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.
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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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.