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Sushi Novice

I have only had sushi from supermarkets (Roche Brothers, Whole Foods, etc.). I like the sushi at Whole Foods, I was just wondering, is there a big difference in taste or quality say from Whole Foods compared to a Sushi restaurant? I feel like a bit of an idiot asking this question but am I missing out?

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  1. Yes! There's really no comparison. Unfortunately, there is no universally liked sushi place in Boston. Our favorite is Blue Fin in the Porter exchange in Cambridge. Their fish is excellent (barring a few bad nights, none recently) and the rice is pretty good. I'd stick to basics, nigiri and one or two ingredient rolls for the first time. Blue fin doesn't have too much in the way of fru-fru rolls though. Give it a try and you can see what you've been missing.

    (NB this was moved from the Boston board AS I was composing my response, thus the Boston centric response)

    1. I think there is a difference, both in the quality of the fish and the freshness and quality of the rice, and also in the variety of offerings. Once you go to a good sushi restaurant you may be spoiled for supermarket sushi.

      I also think that this is probably a topic for the General Chowhound Topics board. Requests for recommendations of Boston-area sushi restaurants are what we'd discuss here. So I will give you such a recommendation: Toraya on Mass Ave in Arlington, opposite Arlington High School. Not high-end like Oiishi or Clio, but very, very good, traditional sushi.

      1. Oh dear god yes. No comparison.

        1. The diffenence is apples and trucks. I refuse to eat supermarket sushi.

          1 Reply
          1. re: slade

            I eat it in a pinch - while doing my grocery shopping! Oh - and yes, yes, yes - there is a huge difference.

          2. Aside from the initial difference of quality, there's a difference in freshness.

            If you have sushi delivered from a restaurant there will still be a fall-off in quality.

            Nothing beats sushi freshly made. Even in the time delivery takes, there will be deterioration.

            1. The best thing for you to do is go to a sushi restaurant (be aware that they're often quite expensive -- post on your local board and give people a price limit and they can help you better in finding a destination) and find out for yourself.

              Sit at the bar -- don't be intimidated, half the people around you couldn't tell you what they're eating -- and tell the chef you've never had sushi before. (You really haven't.) Ask him what's good, and let him guide you. Don't be afraid to ask how to eat it, and don't be afraid to say things like "I liked this one better than the last one."

              I know it sounds all foo-foo and VERY Los Angeles... but you will have a fantastic meal that you won't forget!

              A lot of people get caught up in rules and etiquette and really are hoping to have a religious experience rather than a restaurant meal. Don't worry about it. Be courteous to the sushi chef, show you care what he's talking about and what he's doing, thank him, and tip well, and you'll be fine.

              1. oh, yes there's a huge difference! if you like sushi from whole foods then you'll love restaurant sushi. it's like you've been driving a used ford escort then one day hopping into a fully loaded brand new benz (granted you go to a good place) . ok, maybe it won't be that good but...of course you spend more but the upgrade is worth the money.

                1. One of the things I hate about supermarket sushi is the temperature (and thus the consistency) of the rice.

                  Sushi should be made when the rice is still warm. In supermarkets, that's hardly ever the case.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Covert Ops

                    In full agreement re: temperature. Sushi is always at its best when super fresh. In fact its the deterioration of the rice that is most disapointing in "store bought". It completely dries out.

                  2. In descending order of quality:

                    Sushi restaurant sushi
                    Chinese buffet sushi where there's an actual sushi chef

                    (And WAAAAY down there...)

                    Chinese buffet sushi that's just put out in a pan
                    Grocery store sushi (except sometimes you just GOTTA have some sushi.)

                    I can't afford a sushi restaurant, most days, but a decent buffet sometimes surprises me with a very acceptable product.

                    1. Whole Foods's sushi department is the only raw-fish option within (reasonable summertime) walking distance from my current office, so I feel compelled to go that route every now and then.

                      The fish is never transcendent, but the simple ones (salmon, tuna) can be decent. The rice, however, is always an abomination -- hard, dry, crumbly, and flavorless. For that reason, I wouldn't ever recommend sushi from a grocery store. Basic sashimi is the way to go. The seaweed salad at Whole Foods makes a decent accompaniment.

                      Oh, and yes, please do yourself the huge favor of finding a reputable sushi joint in your neighborhood and paying them a visit.

                      1. Not only are there differences between market sushi and sushi restaurants but differences between sushi bar and getting a sushi assortment at a table.

                        When you order a hand-rolled sushi at the bar, you'll notice the chef toasting the nori (seaweed) used as the wrap. Biting into a hand-rolled with a crisp or soggy nori makes a huge difference in the pleasure meter.

                        1. I do not understand why anyone would eat sushi from a supermarket. We are talking about a food that if not handled vry properly will cause some serious digeestive issues. Would people eat tuna tartare or beef carpaccio from someone in the store? I hope not.

                          Sitting at the sushi bar is a great experience. I agee with all that recommend. First of all the chef wants toplease you. Tell him that you are new at it. Ask for a couple of pieces and then tell him what you liked or did not like abut each. He will send the next few pieces by what you told him. For example I am in a big minority on Uni, can't eat it. Others think it's the best. More toro for me.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jfood

                            In the abstract, I agree with you, jfood -- supermarket sushi ought not to be allowed, because it's clearly dangerous.

                            The problem is that I have lots of empirical evidence that it isn't -- for one thing, most sushi sold in supermarkets is cooked or vegetarian -- ebi, eel, cucumber, avocado, etc. Some isn't, but all of that is flash-frozen and then thawed. (So is most fish at a sushi restaurant.)

                            I don't know anyone that's had anything worse than indigestion from supermarket sushi -- and frankly, you can get indigestion from things kept hot, like that mysterious rubbery Kraft Dinner-type pasta dish.

                          2. I do not know anyone who has been very ill either, but the comfort zone seems to be getting wider. DU, not sure what your seeing out west but in CT the stores are getting much more adventurous. Whereas two years ago, u r right in tht it was basically cooked stuff, now they seem to have all kinds of raw. Scares me a little.

                            To your comment on the quality, I agree. I was in a very high end sushi bar in Boston and they took out a piece of tuna which was still in its cryovac wrapper. Sorta took the high end out of my eyes. This should have been done out of eye-sight.