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Gelson's Century City is Now Serving Frozen Sushi - I Hate This Place

We all have dark, dirty secrets and mine is that when I'm really tired and have worked a really long day, I'll pick up take-out sushi from Gelson's in Century City.

Gelson's Century City has been under a remodel for a couple of months and the remodel is finally complete. I picked up some sushi tonight and noticed a sign I had never seen before in the sushi case stating that the fish was kept at a certain temperature (I forgot which) for the sake of freshness. Picked up a crab roll, took it home, and yup, it was frozen. The crab was frozen; the rice was frozen. It was inedible. I don't know if you are supposed to stick it in your microwave for a few minutes, or perhaps buy it, go to a movie at the theatres at the mall and by the time you are finished with the movie, your sushi will be defrosted. Well, supermarket sushi is vile anyway and perhaps this is the universe's way of saying I shouldn't be eating it.

On the subject of Gelson's, I shop there because it is convenient and there are never long lines, but I just hate the place. Other than paper towels and the like, they never have anything I really want.

For a supposedly upscale store, they don't carry one brand of decent butter; they have virtually no organic produce; their wine selection is unimaginative and overpriced and you cannot even buy whole wheat pita for goodness' sake. The selection is just dull and pitiful.

Don't know if the other Gelson's are as bad, but I just hate the Century City store.

P.S. They are now carrying, at an exorbitant price, cakes and cookies from Sweet Lady Jane's in West Hollywood. The ones I tried were sickening - overly sweet. And I just noticed that all of them except the brownies have trans fats in them, which the U.S. government will get around to banning one day.

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  1. I'm a Gelson's fan over here. Treat me well, stock your shelves, and offer a clean store and I'm there. I've been shopping at Gelson's for 31 years and I do pick things up occasionally at Farmer's markets and other stores, but Gelson's customer service will keep me there. I regularly shop in Encino.
    I suggest you return the sushi or bring in your receipt and have a talk with the manager. I'm sure you'll get a refund and they'll be re-adjusting their case temperature. They do too big a business in take-out to have unhappy customers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: compucook

      I really don't think the temperature of the sushi was an accident. They had a large sign, which I hadn't seen prior to the remodeling, which announced the temperature of the sushi. I guess it just didn't compute in my mind that the temperature equaled frozen. It looks like they changed sushi suppliers as well.

    2. the one in the marina is weak.

      1. I too have been repeatedly unimpressed by Gelson's. Clueless staff is especially irksome. I don't expect much from staff at a national chain or even small independent mom n' pop that barely gets by. But at a "fancy" place that touts its status as a "high end" market, I expect the staff to know one cheese from another, and I expect to be able to exchange my glass milk bottle for $1.10 without having to stand around waiting at an empty kiosk for 10 minutes ("oh, just wait over there" the cashier pointed, without ever calling anyone over the intercom to come assist).

        And ditto to all of otomosando's comments about everything. I've never found decent bread or anything worth paying a premium for at Gelson's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pei

          We exchange our milk bottles at Vons/Pavillion and Whole Foods without any problems... And to stay On topic, I never liked Gelson's either. Most of my exposure has been to the Pasadena one and it always left me kinda frustrated in it's selection and set up... I MUCH perfer bristol farms...


        2. I love Gelson's..the produce is top notch, meat is good, and the service is the best in any S.Cal supermarket.

          I would seriously tell the manager, or go on the website and comment on the Sushi in their "comments" section. I've done that before, and gotten a very quick reply and good results, like th time I asked them to chop the broccoli and the cauliflower on the salad bar into smaller pieces!

          The problem with the cookies and cakes were Sweet lady jane's., NOT Gelsons's.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Diana

            I disagree that the problem with the Sweet Lady Jane's is Sweet Lady Jane's and not Gelson's. In fact, the Sweet Lady Jane's issue typifies exactly what is wrong with Gelson's.

            In Century City, they have a huge display case with Sweet Lady Jane's atrocities. We are talking a large refrigerated display case holding just this stuff. And yet, didn't the Gelson's buyer taste the stuff before dedicating all this real estate to it? If Gelson's really wants to carry this and people really want to spend $7 for a piece of not very tasty cake laden with trans fats, I really don't care, but for the fact that Gelson's never seems to carry any brand or variety of anything that I really want (space, I bet they would tell me). They are just clueless.

            1. re: omotosando

              Have you spoken to the manager or used the online Gelson's comment board to REQUEST the stuff you want? Try it. They are probably clueless to youur private wants because you have never shared them. Gelsons has good customer service and tri to make people happy, when the people take the time to expalin what they want.

              It is wrong to complain about a store not carrying anything when you don't ask them to.

              Sweet lady jane is a suprememly popular bakery (although I don't know why..I hate it myself) probably this popularity is why Gelson's is carrying it.

          2. I don't care for the Northridge location. Customer service there is pretty weak.

            2 Replies
            1. re: deana

              I really like the Gelson's in Northridge. I have found good customer service and very helpful and polite checkers. But, like all markets, they carry what they carry, and rarely change.

              I'll go to Trader Joe's for some things, Whole Foods for others. I even shop once in a while at Von's and Ralph's. And you can't beat the lox at Costco!!! There is no one perfect market for everyone, and for me, there is close to perfection in three or four (or more ) markets.

              1. re: deana

                I like the Northridge location. I live right near Whole Foods but will often make the drive to Gelson's because the produce is much better, their salad bar is much better and cleaner. They carry live lobsters which Whole Foods doesn't and they steam them for you quickly. I've found the fish to me more reliable at Gelson's, I got some bad trout from Whole Foods on one occasion. Both are way overpriced on the meat, I usually go to How's for that.

              2. Even if you think it wasn't an accident, call the manager and tell them it's unacceptable. If you remain silent, they will take it as assent and it will remain frozen. And yes, supermarket sushi is vile, but some is better than others. Whilst you wait for the clue to be delivered, Whole Foods' sushi is probably the best of the supermarket variety... or Costco.

                I shop at the Valley Village Gelson's, and less often at the one in the Yuppie Fores...er...Calabasas. The stores really do vary wildly -- I haven't experienced the cluelessness at either of those stores, but I have at the Sherman Oaks branch.

                You're paying for the service -- the no lines, the people wandering to answer questions (even if they're clueless), the people who are lurking outside to take the cart away before it can damage your precious Lincoln Navigator.

                The produce at the Valley Village one is better-quality than, say, Ralphs. The stock, I've found, is the same as any decent Vons, but the difference is that if they carry, say, the Dreyer's "Half the Calories" ice cream substitute, Vons will have four flavours and Gelson's will have twelve. If they carry apples, Vons will have four types and Gelson's will have ten. If they carry Chunky Soup, Vons will have eight kinds and Gelson's will have twenty.

                That, the lack of waiting, and the Viktor Benes bakeries in the larger branches, are the reasons to shop at Gelson's.

                Well, there's also the scenery -- rich young housewives shopping in form-fitting terrycloth yoga pants -- but I digress, and you can get the same type of scenery at the Pavilions in Rancho Santa Suburbia or the 3rd/La Brea TJ's.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I'm with Ubergeek, and I shop at the same store. The produce is better than Vons or Albertson's. The store is neater and carries a better selection of upscale products. But a major factor that draws me to the store is ... Dr. Bob's Ice Cream. Really Dark Chocolate.

                  Incidentally, the Gelson's baguettes are quite good, and those at Mayfair/Gelson's on Franklin in Hollywood are spectacularly good, particularly if you get them warm.

                2. Tell them it is unacceptable. They have very good customer service and they will listen. Gelsons excels in a few very specific areas and shop at the store for those reasons alone. As an aside, Gelsons is the only chain from which I have never purchased rotten food from.

                  Meanwhile, accept this as a sign from the universe that sushi from a supermarket is a very bad idea.

                  1. I've worked in Century City,years ago; 'twas ever thus. The CC Gelson's has a damn near captive audience there, who have little choice but to tolerate them, their prices, and practices as the only grocery store within walking distance.

                    I also live roughly half a mile from the Hyperion/Griffith park Bl., former-Mayfair location. They've got a much tougher job, and it shows; they're right across the street from a TJ's. In response, they've upped their ante on bakery, produce, ready-to-eat food, and liquor. The free market sometimes works. Am I willing to pay their price for picture-perfect produce? (I think, sometimes, that Gelson's is where young "food stylists" must go to apprentice; where else is a produce guy (or gal) expected to stack apples while finding each apple's "best side"?) Sometimes, when I NEED picture-perfect produce. Not when I'm makin' stew, though.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                      Gosh, I used to live right there when it was Mayfair. On Evans Street.

                    2. gelsons.
                      what i like:
                      1) the gelato at century city

                      2) the fact, that they are always stocked in the stuff they do carry.
                      there is no hit or miss here. if i want the haagen daz light cherry truffle fudge ice cream, they will have it in stock, same story with the silk soymilk 'enhanced' version. that is not the case with ralphs, or any of the other chains (this includes bristol farms).

                      3)on quite a number of items, i find their prices are cheaper than ralphs and albertsons.

                      4) you NEVER seen dented cans on the shelves. once when i was at ralphs, waiting in the check-out line, i noticed some of the cans in my cart were dented. instead of paying for them, i gave them to the store/manager checker who promptly had them returned to the shelves. that simply doesn't happen at gelsons.

                      what i don't like:
                      1) i feel their produce dept is weak.
                      why, oh why, don't they stock organic produce?

                      2) the items that they choose to stock overlap too much with ralphs/vons/albertsons. too much kraft/keebler/campbells/agribusiness type stuff.

                      1 Reply
                      1. This Gelson's has a few things that I personally like:

                        - 6 packs of Coke in bottles. Sometimes hard to find.
                        - White grapefruit. Also sometimes hard to find.
                        - And....my favorite kind of raspberry jam from England. I haven't seen it anywhere else.

                        It's also clean, never has a line, and the clerks are friendly. I don't go there very often, as Bristol Farms, Ralphs, and Vons are closer, but I'll pop in whenever I run out of jam.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: scoot

                          A produce guy at Gelson's in Silver Lake cut open a $5.00 bag of yellow onions the other day when I asked if they had any that weren't in bags, as I didn't need a bag of yellow onions, and just handed me one.
                          They regularly give my kid banana's, pieces of orange, etc.

                          1. re: alison

                            Yeah, the produce people at this location are super nice. Almost every time I'm there (at least once a week) one of the guys gives me a bit of something to try. And the checkers are super sweet too, often won't even charge me for something if it's just one little thing (like 1 pepper, for example.)

                        2. I actuallly quite like some of the prepared foods in the deli section like the Thai grilled salmon. Most of the choices are fresh and a step above other market's prepared foods.

                          1. Gelson's will refund you for your sushi. I once bought sushi at the CC location that was inedible. I called them up. The next time I came in, weeks later, they gave me credit. Same thing with Horizon Organic chocolate milk that was spoiled well before the sell by date.

                            1. I agree that many times Ralphs is much higher priced on regular shelf items. Gelson's milk and dairy products are usually longer dated than Ralphs. More than once or twice at Ralph's the milk is on it's sell buy date or two days away.
                              Our daughter grew up at Gelson's in Encino. She moved to the West valley,near Vons and will only use it for an emergency milk run. She drives to Northridge for a better selection and quality as well as customer service. Ironically, I thought that was one of the nicest Von's I've been to!

                              1. I adore Gelson's. I love the quality of their chicken and ground beef, and they ALWAYS have what I need, from high end to toilet paper. I stock up there twice a week for my family.

                                1. Haveta say...

                                  At certain times...the Beachwood Gelson's (Franklin & Bronson) feels like a club. They could charge admission...Friday and Saturday late-nights.

                                  1. I absolutley won't buy ground beef anywhere else. W/o exception I have never had a piece of grissel in my meat from G--sure have from Costco, Tj's and Ralphs- Yuck!

                                    1. Newport Beach's Gelson's is usually excellent - much prefer shopping there over Bristol Farms, although there are some items (esp. meat & fish) I prefer at Bristol Farms. Not crowded at Gelson's, no waiting in line, nice people. Their carved to order roast turkey is great in a pinch. I do agree the wine selection is pretty poor & shockingly over-priced.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: torta basilica

                                        And one other reason to like Gelson's...they empty your cart for you, (they are customer service driven from everything I have seen). We like Gelson's, both CC and the Marina stores.

                                      2. FYI Bristol Farms has decent store bought sushi.
                                        Also, it sounds like you should shop at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.....
                                        Although I don't think there is one near Century City.

                                        1. If you want really lousy sushi- try the stuff at T.J.'s!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: compucook

                                            I concur, I much prefer Gelson's..Also, if you ask, the sushi guy should make you something fresh, or with brown rice.

                                            I often buy 2 ounces of tuna sashimi or spicy tuna, then the yummy cucumber salad, then I go get some greens, green onions, mushrooms, hearts of palm and stuff at the salad bar and make myself a yummy salad with everything combined.

                                            it's faboo! Frankly, I wish they offered it as an option, but pre-making that kind of thing is impossible.

                                            I do know that they re-stock the sushi bin and salad bars as often as they can and is feasable with fresh.

                                            one of the sushi guys at Encino knows me and gets my stuff ready when he sees me coming!

                                            THAT'S SERVICE!

                                          2. i don't know about anybody else...but you have to be really careful buying seafood at the silver lake Gelsons and the Mayfair on Franklin. it all looks great, but often you get it home and the fish is so fishy smelling it's gross. I simply stopped buying there and stick with the Fish King or Whole Foods, which has far better seafood.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: JPomer

                                              Seconds on Fish King -- pretty impressive. Gelson's problems exist, too, at Bristol Farms. Their seafood dept. is so stinky I had to detour around it at last visit.

                                            2. Gelson's' is a "circa 1984" idea of a gourmet food store. They really haven't progressed since the days that America discovered that there are things called fresh herbs. I've never bought sushi from a grocery store -- something just doesn't add up right about the idea to me, you know, with all those various seafoods back there in varying degrees of "freshness." Instead, I get Japanese delivery from a reliable source when I'm tired.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Hungry4Good

                                                When was the last time you went to a Gelson's, and which one was it?

                                              2. I like the Gelson's at Paseo Colorado, and have never once experienced frozen sushi (and I've bought it there several times). Yes, I've seen the sign, but clearly what happened to you was a result of the tempreature being below what the signed stated. I find it hard to believe that Gelson's would knowingly sell frozen sushi.

                                                I agree that Gelson's is overpriced, but you're paying for a lot more than just the food. They never make you wait in line at the checkout, every single shelf is stocked perfectly with labels facing outward and the produce is dreamily pretty and fresh.

                                                In any case, if you want good, to go sushi, try Famima!! or Whole Foods. They even give healthnuts the option of brown rice sushi at WF.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Clare K

                                                  So does Gelson's-per the brown rice option, I mean!

                                                2. I shop at the Gelson's in Irvine sometimes because it's right down the street. I'm glad that it's not a Ralphs or Albertsons (which seem to dominate around here), but, other than that, I'm not a big fan. Nice store, great customer service, but not really the "gourmet" I'm looking for. Dairy is better (and less expensive) at TJ's. Little organic produce. Cheeses are a snore. And the fish department reeks, which I don't understand. I literally wrinkle my nose almost everytime I walk by.

                                                  1. Omotosando -The sushi at Bristol Farms is decent. How about Whole Foods - There's several surrounding your area. BHLS, Westwood, Santa Monica,...Even Erewhon -7660 Beverly...Far better than Gelsons! HOWS is the best for fresh fish but, they don't make sushi...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                                      omotosando - As Kitchen Queen and Amanda Enclade (a few posts above) have pointed out, the sushi at Bristol Farms is, for me, the best of all the markets. It is especially good if you can get it before it gets too cold: just before the lunch hour. Otherwise, the "chefs" are generally willing to make you fresh-to-your-specs. I shop at the Westlake Village store and really like their spicy tuna cut-rolls or their spicy tuna bowls.