08/25/2014 01:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

18 Ways That Grocery Store Sushi Is Different From Serious Sushi


Somewhere over the rainbow roll, tuna fins are blue. And the dreams that Jiro dares to dream really do come true. But unfortunately, not all sushi reaches such lofty heights.

Today, much of what Americans eat comes prepackaged off of a grocery store shelf. Store-bought sushi can range widely in quality (some is actually legit!), but even the best-intentioned grocers aren't going to be able to recreate the sushi bar experience.

So to find out the differences we spoke with the author of The Story of Sushi, Trevor Corson (aka the Sushi Concierge) and learned 18 ways that grocery store sushi pales in comparison to its higher-end cousin.

And for the record, Trevor admits that he does shamelessly indulge in store-bought 'shi occasionally, but it's usually vegetarian rolls, as he tries to save his money for the good stuff. Maybe after reading his insights, you will too.

More: You're Ordering Sushi All Wrong: 8 Tips To Make You A Sushi Expert


It's too mushy... or too dry
The rice is likely cooked with too much water, leading to an initial texture more akin to baby food. But after a few hours in a cold case, that roll will be dry as a bone.

The temperature is wrong
Sushi rice should be served close to body temperature and kept slightly warm until being served. That's not happening in a grocery store.

The flavor of the rice is off
Grocery store sushi rice is usually cooked with much more vinegar and sugar, often a pre-mixed ratio, leading to more overpowering rice that attempts to make up for less flavorful fish.


The rice loses its integrity
Decent sushi chefs don't view the rice as one ring of starch, they think of each grain as separate. Over time those grains of rice cease to be unique snowflakes and conform into one bland snowman.

The rice isn't packed right
The chef makes a decision with each piece of sushi as to how tight to pack the rice. Generally it's so loose that it'll be falling apart by the time it reaches your mouth, but with cheaper sushi that level of care isn't taken.

Learn about all the differences between the fish in a grocery store and a high-end sushi joint, plus why the ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce tastes mighty different!

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