Fast-Food Sushi vs. Supermarket Sushi

Categories: Dueling Dishes
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Edwin Goei
Sushi Boy's Sushi

Fast-food sushi. If there's a better food oxymoron out there, I think it'd have to be "veggie burgers." But that's disingenuous of me to say. I've actually enjoyed more "fast-food sushi" than veggie burgers. Most of the time, it's Sushi Boy; not usually for the sushi, but for their poke bowls, which are not only better than the sushi there, but much more satisfying and cheap to boot.

But sushi is the point of today's Dueling Dishes. I'll compare their decidedly "fast-food sushi" with the "supermarket sushi" at Whole Foods. Why Whole Foods? Well, other than Sushi Boy, it was a chain-like entity where I assumed I would spend less than sushi-bar prices for a sushi meal.

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Edwin Goei
Whole Foods' Sushi

My first mistake was making the assumption that anything at Whole Foods could be cheap. The "Tsunami Combo" shown above retails at $14.99. The California Roll pack shown below, $7.99. And this, again, was for pre-prepared sushi that has presumably sat in the cooler for most of that morning. A taste of the sushi confirmed that it had. Though the fish tasted fresh, chilled to frigid, the rice had hardened to sharp little grains. There was real crab meat in the California Roll though, which would've justified the price if the things weren't inordinately dry.

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Edwin Goei
Whole Foods' California Roll
Another thing I didn't expect about Whole Foods' sushi section was its rather scant variety of choices. Salmon and ahi tuna were the prevailing protein, existing in permutations of plain and spicy, rolled with nori into makizushi or draped in thin, squarish matchbox-sized steaks over white or brown rice for nigiri. The salmon was silken, while the ahi had a bright tang. But after sharing the meal, I couldn't shake how much I'd paid and how very hungry I still was.

Given what I paid at Whole Foods, Sushi Boy was a bargain. A current sale price of $7.99 not only bought a "Kobe" sampler with 15 pieces featuring nine distinct types of sea creatures, it came with a bowl of miso soup. A "Salmon Lover" meal was also on special for the same price and included the soup. Though the clam tasted like the scallop which tasted like the octopus--all uniformly bland with nothing going on except texture--the salmon was actually luscious and sliced well. And since the sushi was prepared to order, the rice was moist and close to what you'd expect at a proper sushi bar.

Winner this week: the fast-food sushi at Sushi Boy.

Sushi Boy, 14421 Culver Drive, Irvine.
Whole Foods Market, 2847 Park Avenue, Tustin.

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8 comments
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Dwayne
Dwayne

The Albertsons (I know what you're thinking, but hold on...) on Brookhurst at Edinger has a new sushi cooler with full time sushi chef.  Surprisingly good.  Seriously.

Joe
Joe

The Asian mega-supermarket at the northeast corner of Beach and McFadden in Westminster has the famous "Two for $6" special right inside the entrance to the store.  They make it right there, so it's constantly fresh.  Lots of decent sushi for little money.  Then you can wander across the parking to Lynda Sandwich, or go next door to a highly under-rated pho place, where their daily special is a big bowl of oxtail stew for $5.00. 

909Jeff
909Jeff

I think there are at least 4 of us here that would be interested in that... Which is about 3 more than would be interested in Moxley's next piece.... 

909Jeff
909Jeff

haha! I kid, 

I responded to moxley on his DUI story yesterday or was it the day before? and never got a response so he has to take a little heat somewhere. 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Hey, no Moxley-bashing, especially as a non-sequitor, lest we bring out the knives...

The Siege
The Siege

What about sushi from Mitsuwa? That's definitely pretty good supermarket sushi!

Carrion Fairy
Carrion Fairy

Sushi Boy isn't bad for the prices and for what it is. Definitely the only 'fast-food' sushi place I can stomach.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Edwin, 

Have you tried the sushi at Bristol Farms?  I work across the street from one and will indulge in their poke bar at least once a week though at $14.99 a pound it can get a little spendy... The spicy tuna bowls are pretty good and run about $8.  Sometimes (ok ALL the time) the Nori is soggy because the rolls, cut and hand, sit for a couple hours in the chiller but otherwise I find that the fish always tastes fresh the veggies are still crisp and the avocado isnt brown. 

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