Super Market Sushi: Kroger vs. H-E-B

Categories: Food Fight

When I think about sushi, I think about my time in the Far East, and I think about something that looks like this:

realsushi.jpg
Sam Brown
That sushi got me dizzy.
Supermarkets have been trying to capitalize of late upon the massive popularity of sushi. You can't go into a grocery store anymore without seeing a sushi-dedicated kiosk or deli counter. The rolls always look oddly shaped, the sashimi and sushi pieces like fake, color-treated rubber strips. The Korean chatter drifting from the chefs contributes to the questionable authenticity.

It's no news that sushi is popular, but what some people call sushi isn't really sushi, and what H-E-B and Kroger call sushi is even worse. I decided to do a taste test of the super market sushi at these two places and figure out which one had the best (of the worst) to offer.

Japan is a land of sparse natural resources. In feudal Japan, when there was a rigid caste system in place, the one commonality, from the high born samurai to the lowest eta -- the handlers of meat and the dead -- was that their fecal matter was collected and meticulously distributed around the rice fields for fertilization.

When you live on a jutting collection of volcanic islands which experience about 1,500 earthquakes each year, you need a little originality and inventive thought. (Nintendo, anyone?)

tuna sampler 1.jpg
Jamie Caturani
Delicious and unsustainable.
They also have some of the finest cuisine around. Japanese food is reflective of their culture on the whole: a devotion to each and every detail, no matter how seemingly insignificant. If one is to do a thing, one devotes his whole life to perfecting it.

Sushi is a remarkable representation of this ideal. I had the privilege of getting to travel to Tokyo for a week and seeing first hand the artistry and passion that sushi chefs display. They devote their entire life's passion towards their work, their raison d'être. Watch this trailer for more on this; this particular chef has been declared a national treasure by the country of Japan. That's pretty serious shit for putting slivers of fish onto balls of rice.

Unfortunately, we all don't have this luxury of experiencing first hand the artistry of sushi. I happened to be teaching in Korea at the time, so it was an easy trip, all things considered. This means most of us have to accept somewhat of a different standard.

C'est la vie.

First up was Kroger.

It cost $5.49 for nine of these small California rolls. They had the standard fillings, but it was more "maki-n me crazy" than "maki roll." Boom.

The avocado was already oxidized a bit, as well. It also seemed like the roe on the outside was an after-thought, as it was unevenly distributed about the outside of the roll.

Thumbnail image for KrogerSushi.jpg
Sam Brown
Steven Tyler would not close his eyes and sway back and forth from this.
It was dry. It was rubbery. The imitation crab was the highlight.

I have an unabashed love for imitation crab meat. I won't lie. I can't. I could write a whole story just on my love for it. I know what it's made of, and it's not pretty. Still, it's one of my guilty pleasures.

As far as a lunch is concerned, I think you'd be better off making a sandwich. Simple carbohydrates, fairly high fat and sodium in the crab meat and then a whiff of avocado and cucumber don't exactly help fill out your daily intake pyramid.

H-E-B came next. H-E-B at least offers the opportunity to sit and and enjoy this finally-nice weather that we've recently been experiencing with its outside seating, but the sushi experience isn't much better. The actual fillings reminded me of something more akin to an Israeli salad, as everything was somewhat cubed.

Thumbnail image for HEB sushi.jpg
Cristina Cuellar
Don't be fooled by the box that I got, I'm still, I'm still sushi from the grocery store around the block.
I was tempted to go for one of their fancier offerings. They had what amounted to a Crazy Roll and one called Crunchy Roll, but they were topped with the usual mayo-based sauce, sweet glazes and tempura flakes that just turn me off from most rolls. And a few of them had cream cheese inside. No, thanks. Can't stand it.

Plus, I figured I had to be scientific about it, so I'd best just try their same, standard California Roll.

It was, literally, exactly the same. Same stuff inside, same exact vaguely-Asian packaging... same everything, pretty much. H-E-B seems to be a little more refined, as it offers the choose-your-own-sushi piece bar. That's nice, but the stuff from there is pretty pedestrian, too. You also have to individually unwrap every piece of sushi you get from plastic wrap. How gauche.

At $4.49, it was a little cheaper than Kroger's version, but, again, you are better off without.

If you must get your roll on, get your-get your-get your roll on, (what?) then just go to a place with a decent sushi lunch deal. They ALL have one, and it's really only a few dollars more for the real thing.



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39 comments
3v3y
3v3y

Kinda lost credibility when you waxed poetic about imitation crab. 

guest
guest

My favorite supermarket sushi is found at Oishi, Miyako, Cafe Japon and Zake.

Genevieve2
Genevieve2

I don't know where to begin....

Please, post the 'EOW Bloggers Needed Immediately' ad.

This is just inane. Pretentiously inane. And inanity with bad timing, as foreigners Uchi and Katsuya clutter our local landscape of serious sushi choices.

Please. I beg you.

Imneverfull
Imneverfull

FYI, supermarkets lease out their sushi kiosks. It might have been the exact same company making sushi at both of the supermarkets you wrote about.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

 I really don't see the merit in comparing supermarket "sushi" against restaurant sushi and expecting the outcome to be news. It further complicates the mix when you mention sushi actually sampled in Japan.

Supermarket sushi has never been advertised as a replacement for your local Japanese restaurant. The convenience factor is it's selling point and as such it serves a need. I have never bought a roll at my local HEB expecting the same quality as my favorite place. And have yet to find a roll that would replace the need to visit my local hangout. But I have always been satisfied.

Also on a completely unrelated note. My Daddy used to always tell me - Son, never show up to a gunfight armed with a knife. You sir should admit defeat now and put away your knife while FattyFatBastard is still loading his gun.TA

The Marlboro Woman
The Marlboro Woman

Whole Foods has some decent take out sushi.  The Tiger Roll is fabulous.

SC
SC

Every time I have bought ANY type of seafood at any HEB, it has been way beyond its freshness date. I tried some sushi at one location in a night of crazed pregnancy cravings and found that the fish used was just as old and rancid.  Note: I lived in Japan and do not share the same American anti-sushi pregnancy mindset. I try not to eat any food that is spoiled... but for some cracked out reason, I decided to throw caution to the wind and eat sushi from HEB.

DX
DX

Sam,

Have you ever tried Uchi in Austin? Lance Armstrong says its the best sushi in the US. 

tom J.
tom J.

California roll is NOT sushi.  So, NO...you did not compare sushi at all.  If you have any appreciation for Japanese food, you would not have called this roll a sushi.  Go to Tepei on Westheimer and Voss to get some real Japanese sushi and sashimi.  

Jeannie
Jeannie

The HEB off S. Fry rd in Katy is Excellent. The picture above does no justice to the quality I always get. Also..prices range depending on what type of sushi ..I always tend to get the crunchy roll or the spicy california roll...and it's around $6.99....very filling and my 7 year old daughter loves it. I have had my fair share of sushi..supermarket or not..but HEB is by far the best!

Corey
Corey

Which Kroger?  Montrose Kroger is terrible, where as River Oaks (aka MILF) Krogers has superb sushi, HEB is been always fair to middling for my tastes.

Mike N.
Mike N.

Agreed on all points. However, the spicy tuna roll at the Buffalo Speedway HEB is surprisingly decent, and better than many sushi bars I've been to in Houston.

Feldman
Feldman

I, for one, would like to see this article on why you like imitation crab meat so much. Bring it.

Ohyes
Ohyes

i think you're missing the point.

LOL
LOL

 LOL

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

Did you miss the part where I went to Japan for real Japanese sushi and sashimi?  It's a little more authentic than a place on Voss and Westheimer, I'd say. 

Sushi Miyagi is where I go if I want sushi.  Maki rolls are a dime a dozen and basically the same wherever you go.  Thanks for playing.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

I'll give the Crunchy roll a shot, thanks for the head's up.

Corey
Corey

 I10 and Bunker Hill also has good sushi, I prefer it to the new West Alabama store (HEB). Agreed though, the Katy store does have good sushi.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

It sounds like the sushi at the River Oaks Kroger is a little old, dried up and saddled with emotional baggage.  Or, maybe that is just he MILFs.

Went to the Kroger on W. Grey and the W. Alabama HEB.

Jeezuie
Jeezuie

The owners of Teppay are Japanese immigrants, and their fish is flown in from the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.  You are mildly ignorant, grasshopper, but you entertain me greatly, so don't go changing.

Arnot
Arnot

 Sushi Miyagi IS awesome!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Anyone who writes an article with a title saying "supermarket sushi" and then proceeds to do a write up on two California Rolls deserves to be mocked.  The fact that you apparently have gone to Japan makes your decision even more boggling.  Go back to both stores, buy some actual sushi with, you know, raw fish, and then come back and write this again.  Be happy you weren't being graded for this.  Sheesh.

Greg Burland
Greg Burland

"Maki rolls are a dime a dozen and basically the same wherever you go"

And yet you felt the need to write an article comparing Maki rolls from competing grocery stores? 

Lady
Lady

 Misogynist much?

Corey
Corey

 I have them normally make it fresh, as they're right there until about 7-8pm. You just have to ask, the MILF aspect is just a plus.. Let's put it this way if some random woman asks to see your hands, she's looking for a ring.. lol..

ASMD
ASMD

Hey guy... you still use LOL. Come on. Seriously.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Wished I was more anonymous, or less vocal?  Not much I can do about anonymity.  Google kind of changed that.

Corey
Corey

 But we all wish you were..

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I'm not as anonymous as you think I am, but you're new, so there's that.  Now quit bitching, go back to both stores and actually try the "sushi."  Then come back and tell us how they actually were.  You can even compare them to the sushi you had in Japan and appear to know what you're talking about.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

You should just be happy.  Be happy that you are alive, breathing and provided for to the point that you can nit pick blog posts.  Let's put our priorities in line, here.

Anyone who is this critical in the anonymous comments section of a blog post deserves to be mocked.

Little Katy
Little Katy

 And your last post was referring to how hot the bar tender at Kata Robata is...

Corey
Corey

 If you took that seriously, you're doing yourself a serious disservice. Lighten up..

Corey
Corey

 Though I could stand to drive a porsche.. haha..

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

One ring to bring them all together, and in the darkness, do weird stuff with old lady parts.

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