HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Why is Trader Joe's Sushi so off-putting?

Is it just me, or does anyone really like Trader Joe's sushi? I am in the Boston area, fyi. Its like the rice is like compressed or something. It is not even as good as the cheap sushi I occasionallly buy at the local Market Basket.

Maybe its just because it has to be pre-prepared and shipped, versus at least assembled by hand at the grocery counter..

Maybe this is a regional thing - does anyone get really good maki/rolls at their TJ's?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's not just you. Their sushi really is bottom of the barrel.

    1. Pre-packing at a central commissary is the antithesis of sushi. The better question is why are you even contemplating the purchase? It's not like there's a superior version of pre-packaged sushi with a sell-by date a week into the future that you're missing out on.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        Not really contemplating it, just more surprised they even bother to put it on the shelves.. I guess somebody must buy it..

        1. re: grant.cook

          It's like Starbucks baked goods, also trucked in from another state. "Someone" is buying the stale scones and banana bread slices too.

      2. I once looked at TJ's sushi and put it right back to the shelf.
        They looked horrible. No sushi from TJ and Costco.

        1. 'Maybe its just because it has to be pre-prepared and shipped, versus at least assembled by hand at the grocery counter'

          That pretty well sums it up

          1. Nope it's terrible here too (NC). I don't understand why anyone would buy sushi from trader joe's. Besides the weird compressed rice, TJ's sushi also features gray avocado and suspect "fish product" and always looks like the package has been dropped numerous times. Any/all of my local grocery stores employ sushi chefs, and any/all have offerings that are so much better in quality and not much more expensive. In fact, the sushi at whole foods is quite good! I love trader Joe's for lots of things but never ever sushi.

            1. Repeat after me:

              Supermarket. Sushi. Supermarket. Sushi.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Gotta laugh at that since I was just thinking the other day how much I liked the sushi from Whole Foods (maybe they don't qualify as a "Super" market?)

                1. re: Servorg

                  I find the sushi at WF to be perfectly acceptable for a quick lunch/snack. They guys at mine are really nice and they will customize anything and are happy to make anything up fresh. My sons preferred after school snack are their avocado rolls.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  I know, but sometimes I am just jonesing for some quick nigiri... WF or Market Basket here in Boston do it decently.. its not like I am walking up to the counter and asking for omakase..

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Supermarkets can have decent sushi: there are several in the Bay Area that have real live people preparing sushi with fresh ingredients throughout the day.

                    Trader Joe's is not one of them. They make their sushi somewhere down south and truck in up, so it's far from fresh even before it sits around the store.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Our humble (ok maybe not so humble) Harris Teeter out here in the wilds of Chantilly VA has a sushi chef on premises. His sushi is fine for a quick meal.

                    2. I think the rice isn't prepared properly. It seems like there no vinegar, sugar, salt, at all. I also think where they keep it is too cold. And then, as ipsedixit said, its supermarket sushi.

                      1. I've had it a few times, and the rice is the nastiest sushi rice you'll ever try. Wet, mushy, sticky, sort of gooey... awful stuff.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                          Yes, the rice is wet, mushy, sticky and gooey. On occasion I will stand there and contemplate buying it but I keep reminding myself that it's gross.

                          It's not even in the same category as supermarket sushi.

                          1. re: valerie

                            I often fall victim to Trader Joe's Syndrome over in the ready-made food aisle; even though I know the sushi's gross, I look at those funky labels and the $3-or-so prices and think, gee, that would hit the spot right now! Then later I find myself at home with my gooey, mushy sushi and my slimy, wet wrap and vow never to buy them again :)

                        2. At least at MB, they make it on location, still I'd opt out of purchasing any sushi at a super market.

                          1. It's the worst, but somebody must be buying it. Can't understand why they don't improve it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: emily

                              It's our fault. We buy it. Well, nothing with actual fish, just those weird veggie rolls with the brown rice. My daughter packs them in her lunches. I tried them a couple of times, and they'll do for a quick meal, but they are not sushi, that's for sure.

                              1. re: Isolda

                                Lol stop it! It needs to be discontinued.

                            2. The rice is overcooked, lumpy, compressed and it tastes funny. The wraps are heavy and slimy. The chicken in the grilled chicken salad was microscopic. But hunger usually hits me when I'm in Trader Joe's (the Burlington location near HMart, Market Basket, etc)--clearly I need to change my shopping pattern.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cassis

                                You're near H-Mart but choose to eat at Trader Joe's?

                              2. I have to say, yes, I really like TJ's sushi. I tried their Sushi Sensations twice and love it. I'm in north central FL and they opened a TJ here just recently. If this matters, I'm asian who grew up in Asia. This means I'm used to authentic asian tastes. Maybe my taste bud is different than most people here. For example, I hate and do hate Publix subs, but seeing regular lines there I think maybe it's just me. TJ's spring rolls are great especially the sauce, which tastes exactly the same as the one I got from a Vietnamese grocery.

                                I'm wondering if it could have something to do with what Americans are used to in general. Why do I say this? Take my boyfriend for example, (he's an American), a few years ago I took him to my hometown (Bkk). He had breakfast with me and my family at our house. He didn't like it at all. He later commented about the flavor, the texture of the food etc. FYI He's not a picker eater. He enjoys Asian food, but from my observation what he enjoys is still within the range of the food/ingredients/flavors that he grew up with.
                                That's my 2 cents....

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: ancha

                                  Every time I've ever gotten sushi from TJ's, the rice has been so wet and soggy that it's sort of compressed into a solid, gooey cake with no grains visible anymore. Maybe I've just had really bad timing when I've purchased it. Was the rice in your sushi halfway edible?

                                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                                    Yeah, the rice in my sushi is not that soggy. It might not be as dry as the one at Publix, but it's definitely not gooey. I know these are all relative. So the best way to judge is probably for you to have the sushi I got here and vice versa. For one I truly enjoy all kinds of sauces that come with it and put quite a fair amount on my sushi. In that way I enjoy those sauces together with the sushi. I had never tried eating the sushi by itself.

                                  2. re: ancha

                                    My conclusion would be that the sushi in BKK is worse than TJ's.

                                    1. re: ancha

                                      Authentic Asian tastes? Maybe just Thai.

                                      You can't be in every country at one time, so it's a boon that the New York LA and Bangkok (among others) offer what they do.

                                    2. Trader Joe's sushi is hateful In decades of shopping at TJ's [OK they haven't sold sushi that long] no one I know eats it.

                                      It' awful!!!

                                      1. I could not agree enough! I went to Trader Joe's today and got their sushi for my lunch... Oh, boy, I was disappointed. The rice doesn't look like rice at all... it looks like a paste - more like "overcooked-my-rice-didn't-know-what-to-do-with-it-and-decided-to-slap-some-sushi-together" thing... FYI - I am from Chicago, so I don't think it is regional.

                                        1. To the Japanese, who should know something about this, the rice is the most important component of sushi. So........ Poorly made rice, trucked in from somewhere else, sitting in a plastic box? Not much chance of being very good.

                                          1. It is not you Grant! TJ sushi is totally disgusting! It RESEMBLES sushi. The rice is gloppy and pasty. The fillings are cheap and heavily processed and fake. The seaweed is wet and slimy.

                                            I HATE TJ SUSHI!

                                            I have been passing it by like a black hole in the store for YEARS!

                                            1. No. You're right. I looked at it & it didn't look great but I thought I'd give it a chance. It was terrible. Worst thing I've had at Trader Joe's yet. Not making that mistake again. Even though it is pre-prepared & shipped (which we suspected), well...it could still be better, IMO. If I was TJ's & keeping track of what people say about it I'd sure make an effort to improve it.

                                              1. I've never tried it - the only sushi I want to eat is freshly prepared.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: John Francis

                                                  I agree. I was under the impression that it surely must be since it was TJ's, right? And I was hungry, so there it is. Learned a hard lesson, lol. I hate wasting food but I had to serve the remainder to the chickens. Not that that is really a waste since it is recycled. ;)