Skip the New Sushi Rolls at Pei Wei Asian Diner

Categories: On the Menu

tuna-sushi-rolls-pei-wei.jpg
Photo by Molly Dunn
The Spicy Tuna sushi rolls at Pei Wei are hardly spicy.
Pei Wei Asian Diner has changed its menu over the years to include a variety of healthy and lightened menu items. Dishes normally battered and fried can be ordered steamed; tofu and vegetables are now available; and two new sushi rolls have been added to the "healthier" food lineup.

It seems like Pei Wei should have already been offering sushi rolls just as most fast-casual Asian eateries do. But, the new Mango California and Spicy Tuna rolls prove why it has always stuck to stir-fry bowls with rice or noodles.

The steamed dishes, such as Teriyaki and Orange Peel chicken with brown rice, are tasty and filling lighter options for those wanting fast Asian food minus some of the guilt. If you're going to eat something healthy at Pei Wei, stick to the lettuce wraps and steamed entrees; the new sushi rolls may be lower in calories, but you'll regret your decision the second you eat one piece.

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Photo by Molly Dunn
The Sriracha dunking sauce is too thick and overpowers the bland Spicy Tuna sushi roll.
You can order the sushi rolls in either a pack of four or eight. Customers can create a full serving by purchasing four roll packs of both flavors.

The Mango California Roll is a twist on the traditional California roll normally stuffed with avocado, crab (imitation or real) and cucumber. Pei Wei's version substitutes the sticks of avocado for strips of mango. While the fruit adds a hint of sweetness and freshness to the roll, it doesn't provide the creaminess normally provided by the avocado. There's not enough soy or citrus ponzu dipping sauces to soften the super thick coating of rice combined with the dry imitation krab, firm mango sticks and cucumber.

It's nice to see that Pei Wei at least offers one roll stuffed with real fish, though. The Spicy Tuna features tender chunks (not neatly chopped) of Ahi tuna with slices of cucumber and scallions. Surprisingly, you might need a spread of wasabi on top of each roll; if you're expecting it to be spicy, you'll be sorely disappointed. The Sriracha aioli adds some heat, but one dunk and all you'll taste is the thick yellow sauce. You're better off with soy sauce.

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Don't you love it when some sushi roll pieces are smaller than the others?

Aside from the bland flavors in both rolls, each comes with different size pieces. Some are overly stuffed with the fillings, giving you too large of a bite, while others have just a smidgen of chopped ingredients.

Sushi rolls generally attract customers who don't prefer eating raw fish (nigiri and sashimi), and it's clear that Pei Wei wanted to provide sushi-newbies something to eat. However, there are much better California and Spicy Tuna rolls in Houston than these. If you want a tender, soft, flavorful sushi roll, don't expect to find them at Pei Wei.

The fast-casual Asian eatery needs to reconsider the fillings and reduce the amount of rice. Otherwise, it needs to just take the sushi rolls off of the menu and stick to the classic Wok'd entrees.

Location Info

Pei Wei Asian Diner

1005 Waugh St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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10 comments
FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Hmmm.  So who DOES have the best spicy tuna roll?

Hank Lewis
Hank Lewis

There are things Pei Wei is good at, sushi isn't one of them

dallesio
dallesio

You're simply too nice when writing about something bad.

huffington
huffington

They got rid of me years ago with overcooked food (really?? in an Asian-ish restaurant??) and sugary sauces. It's a shame as it's a good concept - they need a better overall chef with stricter training sops to clean up the mess.

Nojusticenopiece
Nojusticenopiece

Did we really need this article to tell us not to order sushi - or anything else really - from Pei Wei???

vonroach
vonroach

Not sure why you are reviewing this national chain anyway. What's next? Don't order the bottomless salad at Olive Garden?

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

I can't figure out Pei Wei. I've been there three times and found it to be horrible every time. Soy sauce is their favorite ingredient.  It's like homemade stir-fry where the cooks don't know what they're doing. I haven't been there in at least a year so maybe it's gotten better.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@dallesio You kind of expect a mammal/human being to have a back bone; as do I.. Rationalizing things, making excuses, but in reality not really telling it as it is which clearly is what the readers want.  But no, we'll keep getting middle of the road blase reviews..

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@vonroach 

In all fairness, Ms. Dunn is critiquing a new menu item.  I believe the infinite salad at Olive Garden has been there a while.  If you haven't had the salad I'll save you the trouble. It's too salty.

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