I'm addicted to grocery store sushi.
I eat sushi prepared by a grocery store at least two to three times a week. No Tyson Cole neatly injecting gold-plated quail egg into Toro for me.
Eating sushi from a grocery store sounds like questionable behavior, and it is, but absolutely worth it.
If you're poor like me, here is a guide to some of the best and cheapest sushi in town.
You see, sushi makes my world go 'round, my heart a'flutter, and my stomach sometimes make these strange "meow" noises. I've had it checked out, and unless I ate a cat once and didn't realize it, I'm not sure where it comes from.
Unfortunately for me, I have restaurant sushi tastes with a grocery store sushi pocketbook. But that's okay. I've made it work. You see, there is plenty of excellent sushi available at your local grocery stores here in Austin.
So, if you're poor like me, here is a guide to some of the best and cheapest sushi in town.
HEB $4.79 - $12
HEB is the best bang for your buck. None of their sushi is over $12, and all of it tastes pretty darn good--and I've tried it all. Though each location offers different varieties, most of the selection stays the same. You have your kindergarten stuff: California, Spicy Tuna, Philadelphia and Eel. Though these rolls are fine, it is with the more elaborate rolls that HEB really shines.
My favorite is their Tempura Roll ($7.99)--a harmonious melody of tempura crab, avocado, cream cheese and jalapenos, topped with crunch, spicy mayo and brown sushi sauce. Though nothing about this roll screams healthy, it gets me through this grueling summer heat without resorting to keeping a flask in my purse. At a few locations, they got bored one day and did some kid-experimenting with sushi and Cheetos. Their Firecracker Roll starts out much like the Tempura Roll but dusts Firecracker Cheetos on the top. HEB's non-sushi items such a Seaweed Salad ($3.79) and Summer Rolls ($5.79 ) — imitation crab, avocado, carrots and cucumbers with a sweet and sour sauce--are also worth checking out.
Whole Foods $7 - 12
Whole Foods probably has the most sustainable sushi selection, but I've been disappointed a number of times with their sushi. It's not that it's bad, it's just not great. And since Whole Foods is like the reining god of grocery stores, something there not great is blasphemous.
What I think it boils down to is their brown rice — pun completely intended. Though delicious and healthy, I've grown to discover that brown is not the best rice option for sushi. It's big and airy and easily falls apart. Often brown rice can be abundant and takes away the taste of fish in the roll. Also, Whole Foods is tied with Central Market for some of the priciest sushi options. Most of their rolls average between $8 - 11. I feel kind of bad saying this because we all know that Whole Foods probably has the best selection of sushi, but it's just not my bag.
But hey, let's focus on the good stuff, huh? Whole Foods is the only place to offer both Hand Rolls ($7.69) and this cool Spicy Tekka Don Bowl ($8.69) which is like one giant sushi dumped into a bowl. For healthier options, the grocery store also offers rice paper rolls filled with fruit ($7.69) and they're now featuring sushi with multi-grain rice. But who wants healthy? GIVE ME MY CHEETOS!
Central Market $7 - 14
Central Market (owned by HEB) boasts the most expensive sushi with their Bento Box — Hawaii Roll, Sashimi, and a smattering of Calamari Salad — at $14.00 and their basic rolls — Salmon, Tuna, California — starting at $7.25. Even their Veggie Roll which contains just cucumber, rice, and seaweed paper is $7! At least add some cream cheese to that motha', won't you? Also at the end of the day some of their sushi looks like it's been beaten with the ugly stick. Needless to say I've never been impressed with Central Market's sushi. But I'll stop hatin' here. Positive features include Central Market jumping on the Whole Foods band wagon by adding multi-grain rice to their menu and this really awesome wasabi mayo that is sometimes drizzled on their rolls.
Wheatsville Co-op $3 - 7
Though they don't have the most diverse sushi options, what makes Wheatsville different from the rest is their cheap prices and vegan-friendly options. If you don't love fish viscera dribbling down your chin, then you can check out Wheatsville's yummy Vegan Tofu Salad Roll with Peanut Sauce ($5.95), Vegan Avocado Roll ($7.99), Vegan Pot Stickers ($5.49) or Vegan Inari ($3.50). They also offer the cheapest fish rolls of all the grocery stores with their spicy tuna or salmon rolls with two pieces of sashimi for $6.99. You better hurry though, Wheatsville runs out of their sushi quickly and by 8pm there aren't a lot of options left.
So there's my list, tell me, what's your favorite grocery store sushi in Austin?