HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


grocery store sushi

Lots of grocers have eye-catching sushi with tuna, salmon, hamachi, California rolls, etc. Sure, the nori gets a little soft, and the selection is limited, but for 6-9 bucks, it's decent for the price, especially when there is no other sushi option at the moment. Thoughts?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. While it's not the best, it can satisfy the craving, particularly if you're like me and there's no sushi joints anywhere near by.

    What I don't like is the variety of supermarket sushi that stretches it a little, and looks like it's stuffing leftovers into rice and passing it off as sushi. aka the crab salad and shredded carrot variety.

    1. i you need a quick fix and there's no other options ? why not...

      ususally, around here, the fish is really basic, salmon, maybe some white fish, cooked, shrimp.

      always check the date it was made, not the "best before" date.

      1. When we first moved to LA, Trader Joe's sushi was a miracle! We had no plates, pots or pans for almost two weeks while we awaited our moving truck. Cold food and take-out were the only options and that sushi was great.

        1. It can be decent, and I've partaken many times. There are a few grocers here that make their sushi in-house, so it is fresher and less soggy than say TJs where it may have been sitting for a few days instead of hours. I must say that I have been opting for the Kaiten (converyor belt) sushi bars for quick meals lately. It is a little more $ and of course you can't eat it in your car or at your desk, but it is fast. Not the absolute highest quality, but a step above most grocery store. the only thing to avoid is fried things, unless you see them put out fresh. Cold tempura rolls that have been circling the belt are not great.

          1. I have "texture issues" and the chewy nori from grocery store sushi is something I can't get down. Luckily we can walk to our local sushi bar.

            1. The rice is kinda hard. Not really a fan

              1 Reply
              1. re: alissers

                It's the texture of the rice I can't get past, too. I adore fresh sushi, and I despise refrigerator case sushi. On occasion I'll pick some up from the little sushi bar at AJ's Fine Foods, but I always request real crab and always make them make it fresh, even if they point to the case and say, "that's the same." No, it's not. It's really, really not.

              2. I get it for lunch at work pretty often. The market I frequent makes it fresh daily. There is a guy right there rolling them. I can't complain. For the price......pretty, pretty, pretty good.

                1. Luckily I can go to Japan Town in SF and get excellent sushi and sashimi from the market there. Other groceries, not so much.

                  1. I think for the more refined sushi eaters, these places are a no-go. For the rest of us, they can definitely be one of the better service counter choices at the markets. I've eaten sushi all of my life - often times in picnic-like settings, so slightly soggy nori is not an issue with me. What I won't budge on is quality of seafood. The majority of seafood that I ate in my at-home years were sourced either from stuff that my dad or his friends caught, or was purchased from the "sakanayasan" fresh seafood trucks that combed the neighborhoods that were high-density ethnic Japanese.

                    Whatever you folks do, stay away from the Costco stuff. Their product is made for having some serious shelf life, and the rice is horrid - it's more like a failed attempt at mochi.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Yikes, my mom keeps buying platters of the costco stuff and offering it to me. "Here you go honey, I know how much you love sushi!" I've tried to tell her politely that I don't care for it, but she just responds, "Oh, but my friend says costco sushi is great!" She'll happily eat several pieces, but hasn't enjoyed any of the times I've taken her to good sushi restaurants!

                      1. re: modthyrth

                        To each his or her own - if your Dear Mom enjoys it, I won't criticize her. I'm sure she would gag at some of the foods that I consider to be acceptable. Everyone has their own threshold for what is and isn't acceptable for most foods. Some won't budge on bread - it has to be no more than a few hours old. Others won't touch anything but free-range _____. When it comes to rice, Asian folks in general are pretty picky about the different aspects of the grain relative to its use.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          She actually has a pretty nuanced palate when it comes to various Asian foods, since we were stationed in the Philippines for four years, ate like natives while we were there, and traveled pretty extensively throughout the region. She's also what is sometimes called a supertaster, and tastes *way* more than I do with my poor sense of smell, and cares a great deal about the quality of ingredients.

                          I'm still kind of surprised by her response to sushi, but it's not worth fighting over, which is why I choke down one of those costco rolls when she presents them with such delight. ;-)

                          1. re: modthyrth

                            >>I'm still kind of surprised by her response to sushi, but it's not worth fighting over<<

                            Absolutely - I really enjoy various cheeses, particularly domestic artisan cheeses and ones from Spain and Italy. But every now and then, I have to have a slice of good old plastic-wrapped American cheese food. Who am I to judge? Why should anybody? :)

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              I do love your attitude- and the fact that somebody out there in chowland gets the odd urge for the K___ singles, too :-) Sometimes I fold them into strips and put in celery- sometimes I just fold them into strips and put 'em in my pie hole.

                    2. It used to be weekly staple for me. It was adequate enough to curb the craving and a healthier quick lunch choice. The quality started to get so bad that I no longer bother. Just wait until I can get the real thing at a real resto.

                      1. I admit I am fussy about my sushi, so I avoid the fish options. I really like good quality fish, to the point that I won't even buy much sushi in my home town, as I compare it unfavourably to the wonderful sushi I had recently in Vancouver. It is saving me a lot of money. If I won't even buy sushi at a restaurant, well, the grocery store stuff hasn't a chance.

                        Koreans, however, have a long history of eating rolls on the go. Kim bap, the Korean version of maki, are a very popular picnic item, and it is traditional to bring along rolls and rolls of kim bab when going on a long road trip. It is very easy to eat, the Korean version of sandwiches. So I am not against the idea of grocery store sushi rolls per se.

                        However, I balk a bit at the prices. When you see how much kim bab you can make for very little money, it is hard to bring myself to pay $5-7 for about 8 small pieces of vegetarian roll. When you buy Korean kim bab in a grocery store, you get bigger rolls, and more pieces for the same amount of money. I guess I like value for money... But I realize it is about convenience, you are paying for someone else to do the work.

                        I suspect I am not in the majority of people in my opinion on this. Clearly, grocery store sushi has its market, or we wouldn't see so much of it. I am quite encouraged to see it as a regular offering. We have come a long way in terms of what we will eat, and I always love to see increased variety of prepared items in grocery stores. 20 years ago, who would have thought we would see sushi, hummous, burritos, thai food, kim chi in our regular grocery stores? Wow. We are living at a good time, and we are very lucky to have so many wonderful food options here in North America.

                        1. It is okay in a pinch, when you have a hankering for the general flavors. Even in my case where the nearest sushi place is over 120 miles away, I would rather wait. But I do love inari and would eat that from the store.

                          1. I avoid them like the plague.

                            Waste of money; waste of calories; waste of time.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              For one who is harried and charges by the 1/6 hr., one would think this a better, healtier option to the fast food burgers that you prefer. :0)

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                I seriously hope that emoticon at the end of your message really means you're joking.

                                I would take a McDonald's Big Mac or an IN N Out burger (even a day old one) over any grocery store prepackaged sushi on any given day.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  There are no groceries that make sushi fresh daily in LA? When the rice is not sitting around for days getting hard but is only an hour or two past being made, it is usually really not bad.

                                  1. re: babette feasts

                                    The stores that have someone there rolling often will take custom requests too. You can pick out exactly what you want and have it made fresh. Not the same as from a good sushi joint, but certainly not food that's been sitting around.

                                    1. re: babette feasts

                                      Yes. Mitsuwa Marketplace has pretty fresh sushi.

                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                        Bristol Farms on Beverly.
                                        They make it all day long and throw out anything left at the end of the day.
                                        It's all fantastic and the only grocery store sushi I'll eat.

                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                        I'm guessing you ARE saying you like sushi very much and are very picky, if not snobbish about it and where you eat it?
                                        I think if my store had good turnover of their sushi I would think it a better choice than a burger, no matter when or where it was made. Look at Japanese and compare them to us. Who's healthier and leaner?
                                        I think Pass's mouth is wide open in amazement that you would say they (store sushi), are a total waste. Avoid like the plague? Hyperbole I hope! Though I don't eat them frequently at all, they have never been inedible or made me ill.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          Not sure what eating healthy has to do with this thread about grocery store sushi.

                                          Obviously, if I'm looking for healthy fare a burger probably wouldn't be my first choice.

                                          But when I get a hankering for "to-go" sushi and it's not available, my first thought isn't to grab a burger necessarily because a burger and sushi are not perfect substitutes for one another.

                                          But this thread is about grocery store sushi. If I'm looking for takeout sushi (which I rarely am), I'd rather hit up a sushi joint that'll make me a bento box of some sort; I just wouldn't ever think of going to my local market, e.g. Whole Foods, etc.

                                          And, yes, I do love my sushi ... but sushi is generally not one of those things I prefer to eat as a "to-go" item or eat on "the go". Some foods are good for eating while mobile or as a take-out, e.g. pizza, burgers, teriyaki bowls, burritos, etc. I just don't consider sushi in that category.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            For me, it's not a matter of I want sushi and the grocery store is closest, but a matter of I want something fast and cheap, maybe even healthy and the g-s-s is a more appealing option than the others. I basically do not eat the usual chain fast food (rare exceptions for road trips through rural America), and never want a burger.

                                            Looking around the prepared options at the grocery store, the spicy salmon roll that I picked up yesterday in anticipation of needing a snack while painting the house looked better than the likely soggy pre-made bagels and sandwiches, healthier than the fried stuff in the hot case, and cheaper than the entree-type deli stuff. It suited my needs.

                                      3. re: ipsedixit

                                        And of course you've eaten the sushi at every grocery store in every city, and thus can make such sweeping generalizations with absolute authority.

                                        I won't eat most grocery store sushi. TJ's has been mentioned above; IMO the stuff is awful. Gluey, oversweetened rice, gummy nori, shrimp that have the flavor and texture of plastic, etc.

                                        But there's good stuff out there. Ray Yamamoto, a traditionally trained itamae, came out of retirement to make sushi for Oto's, a local Japanese grocery here in Sacramento. Weekday lunchtime only, and it sells out quick. But while it lasts it's a viable option. Nothing fancy, but high quality and very fresh.

                                        Like everything else, grocery store sushi comes in a range of quality. The worst is abysmal, but the best is considerably better than what you'll get in many sushi bars.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          California legal Throwdown! Go Al! I live in Frostbite Falls, Me. Our local Hanneford's freshly made shushi is better that the local Asian restos.

                                      4. i love great sushi from a sushi bar, and have many available here in nyc.

                                        but sometimes while on the run i'll grab some supermarket sushi for a quick light lunch.

                                        i don't think it compares to sushibar sushi - so i don't compare them

                                        1. I'd have to agree. I think Whole Foods in particular does pretty decent basic sushi but like others, I'm very particular in checking the expiration date.

                                          1. I moved to Dodge City, KS a few months ago. I would KILL for grocery store sushi! There is no sushi in town and of course I crave it weekly now that I can't get it. The nearest sushi is in Wichita, 2.5 hours away. Sadness.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: wannabefoodie

                                              Let that be a lesson to the grocery store sushi haters. Sorry you have to go so far to get sushi, I hope that changes for you soon.

                                              1. re: wannabefoodie

                                                I have had Wichita sushi, you are simply out of luck with the entire state.

                                              2. Recently every time that I have gone out for sushi I end up stomach problems. I'm thinking that it is the raw fish. I've started to order rolls with either cooked fish or just veggies. So since I don't eat raw fish anymore, the grocery store Cali roll or veggie rolls are good enough when I am craving sushi. Wegmans, Whole Foods (both regular and a super WF), and Star are the grocery stores that I frequently get rolls from.

                                                1. While not as good as the Japanese resto across town, Wegmans has some passable sushi made by authentic Japanese-looking persons right there in the store. When I'm not in the mood to cook or DW has had a hard day at work, she might stop at Wegmans on the way home and pick up some. BTW - they also make an awesome Summer Roll.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: al b. darned

                                                    I've read some... but not all of the replies to this... so excuse me if I am repeating. I will eat it b/c of the ease of just "picking it up" but by no means is it as good. IMO, the rice and fish is just too cold, and the rolls too big. I had a Salmon roll from Wegman's the other day and it had ZERO taste (and I am a Wegman's fan). Plus, I can never find a Spicy Salmon roll there (my all time FAVORITE)...I know they will make you one, but for me that defeats the purpose b/c I am always rushing just to grab something. All this being said, I would be sad if supermarket sushi went away due to lack of business, so I do pick it up on occasion, though not nearly as much as I used to.

                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                      The sushi people in our Wegmans are decidedly non-Japanese, but Vietnamese. And the rice to fish ratio is out of whack: waaaaaay too much rice. But I admit, I used to get the salmon nigiri from time to time. Not anymore. They just can't satisfy my sushi craving when I get one....

                                                    2. In Virginia Beach the one chain had amazing sushi. Here in Illinois I tried the sushi at Jewel-Osco and it was not good The rice was all jelled together and gross.

                                                      1. I guess I'm not as fanatic about sushi as I thought cause yea, those are really gross to me. And you don't know how long they have been sitting there for D=.

                                                        1. okay, this is a general disclaimer, and does not pertain to the people who buy their grocery store sushi at places that roll it on site....

                                                          I am a manager at a grocery store, and we have to temperature test the sushi company that brings in their fares every day. This is after we (a large chair, so not negligent in safety practices) failed a spot health inspection in our sushi case from too high temperatures. Keep in mind, this was minutes after the sushi was delivered, so it came in at a too high temperature. Also, the company has recently been caught taking the date stickers off of sushi that should be thrown away and putting new stickers on them...... If you're buying prepackaged sushi, for your health, stick to cooked rolls, california rolls, and vegetable rolls, please.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: kubasd

                                                            Wow- you had some bad luck timing there, my fellow chowhound. I'm curious- did you stop buying sushi from that particular vendor? They sound like they're playing fast and loose with the health code.

                                                            I dislike Costco and TJ's sushi, and I'm not a supertaster or a sushi snob. I took Costco sushi to lunch (non-mayo or cream cheese- or whatever it is- California rolls) at work one day last week- it was so dull and boring I will never do it again. Trader Joe's is even worse, but the local Sunflower market has some really nice sushi if you eat it that day. They make it on site in the morning and there's never any Yesterday Sushi. I don't get the raw sushi there, though. It has to be made when you order it, because the necessary refrigeration does a number on the flavor and texture. Not so bad- the inarizushi with the little shrimp and the weird thousand island dressing on top.

                                                            If anything suffers, it's the fresh spring rolls.

                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                              oh yeah, we cut ties with them ridiculously fast! as in their stuff was in the garbage 45 seconds after...

                                                          2. Grocery store sushi ranges from pretty bad to at least decent in my experience. Topping freshness and rice taste/texture are never above "adequate" even at best. If there is no very good sushi restaurant in my area, I can see myself buying the better ones ever once in a while. But with good sushi restaurants close by, I just feel that every $8 I can resist spending on mediocre stuff is $8 towards the fund for am amazing sushi meal at a good place.

                                                            Basically if I have the craving for sushi but can't afford good sushi at the moment, I would try to resist the craving and either save this money, or spend it on foods you can get high quality of for that price (ex: pho, taco, good sandwiches, soup, burger, a plate of prosciutto...)

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                                              for me it is never about a craving or anything like that. if i'm shopping, and it's near lunch time, i might grab a tray of sushi @ the store for a quick easy light lunch when i get home with the groceries. do i expect the same quality or experience as i do when i go out for sushi?

                                                              of course not, and thus i'm never disappointed

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                Oh I can understand that. Most people often eat lunch based on a convenient item that's not bad to them, but not that great either. It's just there and doesn't seem like a bad idea. For me it is convenient enough to eat well all the time cheaply, as I live and work close to the city's main ethnic district, with lots of great inexpensive eateries. And I go to the grocery store maybe once a week.

                                                                Basically when I see grocery store sushi, it's competing with many other options, and generally losing. Again, not to say it's that bad, but it's easy for me to walk right past.

                                                                1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                                                  without getting into my personal bugaboo about the word ethnic - i live in NYC. i have no dearth of options. and yet still, on occasion, that plastic tray of sushi is lunch

                                                            2. Is this all about money? The wealthy LA lawyers abhor grocery store shushi. While the rural poor schmucks make do w/ what they can? Do I smell foodyism here? Gimee fresh bait!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                Hardly classism in this topic. More like, do I or do i not partake. It would actually make more sense if you needed sushi to go, to simply order ir frpom a sushi bar. Some do not allow take out. Actually more of the convenience factor. Now to seperate the decent (best we could hope for) from the wretched.

                                                                There are some high end grocers I would certainly consider buying sushi from if I had the inclination. And I am not an attorney, but I play one on TV.