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Jan 15, 2014 01:11 PM

Delivery sushi-- really?! [moved from Manhattan board]

I live in LA, land of sushi. My sister lives in NYC, land of pizza.

I was horrified to recently find out that she regularly orders delivery sushi.

This to me sounds just as terrible as delivery toast, but delivery toast-- while dried out and gross-- at least doesn't lend itself to salmonella poisoning.

Is delivery sushi in NYC really as common a phenomenon as she lets on? The thought never, ever would have occurred to me. Sushi, by definition, ideally should be eaten seconds after the sushi chef has made it. Or does delivery sushi occupy the same part of the New Yorker eating-mind as supermarket sushi, that has been sitting on shelves for hours (which is also horrifying, but happens here in LA as well so I've adapted to this particular grossness.)

Please help me understand what this is all about. Pizza delivery-- yes, of course. Sushi delivery? I'm traumatized. To my sensibility, it sounds like the "deliver everything to my door" phenomenon of NYC gone mad.

Mr Taster

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  1. I ordered delivery sushi in Dallas when I lived there nearly 5 years ago. It's not that crazy of a concept.

    I probably order sushi for delivery here more than any other food. Can't remember the last time I ordered delivery pizza. I've never been sick from it. Salmonella doesn't just magically appear over the course of the 15 minutes it takes the delivery guy to ride his bike to my house.

    I think your post sounds a little snobby.

    1 Reply
    1. re: loratliff

      ... and, just between us chickens, delivery sushi goes great with marinated Korean Moo radishes.

      Who needs gari when you have daikon!

    2. Sushi delivery is common in Japan....I've been to Japan related events here in NYC where delivered sushi was offered...I know Yuba in EV delivers. Sure other places do. Not unusual in least bit.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        Yeah, one of the things that drives me NUTS about California is how little you can get delivered.

        In Japan, you can get delivery sushi, ramen, fried chicken...and even in other parts of the US, it seems like you have more options.

        1. re: wintersweet

          Well, in Japan in Major Urban Areas. But throughout Japan, not exactly so much. But Silverjay's point is well taken.

          1. re: Tripeler

            i lived in rural akita prefecture and i could get delivery sushi, delivery ramen, and delivery pizza (the pizza place also delivered wings, pasta, sandwiches, bake-your-own pizza, fries, etc).
            can't speak for everywhere but it's not just urban areas, i lived in a small town and heck... there's not a major urban area ANYWHERE in akita!

            1. re: chartreauxx

              I would guess your small town was not too far from Akita city, which I would consider a major urban area. But it sounds like you were in a fairly populated residential area. Still, neither of us can speak for everywhere... and I wonder how long the delivery pizza joint has been in business.

              1. re: chartreauxx

                Cool ! Did they also make/deliver okonomiyaki ?

        2. Happens all the time. Unlike supermarket sushi that sits out waiting for someone to pick it out, delivery sushi is made to order and brought to your door. So its not as good a sitting at the counter at my favorite spot, but good delivery sushi is better than no sushi. Get it for lunch all the time.

          24 Replies
          1. re: Bkeats

            and unlike hot foods, if the delviery guy gets stopped at a light or something . . . its ok that it arrives cold.

            1. re: Bkeats

              And in Japan, sushi for delivery (demae) is prepared differently than sushi for immediate consumption.

              1. re: Glicoman

                That is an interesting observation. How exactly is delivery sushi prepared differently? Is it packaged separately, or are the ingredients for delivery sushi actually different?

                For what it's worth, I am less grossed out by the idea of delivery sushi that is vegetarian, cooked (like eel) or krab than I am of anything that contains actual raw fish... although you're still going to have some issues with gummy, chewy nori or cold, chewy rice (assuming the delivery person transports your sushi it in a cooler, these elements of the sushi are going to degrade rapidly and you can't revive them the way you can revive a cold slice of pizza).

                I really don't get it. Seaweed goes soggy very quickly... how can it stand up to 20 minutes in a cooler? Have you ever had those convenience store or Japanese supermarket onigiri where they have this ingenious way of isolating the nori in plastic, totally separate from the rice, so it doesn't touch the rice until you are actually ready to eat it? Yes, the rice is gummy and cold, but the nori is so snappy and crisp, it does its part to redeem the cold rice. And if you've ever had the premade/prewrapped onigiri, where the nori is touching the seaweed as it sits on the supermarket shelf? If so, you know how disappointing a bite that can be.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Most delivery is nigiri, not maki. The nori in maki items gets a little soggy. Raw fish in delivery stays reasonable cool or at worst gets brought to room temperature. It's not in transit particularly long. The rice they use isn't steaming hot...We get delivery sashimi sometimes as well.

                  1. re: Silverjay


                    Oddly, delivery sashimi would seem to suffer the least from the trauma of transport.

                    I'm still a little freaked out by the idea, but in terms of maintaining overall quality of the end product, the quality of a slab of fish is not going to be affected nearly as dramatically as something made with rice and seaweed would.

                    I'm not sold by a long shot on nigiri or maki, but sashimi at least makes logical sense from a Chowhoundly perspective.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      The rice is lightly mixed with vinegar. It doesn't get clumpy or hard or what ever it is you are freaking out about.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        Hello Silverjay, remember some distant discussion about the gourmet Japanese TV show (from manga) called Kuitan? A foodie detective who uses his knowledge of food to solve...crime?

                        Episode 1 Season 1, there was a murder mystery involving a man and takeout sushi (in Japan). When they interviewed the sushi chef, he said that he invented a way to make delivery sushi taste almost as good...and this was where he packed the sushi rice pad/shari much less tightly and introduced a pocket of air by indenting the rice pad then molding rice around it, so that it compensates for the delivery time factor and still allowing for a delicious bite. Of course this likely does not happen outside of Japan.

                        Then there are scenes from the 1996 TV drama (from manga) Shota No Sushi where a restaurant has to make 50 sets of nigiri platters for catering a wedding. So at least in Japan they have figured out ways to do that.

                        At some of the more localized chain sushi restaurants in Hong Kong during my most recent visit, they have take takeout menus available (while they don't do delivery) but still an option nonetheless.

                        1. re: K K

                          K K

                          This is incredibly interesting.

                          Instead of saying "it's good enough", the sushi chef cares enough to say, "let's try to make it as close to eating at the restaurant as possible."

                          That's not the non-Chowhoundly mentality of a random Japanese grandma picking up leftover supermarket sushi for a deep discount-- it's the sign of a true Chowhound, who cares about his food, and wants to ensure that- for the people who choose takeout- their deliciousness is maximized.

                          Wonderful insight. Thanks again, K K.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            But....that is just based on a TV show. Whether this is practiced in reality, is another matter. In theory that is a fantastic idea, but in reality nobody abroad will do such a thing, and maybe not many places in Japan. According to the TV show's character, the chef came up with the means to do so and objected to delivery/takeout sushi, but the detective commented "why not allow more people to enjoy your sushi, for those that cannot come into the restaurant".

                            It's just like ordering wok stir fry takeout or delivery. Soy sauce veggie fried noodles, dry fry beef chow fun. Has to be eaten right at the spot for optimal enjoyment, and to be able to taste the "wok hay"/wok breath. You can still get a fraction of it takeout/delivery, but is not the same, and no environmental or Styrofoam container is going to be able to retain that. But there is nothing a good chili sauce can't fix, if not to make the stir fried carb or protein taste many notches better, even if delivery!

                            1. re: K K

                              Oh I see-- I didn't realize it was a fictionalized TV show. I thought it was some sort of "sushi reality detective" show, which doesn't seem like such a far fetched idea for Japanese culture. Still, it's interesting that this idea has even been floated.

                              Mr Taster

                          2. re: K K

                            Hey KK, nice to hear from you...Yep, I remember those discussions....Hope all is well!

                2. re: Bkeats

                  It could not be "made to order" when it arrives in 10 or 15 minutes, but nonetheless, the place I order from must be so busy that the already prepared dish they deliver to me was probably only made minutes earlier, as it is always extremely fresh. I agree with loratliff that the post seems snobby. Food does not go bad in an hour.

                  <Sushi delivery? I'm traumatized. >

                  Really? Or is this post a joke?

                  1. re: rrems

                    Well, that, and the OP's insistence that sushi delivery somehow goes against being a "chowhound", whatever that is anyway. As he said "Let's not forget, that optimizing deliciousness is our raison d'etre." (Not true for me, but YMMV.)

                    But the OP does not seem to *want* to be convinced that delivery sushi is not only fresh, but it's also quite palatable, and in some instances quite good. I suppose I'm not a true Chowhound by his definition, if it excludes delivery sushi, which he admittedly has never tried.

                    Anyway, most of my sushi deliveries come from Kanoyama, which is spoken of quite highly on this board. In fact, I've never stepped foot in the restaurant itself and couldn't even tell you where it is.

                    1. re: loratliff


                      These boards were created in the late 1990s in order to defend against culinary entropy-- to defend against the blandification and chaos that takes over when we stop fighting to maximize deliciousness in every aspect of our gustatory lives. That's what being a Chowhound is-- and it's very clearly defined in founder Jim Leff's manifesto, which can be found at the link I referenced to in this post.


                      It may not be why you're specifically here, but it is absolutely the reason why Chowhound is here.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        I'm not sure how anyone could mistake the sites manifesto/guidelines as being anti-delivery, or take out. Just a reminder. Mr. Leff started Chowhound in NY.

                        I also don't recall this site advocating any elitist ideas, or any limitations on where tasty food can be found.

                        Oh, and by the way, our toast delivers just fine here. Let us know if you need a recommendation for that on your next visit.

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Pizza is the culinary entropy in the delivery scene, sushi is the fight against that entropy, maximizing deliciousness. You're pretty much making the argument FOR sushi delivery, not against it.

                          I live in Boston and have had sushi delivered. You seem to have some high holy view that the only good sushi is perfectly cut morsels of fish lovingly doled out by the sushi chef while you sit in front of him at the sushi bar, but I can assure you, it's perfectly feasible to have good, even great, sushi that doesn't come from sitting in front of a chef at the sushi bar. Delivery (or takeout) sushi is perfectly acceptable and IMO miles better than delivery/takeout pizza.

                          If you've had it and it's lousy and you're speaking from that perspective, that's a different picture, but if your only argument here is the concept of it, not the actual execution, then you're being the complete opposite of a Chowhound. A Chowhound finds delicious food where he/she can. To turn your nose up at an entire dining option out of some misplaced sense of what the "proper" way is to eat sushi is antithetical to the idea of Chowhounding.

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            These boards were created in the late 1990s in order to defend against culinary entropy-- to defend against the blandification and chaos that takes over when we stop fighting to maximize deliciousness in every aspect of our gustatory lives. That's what being a Chowhound is-- and it's very clearly defined in founder Jim Leff's manifesto, which can be found at the link I referenced to in this post.


                            It may not be why you're specifically here, but it is absolutely the reason why Chowhound is here.

                            Not anymore.

                            In fact, it probably wasn't even true when Jim Leff was keeping the site up and running by panhandling the posters.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Well, even if the ultimate goal of a Chowhound is to "maximize deliciousness" (stupid term, but I digress), then why is delivery sushi the ONLY thing that goes against this principle?

                              I mean, technically, because I didn't grow the salad greens I ate last night and they were cut and packaged before being sent to me, I didn't "maximize deliciousness". I didn't catch and fillet the pollock I ate the other night, so I didn't "maximize deliciousness" there either. I just don't understand why delivery sushi is so much more of an abhorrence than anything else.

                              1. re: loratliff

                                Could you imagine, loratliff, if all of us tried to maximize deliciousness in every single meal of every single day of every week of every year of our lives?

                                None of us would have any time to post on Chowhound.

                                Personally, I just try to maximize fulfillment in all things I do.

                                If that means take-out sushi, so be it.

                                If that means a cold, reheated Filet-O-Fish, all the better.

                                If that means, a $15 glass of apple juice, oh, wait, nevermind.

                                1. re: loratliff

                                  >> Well, even if the ultimate goal of a Chowhound is to "maximize deliciousness" (stupid term, but I digress)...

                                  That expression is not mine-- it's Chowhound founder Jim Leff's expression, which he used many times on this board in order to focus the conversation and remind us about what we came here for in the first place. He still chimes in here sometimes.

                                  The way I interpret it is that if good food X is located 10 pips away from me, but outstanding food X is located 20 pips away, as a Chowhound I will have a somewhat irrational compulsion to head to the one that's 20 pips away, thus maximizing my deliciousness.

                                  It does not mean that if I find that Guatemala has an extraordinary version of food X that I will fly to Guatemala for lunch. But I very well may drive from West Hollywood to East LA for it (and I'll note it for a future trip to Guatemala.)

                                  In no case would it mean that I would ever intentionally settle for so-so good food X simply because it was convenient. That's my issue with delivery sushi (or delivery toast).

                                  It also means that if my only options for lunch are so-so food X or very good food Z, I will go with Z, even if it's out of my way.

                                  If my colleagues are buying lunch, all bets are off.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    They are different experiences. First I can't afford to sit at the sushi bar and go nuts as much as i would like. Luckily I can afford to do it once a month where i sit in front of the bar and eat piece by piece. Other times I just want a few rolls for dinner and delivery works. Most rolls are inside out in the US anyway and the nori is soggy even at the restaurant. So my usual order would include a spicy scallop, salmon skin and yellowtail scallion roll. Only the yellow tail suffers but to be honest if I ordered all three at the restaurant it would be soggy by the time it got to me.

                                    So I am maximizing deliciousness in two separate situations.

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      One thing I can tell you for a fact, eating with Jim Leff is exhausting!

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    Well that's an interesting argument.

                                    A different one entirely, but an interesting and possibly valid one, that deserves its own thread.


                                    Mr Taster

                              2. re: rrems

                                >> <Sushi delivery? I'm traumatized. >
                                >> Really? Or is this post a joke?


                                Yes, it's a joke. An exaggeration with comic intent. But it's based in truth.

                                Mr Taster

                            2. The world is very sane, my friend.

                              Sushi delivery in Manhattan, alone (per Seamless):

                              Sushi delivery in your very own hometown La-La Land (per Seamless):

                              And that's just on Seamless. Countless other establishments will delivery fish (raw or cooked), rolls (good and bad), to your door, but have not yet signed up to be part of Seamless. This is true in NYC, LA and many other metro areas across this great country we call U.S. of (we deliver) A!

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I am unfamiliar with Seamless.

                                I just clicked on the LA link and my eyes were drawn to 88 Sushi, a divey "Chinese and sushi" place in my neighborhood. I scrolled through the rest of the list and didn't see any recognizably Chowhoundish restaurants.

                                I am not familiar enough with NY sushi restaurants to know if there is a comparable analogy here, but at least in my "Seamless" neighborhood the type of restaurant that is offering delivery sushi is of the quick-and-dirty variety, or the trendy variety.

                                It is difficult for me to imagine a sushi chef who really cares about their sushi allowing it to go out the door and travel for 20 minutes. (And I'm not talking about Nobu/Matsuhisa/Masa, etc. but the utilitarian-but-still-good places like Sushi Gen, etc. Ipse, do you know if places like this do delivery in NY or LA? When I cook, I really care about how my food turns out, and if the quality is bad, I'll eat it myself before I share it with friends or coworkers. I imagine that the stakes are much higher when someone has a business reputation to uphold.

                                I'm open to the idea that my ideas and preconceptions may be built upon a foundation of shit.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  I would say that your last sentence is probably true, as far as NY delivery goes. And once again, you manage to come off as mildly offensive ("I scrolled through the rest of the list and didn't see any recognizably Chowhoundish restaurants.")

                                  I'm eating at Sushi Nakazawa tomorrow night, but that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy a delivery three-roll special on my couch three days ago.

                                  1. re: loratliff

                                    What I've been trying to get at here is really at the heart of the ideals of Chowhound's original manifesto, which is about maximizing deliciousness at all costs.


                                    "Everyone has one in his or her life: the brother-in-law with a collection of 800 takeout menus, the coworker who's always late from lunch because she HAD to trek to one end of town for the best soup and to the other for the best sandwich."

                                    "If you, too, fret endlessly about making every bite count; if you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious, this place is for you!"

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      You asked if it exists. It does.

                                      Typically it's not the Masa level of Sushi, as I explained, it's the utilitarian sushi, and some nicer places, but not the highest end.

                                      If you're challenging the idea or saying it's not Chowhoundish to eat something convenient, or utilitarian, then that's another discussion entirely. Sushi delivery works. It can be delicious. Sitting in your pajamas after a hard day, and eating well made, fresh fish that left the shop only 15 minutes before it arrives at your door is hard to beat. Does it win CH points? Luckily it's not really a competition, but in NY, discussions of delivery come up because it's helpful, and it's a way of life here. Sushi travels well, and hopefully you get a chance to experience that one day. We're not ordering tasting menus, we're ordering ala carte, and we might even be eating with the supplied plastic utensils. The horror.

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        It's not what I would do, but that's probably about as honest, clear and succinct an explanation as there can be, and I appreciate it. Thanks for playing, sugartoof.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          It sounds like you're having trouble wrapping your head around it, and since it's not our job to try and change your mind, that's a-ok. We're just sharing educated experiences.
                                          NY even has businesses specializing in take out sushi.

                                        2. re: sugartoof

                                          Hatsuhana and Gari both deliver in midtown. Given, it isn't top tier, but it's very acceptable sushi and an excellent food option for the banker/lawyer/salaryman spending another late night in the office.

                                          I never get why people order from Aki or the like though, and why they are consistently the highest rated places on seamless.

                                          1. re: eastofthemississippi

                                            EotM, I think I can provide some insight on this question... As you can imagine, much of Seamless' business is driven by the financial / legal firms based in mid-town. As a junior peon there, you'd always work late and end up eating dinner at the office. One of the "perks" for giving up your work / life balance is that you typically get a $20 - 25 meal allowance for dinner. So, when you're in your 20s and basically shoving food in your mouth at your desk, the goal is to maximize the amount of food (I know, sad, right?). And what better way to do it then order from an Aki Sushi, where back in the day, you could do a 3-roll combo for like $11 and then tack on a few more items to boot. As opposed to a Gari, where $20 ain't getting you very far.

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    I would love to get Sushi delivered fresh to my door. Where I live (Cincinnati area), the only places that deliver are pizza places and Jimmy John's.

                                  3. Umm, I find pizza delivery more questionable than sushi delivery, as long as you're not expecting a high quality sushi experience. Delivered pizza is never warm enough, and the crust is often soggy.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: strangemd

                                      This. Sushi travels a hell of a lot better than pizza, in my opinion. Unless you're super-picky about rice temperature, I don't see how sushi could deteriorate at all in the 20 minutes or so it spends in transit. Pizza, on the other hand...

                                      1. re: small h

                                        Ah, but consider this. Just before calling in your pizza delivery order, you crank up your oven and your heavy baking stone to 550. In the 30-45 minutes it takes for delivery pizza to arrive, the stone will have heated up to a respectable temperature (the idea preheating time to a heavy slab would be a full hour, but hey- we're in a rush for pizza here.) And I think we all understand that properly reheated (aka twice baked) pizza is often better than pizza fresh out of the oven. The crust gets crispier and more flavorful from the extra baking.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          I'm not saying it's not salvageable, and I eat my share of delivery pizza - I'm not (that much of) a snob. I'm saying that sushi travels better than pizza. Unless the sushi has to travel via the 405, and then I could see where you'd have trouble.

                                          1. re: small h

                                            I'm not talking salvageable-- I'm saying it's actually better when properly reheated on a hot stone.

                                            There is no salvaging of old sushi. When it's old, it's just old.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              How old is old? Because the fish and the rice have been sitting there a while before they're presented to you, even if you're seated at the sushi bar. It's not like you order uni and someone runs out to dive for it.

                                            2. re: small h

                                              Totally agree... I found the idea of twice baked pizza much worse than sushi that takes 20/30 min to arrive at my table from the moment it was made..

                                              1. re: alepenazzi

                                                If you live in NY, you're more likely than not to eat a twice-baked slice from virtually any slice joint across the city. And those slices can be pretty great, depending on the pizzeria in question, of course.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I think it's a matter of taste, I've never found a reheated pizza great...
                                                  I actually find delivery pizza pretty awful, and the same goes for slice joints pizza. if I want a pizza it needs to be straight out of the oven. But that's just me.
                                                  Other people would never have a burger or a pasta delivered, many others do, and so on..

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    I disagree. I hate twice baked pizza. I honestly feel like it loses some undefinable flavor in the reheating process. If they aren't cutting from a fresh pie right of the oven, I'd rather have it lukewarm than to have it have it reheated.

                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                If I'm ordering delivery pizza, its defiantly a time when I"m not hanging around preheating my oven so my pizza stone is a the "perfect" temperature.

                                                Life happens, and on occasion less than perfect food is what it needs to be "Food"

                                                Or you can come hang out with us and cook the next time we loose power and are bailing out our sump pump manually and begrudge us our Jimmy John's delivery

                                                1. re: autumm

                                                  I don't know about Jimmy John's specifically, but a good Italian sub is definitely one of those things that gets better with a little age. You have to careful with your vegetables (shredded lettuce can turn slimy) but the compression of the meats and cheese with the oil and vinegar soaking into the sub roll... that's definitely better with some delivery aging time.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    I hear you about Italian subs-but in the Boston area, no good Italian sub will include lettuce! Pickles, onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, oil,salt and pepper can be added- but no lettuce. Lettuce is usually used on "grinders" around here. Grinders are usually served in greek style pizza joints, and are baked. But- this subject could probably be another thread entirely!

                                                2. re: Mr Taster

                                                  Any twice baked pizza is lousy and can't compete with freshly made pizza - so I don't understand your discussion that delivery sushi "violates" your CH ethics when you violate it even more with accepting delivery pizza (and by the feedback in this discussion the majority of posters seem to think that quality of delivery pizza is much worse than delivery sushi