The Ultimate Ranking Of Grocery Store Sushi

Selection of sushi
Selection of sushi - Ridofranz/Getty Images

Having eaten my way around Osaka, it's safe to say that I know what good sushi tastes like. Still, when a craving strikes, I'm not above settling for some grocery store sushi once in a while. The main allure: Lower prices and sheer convenience. Of course, given the circumstances, I calibrate my expectations accordingly. Frankly, there is no possible way that grocery store sushi can ever hold a candle to sushi that's made to order in a restaurant. That said, there's also no doubt that sushi quality varies between shopping markets. After all, some companies actually take the time to make their sushi rolls fresh on a daily basis in-store, while others simply have the sushi delivered pre-made and frozen. These polar opposite approaches lead to dramatic differences in taste and texture.

Ultimately, what I'm looking for in grocery store sushi amounts to a few basic things: Reasonable prices and variety, fish that will safely get the job done and doesn't look funky and freezer-burned, and decent rice. That may sound like a low bar, but I think it's important to keep it real, and these are the main variables that I've used to rank the sushi in this list, based on my own experiences along with comments from customers on social media. Wondering which grocery stores fall short and which ones beat the odds and rise to the occasion? You're in the right place.

Read more: The Best Grocery Store In Every State

10. Walmart

Walmart sushi
Walmart sushi - Walmart West Sacramento/Facebook

Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to eat sushi from a place where you can also purchase a coffin? While there's something undeniably convenient about Walmart's colossal inventory, there's also something almost dystopian about the company's penchant for dominating the grocery industry with its seemingly endless expansion of massive megastores. With well over 10,500 locations worldwide, Walmart makes hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the United States alone. You would think that a company raking in that kind of cash could afford to hire some skilled sushi chefs to make fresh rolls daily in-store. Alas, that kind of help doesn't appear to be forthcoming.

What Walmart does offer: Pre-made sushi rolls that arrive at its stores from third-party vendors, such as Moji, which also sells its sushi at Circle-K. Putting two and two together, it's fair to say that the sushi quality you can expect from Walmart is on par with the same kind of sushi you'll discover under the flickering fluorescence of convenience stores and gas stations.

According to sushi enthusiasts on Reddit, the sushi at Walmart leaves much to be desired. In fact, an alleged Walmart employee claims that the sushi arrives frozen and, adding insult to injury, admits that it's not worth purchasing. If you find yourself at Walmart with a hankering for seafood, you're better off cooking something tasty up at home. This delicious mirin glazed salmon can be on the table in less than 20 minutes.

9. Costco

Costco sushi
Costco sushi - Orange Flamingo/YouTube

Costco is a membership-based chain with warehouse-style stores that sell everything from luggage and backpacks to whole Dungeoness crab. Even though the inventory at Costco seems nearly just as dizzying as Walmart's, the selection at Costco tends to feel a bit more upscale and more mindfully-curated compared to Walmart — and that includes the sushi.

Similar to Walmart, Costco gets its sushi pre-made elsewhere and shipped in. But there's reason to believe that Costco might be testing out improving its sushi, since the company rolled out a new approach at its store in Issaquah, Washington (which is conveniently located next to its global headquarters). Customers at the Issaquah branch can find sushi in the prepared foods section that's made in-house by workers throughout the day. The store has a temperature-controlled room that's specifically dedicated to sushi making. The company even flew some of its employees out to Japan to hone their rice-making skills. One of Costco's goals is to offer sushi with better rice that's somehow more impervious to the dried-out fate that befalls so many other varieties of grocery store sushi. Tan Vinh, a food writer for Seattle Times, reports that the company's effort at its Issaquah branch to boost its rice game has been largely successful: The sushi rice manages to maintain its moisture and flavor despite its refrigeration, thanks to its relative freshness. That's great to hear; now let's hope Costco spreads that freshness to more locations outside of Issaquah.

8. Winn-Dixie

Winn-Dixie sushi
Winn-Dixie sushi - Sushi Factory Tigerpoint Winn-Dixie/Facebook

Winn Dixie is based in the Deep South, mainly operating in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Although the grocery store is mostly known for cultivating a reputation for slabs of land-roaming meat — largely thanks to years of the company marketing itself as "The Beef People" — it may be surprising that Winn Dixie has a pretty good sushi section. The sushi is made fresh in stores, which automatically makes it light years better than many other options in the realm of retail sushi.

I have had the sushi at Winn-Dixie, and one of the things that I appreciate is that some of Winn-Dixie's locations offer deals on Wednesdays for five-dollar sushi rolls. On top of this, some stores also have bars with beer on tap and wine, which means that you can score some sushi and wash it down with a drink, all for a very reasonable price. If you ever find yourself shopping while you're hungry — a famously terrible combination — Winn Dixie presents the perfect solution. Some of the sushi options at Winn-Dixie include California rolls, spicy shrimp rolls, crunch rolls, and samplers. There aren't too many grocery stores where you can sit down for a glass of beer and some sushi, but Winn-Dixie is making that possible, though these options appear to vary by location. Between its cheaper prices and the fact that it makes its rolls fresh on location, Winn-Dixie manages to raise the bar on what you should be expecting from grocery store sushi.

7. Sam's Club

Sam's Club sushi
Sam's Club sushi - Sushi At Sam's Club Orlando/Facebook

Similar to Costco, Sam's Club is another membership-based warehouse chain. The main difference here is that while Costco's sushi is mostly pre-made and then shipped out to locations (aside from Issaquah), Sam's Club makes its sushi fresh on-site. It appears that Sam's Club hires Fujisan sushi chefs at its stores, who prepare various rolls for customers in-house and can also fulfill larger orders for party platters with advance notice.

With large portions and low prices, Sam's Club beats out quite a few other stores when it comes to sushi. What really nudges the company ahead of some of its competitors isn't just how it makes its sushi fresh, but also the sheer variety and the fact that party platters are available. Many customers agree that the sushi at Sam's Club is consistently good, and looking at pictures of Sam's Club's sushi, the freshness is apparent at first glance. Sauces look freshly drizzled, rather than soaked into the rice. Slices of avocado are bright and green, and strips of tuna and salmon are thick and colorful. If Sam's Club wasn't one of the first grocery stores that comes to mind when you're looking for a good sushi deal, it's time to change that and see what you've been missing out on.

6. Sprouts

Sprouts sushi
Sprouts sushi - Sprouts Farmers Market/Facebook

Like a few other grocery store chains on this list, Sprouts has a Wednesday sushi deal that offers some nice bang for your buck. Some of the company's cheaper options include spicy tuna rolls, California rolls, and Krispy Krab rolls. One of the things that sets Sprouts apart from some of the other choices in this ranking is the company's commitment to quality. All of the seafood at Sprouts is responsibly sourced and the company works with hundreds of local growers who offer seasonal produce.

More good news: The sushi at Sprouts is also freshly made in-house on a daily basis by workers. Some other popular sushi rolls at Sprouts include Philadelphia rolls, crunchy shrimp rolls, and veggie rolls. Paired with some pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce, the sushi here is consistently good. Sprouts also sells wild ahi tuna steaks which are the perfect opportunity to make this pan-seared herb-crusted ahi tuna.

5. H-Mart

H-Mart sushi and sashimi
H-Mart sushi and sashimi - hmartofficial/Instagram

H-Mart is a Korean grocery store chain that opened its first spot in Queens back in 1982. The company now has nearly 100 locations across the country. One of the main advantages of buying sushi at H-Mart is the abundance of nigiri sushi, which is my favorite kind. The beauty of nigiri is how simple it is. Unlike rolls — where the fish and a variety of other ingredients are mostly contained inside the rice, nigiri isn't rolled at all. Instead, individual slices of fish are laid on top of a small cylinder of fresh rice. There is often only a subtle smear of wasabi between the fish and rice. The humble simplicity of nigiri makes it impossible to cover up iffy fish or bad rice, because it's all openly laid bare. There is nothing for the fish and the rice to hide behind: No cream cheese, no sticky eel sauce, no fried onions or avocado or globs of spicy mayo. The absence of all those things allows the quality of the fish and the rice to truly take the spotlight.

Another bonus of shopping for sushi at H-Mart is that the store often sells chunks of salmon belly (most likely leftover from preparing sushi) at a significant discount. This makes it possible to score some good fish for cheap that can be used in a ton of different dishes at home like poke bowls or stir-fry.

4. Wegmans

Wegmans sushi
Wegmans sushi - Wegmans/Facebook

The sushi at Wegmans is made at its stores, several times throughout the day, to ensure maximum freshness. The fact that the company prioritizes making its sushi in smaller batches (instead of preparing it all in one big batch at the beginning of the day) helps Wegmans earn a higher slot in our ranking.

Wegmans also sells some unique sushi rolls that aren't typically available in other grocery stores. The store's crunchy teriyaki roll — made with salmon, blanched asparagus, teriyaki sauce, fried shallots, crispy tempura flakes, and spicy mayo — is the type of sushi that seems more likely to be on a restaurant menu than inside of a grocery store. In a delicious twist, Wegmans' shrimp po boy volcano roll fuses sushi with a flash of Cajun-style cuisine. Made with shrimp tempura, cajun spices, New Orleans-style remoulade, tempura crunchies, and white shrimp, this is another sushi roll that feels more like it belongs in a proper restaurant, which is a testament to Wegmans' creativity. The only thing holding Wegmans sushi back from true greatness? Occasionally, the rolls fall apart due to poor construction, which can get a bit irksome.

3. H-E-B

H-E-B sushi
H-E-B sushi - Sushiya at HEB/Facebook

H-E-B is a Texas-based grocery store chain. The company places a strong emphasis on offering higher quality products, such as fresh tortillas made in-house and in-store brands that are so good they're often vastly superior to bigger competitors. The sushi at H-E-B follows suit, delivering dependable quality that's made fresh inside its stores. The only real downside here is that the sushi prices at H-E-B are a little steeper than many of the other stores in this ranking. That said, there are some things in life that we shouldn't be willing to roll the dice on just to save a few bucks — and raw fish is one of those things.

The sushi is so good here that customers on Reddit are quick to redirect people to H-E-B when sushi quality is questioned at other stores like Walmart. Unlike many other grocery stores, H-E-B offers some truly impressive variety. The company sells combo plates with several different types of sushi, like its Texas Trio combo pack. The Texas Trio comes with three sushi rolls that offer distinct flavors, making it easy for customers to sample different sushi with just a single purchase. Like Wegmans, H-E-B also puts a Cajun twist on some of its sushi with ingredients like blackened salmon and crawfish. H-E-B's freshness and variety earn it a top-tier seat as some of the best grocery store sushi in the country.

2. Fresh Market

Fresh Market sushi
Fresh Market sushi - The Fresh Market (Columbia, SC)/Facebook

I've had Fresh Market sushi many times, and one of the things I'm always struck by is the quality of the fish. The salmon — my usual fish of choice for sushi — is surprisingly soft and buttery. The rice holds up well and doesn't taste too dried out. My main critique is that the store is pretty stingy with the wasabi and pickled ginger. As someone who particularly enjoys both of those ingredients, wasabi and pickled ginger are something that I look forward to when I eat sushi, but Fresh Market's servings of them are so consistently meager that they feel more like frugal sample tastings than proper portions for a full meal. The fact that Fresh Market's prices aren't exactly cheap makes that fact sting a little deeper.

On the plus side, Fresh Market makes cucumber rolls without rice (sushi rolled in thin slices of cucumber) is a great option for those limiting starch intake — and one that tends to be difficult to find in other grocery stores. Fresh Market also has excellent poke bowls, which sushi fans should definitely check out. Fresh Market occasionally runs deals on its sushi, but the variety is extremely limited, which stops it from taking the cake to reach number one.

1. Publix

Publix sushi
Publix sushi - Publix/Facebook

When it comes to sushi, we all want a good deal, and Publix delivers that on Wednesdays like a few other stores on this list. While the options tend to vary depending on location, in my experience, the deals do usually extend to the rolls I love the most, like spicy salmon and spicy tuna. Many grocery stores tend to only extend good deals to sushi that's cheap and made with imitation crab, but Publix offers bargains on sushi with higher-quality ingredients.

Price concerns aside, unlike Fresh Market, Publix also seems far more generous with portions, spooning out sizable dollops of wasabi and healthy piles of pickled ginger onto each tray. The sushi at Publix is made fresh daily. The rice has the right balance of vinegar, salt, and sweetness. The rare combination of quality, variety, and affordability makes Publix our best pick for grocery store sushi. One last thing: While you're inside the store, make sure to get a fresh Publix sub made to order at the deli, to save for later.


Salmon nigiri on a plate with chopsticks
Salmon nigiri on a plate with chopsticks - xarng phomjampa/Shutterstock

This article took several factors into consideration during the ranking process, including quality, selection variety, consistency, and price points. Sushi was judged based on the author's experiences along with commentary from co-workers at Daily Meal, and the consensus of customers on social media.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.