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Is It Okay To Buy Sushi In The Store?


BoboBrazil
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Everytime I go to the grocery store I see sushi rolls for sale and seeing that I've never had sushi I'm tempted to try them out. Has anyone else tried sushi from the grocery store? Do they usually make it fresh that same day? The only thing that has been holding me back is that I think it might not be safe to eat it. I'm interested in finding out.

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The sushi I had recently at the Wegmans supermarket in Princeton, NJ, was quite acceptable. Certainly, it was a lot better than that crap they sell at Daikichi Sushi.

I don't think you need to worry about safety. The most popular supermarket sushi items don't even contain any raw fish: California roll; cucumber roll; eel roll, shrimp, etc. Those are all made with cooked products. In terms of the raw fish items, like tuna and salmon, it has all likely been deep frozen and is therefore usually quite safe so long as it is handled properly and kept refrigerated for the day. And yes, every supermarket I know of that sells sushi starts with new inventory every day -- Wegmans, I think, makes it throughout the day, so it's never more than a couple of hours old when you buy it.

My concern would be that, as a novice sushi eater, you won't be equipped to tell whether the sushi you're getting tastes right. It would probably be better to have a first sushi experience in a real Japanese restaurant where you know you'll be getting a properly made product.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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which reminds me - i've got some california rolls covered in masago that i bought on saturday and haven't gotten a chance to eat.

i guess i will have to do the sniff test.

Edited by tryska (log)
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I once bought sushi in a Food Emporium in Manhattan. The brochure for the sushi franchisee said something like "No raw food" (or maybe had an icon with the word "raw" in a circle with a slash through it.) The salmon or tuna I had sure did look and taste raw so I've always wondered what the deal was.

Gustatory illiterati in an illuminati land.
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I strongly recommend against buying supermarket sushi as a first experience.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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We eat grocery store sushi pretty frequently, as it's convenient and certainly better for us than most other convenience foods. I wouldn't worry about it from a health point of view, and our grocery prepares fresh every day (in plain view of the customers, sort of like a sushi bar and you can place a special order from the limited repertoire). I've never had a bad batch. We don't usually save leftovers as the rice gets all dried out and gummy.

As for this being your first time, you could check with friends who are familiar with your grocer's product as well as good restaurant sushi. The absolute worst sushi I've ever eaten was from an upmarket grocery in Park City, Utah. It wasn't spoiled, it just wasn't sushi (the rice was wrong) and we threw it away (even my kids wouldn't eat it)

I'd probably do my first sushi run in a restaurant, and I'd do it with a friend. I've initiated many of my friends to sushi and sashimi, all of them now big fans. Same deal with any unfamiliar food---dim sum, vietnamese, etc. The staff will be of some help, but still limited.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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There is also a method to eating sushi that you might miss out on if you just buy it from the store on your own. (Like DON'T just pop that little green glob on the side in your mouth all at once!)

Find a sushi savvy friend to teach you the ropes. And don't forget the Saki. The grocery sushi here is just fine, they prepare it fresh daily. Had some for lunch today. But it doesn't have the same impact or flavor as our sushi bars do.

aside: Had the most AMAZING tuna tartar here last week. Middle Wisconsin does indeed have good sushi.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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It wasn't spoiled, it just wasn't sushi (the rice was wrong) and we threw it away (even my kids wouldn't eat it)

Our local grocery switched from Sushi Redi (which was passeable & I'd grab for lunch frequently) to some other brand/kit with "more variety" but turned out to be the worst quality sushi I've ever tried to choke down. The fish/seasonings were yeck, but the rice was horrible: dried out and pasty/gummy. I've never thrown sushi out before - it's practically a sin in my world, and that stuff hit the trash can after 2 pieces. I need to switch groceries...I used to grab a california roll on my way out of the store and now if I want to take care of the sushi cravings, I've got to wait for a good paycheck and willing hubby. :sad:

There is also a method to eating sushi that you might miss out on if you just buy it from the store on your own. (Like DON'T just pop that little green glob on the side in your mouth all at once!)

:laugh: It's not as minty as it looks. :blink:

Edited by megaira (log)

". . . if waters are still, then they can't run at all, deep or shallow."

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Do not, I repeat, Do not have supermarket sushi for your first experience.

Sushi is an art form and has many rituals that go along with the experience. You owe it to yourself to have the real thing.

I wish I could give you a comparison but I honestly too tired to think of one. The only thing I can think of is eating toast with butter on it the morning after you have made it. Mushy, soft and tasteless. Not worth it at all.

I tend to hit supermarkets first thing in the morning (between 7:30 and 8:30). I can't tell you how many mornings I see workers putting sushi that is from the day before ontop of the sushi that has arrived that day.

That being said, some higher end markets have people making it fresh in front of you (a few Whole Foods here in DC do it). If you have to have your first sushi experience from a supermarket, do it somewhere like this.

Good luck

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Do not, I repeat, Do not have supermarket sushi for your first experience.

Sushi is an art form and has many rituals that go along with the experience.  You owe it to yourself to have the real thing.

I wish I could give you a comparison but I honestly too tired to think of one.  The only thing I can think of is eating toast with butter on it the morning after you have made it.  Mushy, soft and tasteless.  Not worth it at all.

How about supermarket coffee vs. really good, fresh coffee?

Gustatory illiterati in an illuminati land.
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How about supermarket coffee vs. really good, fresh coffee?

Perfect!

Thanks for thinking of that one. Four hours at a pumpkin patch has turned my brain to mush.

The coffee metaphor is front and center for me because 99% of the coffee I've had in my life is supermarket or sub-supermarket and I'm sick of it and I am learning about coffee and ways to upgrade inexpensively. And of the handful of times I've had sushi, most have been from the supermarket so I could easily imagine the parallel.

Edited by hillbill (log)
Gustatory illiterati in an illuminati land.
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I but supermarket sushi all the time, hell I even buy it in convenience stores!

of course I live in Japan................ :biggrin:

I know it is a bit off topic but still relavant.

Could you talk a bit about the vending machines, including the ones that make sushi, you have in Japan. Is it true there is one that makes french fries?

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I but supermarket sushi all the time, hell I even buy it in convenience stores!

of course I live in Japan................ :biggrin:

I know it is a bit off topic but still relavant.

Could you talk a bit about the vending machines, including the ones that make sushi, you have in Japan. Is it true there is one that makes french fries?

more of a question for the Japan forum! :biggrin:

It could get lost in here....

I don't know or any vending machines that actually make things, they usually just sell them....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Go to a real Japanese restaurant with a friend whose taste you trust. Order a Chirashi platter that has a little of everything on it and prepare yourself for the experience. I've always found that the "vegetable" rolls, the tamago or omelet sushi and the basic fishes like tuna or salmon are a good "Sushi 101" for starters. Keep away from the uni, octopus, and other things that might be texturally unpleasant for a first experience. Basic incredibly fresh raw fish is what you're after for your "maiden voyage", as it were.

Enjoy! Nothing tastes bad drowned in soy and wasabi... :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
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No, I don't think so.

Sushi degrades in a few minutes after being made. The nori loses it's crispness as it absorbs moisture from the rice, and the rice starts to absorb flavors of whatever else is in the sushi. We do eat takeout sushi from a place about 10 minutes from our house, but quite frankly, I think it loses a lot even in that length of time. Sushi needs to be made in front of you and handed to you, a few pieces at a time. I have bought supermarket sushi on occasion-God help us in California, my corner market actually has a sushi chef in a little booth- but it is so unsatisfying compared to the real thing it rarely, if ever, appeals. It is a handy lunch while driving-that's about the only use for it.

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We do eat takeout sushi from a place about 10 minutes from our house, but quite frankly, I think it loses a lot even in that length of time. Sushi needs to be made in front of you and handed to you, a few pieces at a time.

I agree.. I'll grab the supermarket sushi for a quick fix/lunch and we've bought a fair amount of takeout sushi (there's an explanation to that, but it's well beside the point and not food related) and the quality of takeout vs. dine in is very, very different.

The best I can sum it up is:

3-4$ for a california roll to munch from the grocery store is the equivelant of a sub or burger from a fast food joint - you're not expecting quality, it's just the toothpaste spackle in the hole, so to speak.

40$ on takeout sushi often leaves you full and feeling good for a couple minutes, but ultimately feeling like you spent too much money.

60$ (maybe more depending on who's having saki) on dine in sushi at a good place doesn't seem like much at all. You walk out feeling quite content and there's no question of "was that worth it?" It was. I've heard people describe a contented glow after eating sushi - I'm not sure if it's really the food or the power of suggestion, but I feel that way often.

I would suggest for the first few times to sit at the sushi bar and order as you eat - you can talk with the sushi chef, he can offer you recommendations... if you end up loving it, on subsequent visits, you won't end up (like us) ordering more than you can reasonably eat when you're at the bar, vs. sitting at a table.

Hub & I both love sushi. We go on sprees - we don't have any for months, then go in, foolishly sit at a table insted of the bar and always overdo it. Taking leftovers home from a night like that somehow takes away from the whole thing - you've just had wonderful, freshly prepared sushi... then, at midnight, you're in the fridge munching on the remains, which are if anything, only an echo of what you had earlier. It's like cinderella sitting on the pumpkin after the ball. "an hour ago, this was such a nice carriage..."

www.stickyrice.com is a nifty page to check out.

Also, just an fyi, if/when you do get around to trying Uni (sea urchin) -the pinkish/orange stuff is NOT sea urchin gonads. It's sea urchin roe. I have no idea where I originally heard that story, but it seems to be a popular one that goes around. I'm sure the more popularity sushi gains in the states, the more urban legends will pop up about it.

Edited by megaira (log)

". . . if waters are still, then they can't run at all, deep or shallow."

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