its stay in the refrigerated unit it was stored in.

Plus, the selection is often limited. California rolls and ebi are okay but they pale in comparison to unagi, tako, spider rolls, toro, and even inari and tamago which, despite their simplicity, I've never noticed in any grocery selling sushi.

05-10-2006, 09:29 PM
At the grocery stores I shop at (generally Giant and Harris Teeter, but occasionally Whole Foods), the sushi's not great, but it's good enough to make do between trips to an actual sushi restaurant.

05-10-2006, 09:30 PM
I've had sushi at all three of those supermarkets. :)

Supermarket sushi isn't that bad, not fantastic (like JP Seafoods) but serviceable. I have it at least once a week, usually salmon or tuna, and it's quite a nice snack for lunch. I stay away from the California rolls or all veggie sushi, frankly it's just not worth the price. You can get a big salad for that price

05-10-2006, 09:30 PM
Depends on the grocery store. If the sushi chef is standing right there, and will make you a tray to order (as he is at most grocery stores I shop at that offer sushi) - probably not bad, but a limited selection and "toned down" (i.e. mock crab, california rolls, tuna and salmon - but none of the scary stuff). If its in a box and there isn't even a sushi prep station nearby (i.e. its been shipped in from offsite), save it and hit the real stuff.

05-10-2006, 09:30 PM
here in the Phily 'burbs we have Genuardi's, a food market chain, and they have an authentic sushi chef in the food court... they have pre-packaged rolls, but i order sushi rolls and they make them fresh... not top-notch, but not bad at all, and quite reasonable price-wise...

05-10-2006, 09:40 PM
Yes, "Kroger Sushi" ... it's alright as snack food. But real sushi is prepared in real time.

So here is a "real sushi guide".

In no particular order:

1. Sushi refers to the vinegar rice, not the toppings or fillings.

2. The raw stuff can be eaten by itself as sashimi, best served on some sort of plate with shaved ice.

3. The sushi, sashimi and such can be characterized by texture(chewy,firm, soft, squishy), heat(thai-heat, spicy, not spicy), flavour(sweet, sour, smoked), preparation(cooked, raw, smoked) and fishiness(strong smell, mild smell, no smell).

You can save yourself much ickiness by planning your preferences, rather than deciding in advance in specific items. Your server can help you pick your items once you have indicated your preferences in 3.

4. There are two correct beverages to be consumed with sushi: Green Tea(Hot) and Sake(Hot or Cold, depending on the season, label and occasion). The proper way to serve tea is with a pot, wielded either by yourself or by your server. If you get a non-Japanese style mug with a tea-bag to dunk, then they're getting it wrong.

5. Not every sushi type is a roll. Nigiri is a topping attached to a finger-sized bit of sushi rice, frequently secured with a thin strip of nori(sea weed), and with a bit of wasabi between the topping and the rice. Maki is the roll, with the innermost layer the filling, then the sushi rice, then an outer layer of nori. Gunkan Maki is special type of "cup": the bottom is sushi rice, the sides are nori, and the "cup" is filled with a topping. Gunkan Maki is usually called "Ikura"(which refers to a type of fish egg that frequently serves as filling for the Gunkan Maki). Temaki is a hand roll, where a sheet of nori is lined with sushi, then rolled into an open, cone-shaped creature, with toppings crammed in. Chirashi is basically sushi-rice salad, with the fish and rice tossed together in a bowl or box. My personal favourite is hako-zushi or Osaka-zushi (pressed sushi): this type is a layered sushi, with the rice on bottom, then the stuff, then seaweed and avocado layers on top, pressed. Then as a finish, usually some type of seasoning, sauce and/or roe is used as a final topping.

6. If you must use soy/pickled ginger/wasabi, do it sparingly. And dip the nigiri into the soy sauce topping side down: the soy/pickled ginger/wasabi goes on top, not in the rice.

7. Begin your meal with two items: Tamago nigiri and Edamame salad.

8. Good "virgin/newbie" sushi choices: Tamago, Kani, Smoked Salmon, White Tune(Hiromaguro). Be sure to get the side of sesame seed/oil with the white tuna. In some places, they'll offer you Albacore, which is also good.

05-10-2006, 09:41 PM
The local supermarket sushi here in SE Florida is pretty decent IMHO. Maybe being a coastal city helps.

05-10-2006, 10:35 PM
Thanks for all the replies. The stuff I get is purely pre-packaged shipped in from somewhere unknown. I've never seen anybody in the store preparing it. Perhaps I'll get brave and try a real sushi place. I'll have to print out your tips to bring along with me cerberus.

05-11-2006, 12:24 AM
IF I was a woman, I would suggest that grocery store sushi is like sucking a dildo with a rubber on it. But I'm not. So I won't.

Seriously, avoid that crap. Fake fish in dry, crusty seaweed caked in weeks-old rice.

All the things that make "sushi" bad to the casual observer.

You wanna eat sushi? Put the "raw fish" idea out of your mind and go eat some. Like and orgasm for your pallet. Bliss!

One of these days, I'm gonna take my own advice and eat my cat. 100 million world citizens can't be wrong. :D

Rachael Rage
05-11-2006, 12:40 AM
I just want to second or third the notion that fake crab (a frequent ingredient in supermarket sushi - and unfortunately in a number of "legit" sushi places as well) is worse than nothing. Please, do not judge your like or dislike of "sushi" on that garbage.

That said, if you've liked supermarket sushi, you are surely going to like real sushi a whole lot better. You might want to start by ordering the real equivalent to whatever you were eating from the grocery store, then branching out to other morsels based on what pleases you.

05-11-2006, 01:15 AM
All the grocery stores around here that have sushi have in-house sushi chefs that make it during the day. Plenty of actual fish (not just fake crab and veggies).

Some of it's ok, but in general it tends to be a bit dry. And, I don't really like the rice they use as much as the rice you tend to get at restaurants; it's a bit more tangy, which gets in the way of the fish flavor, IMO.

05-11-2006, 04:30 AM
If you're not sure as to what kind of sushi you might like, you could always try one of those running sushi places, where you can pick and choose different dishes and are not stuck with an order of 16 rolls, 15 of which you don't like. You might take a friend along who definitely likes sushi, so they can eat those you decide you don't like that much.

When I started eating sushi, I found that the "inside-out" rolls were somewhat easier on my non-accustomed palate. Try a "california roll", or as recommended by cerberus, any roll with salmon or tuna.

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