I was both intrigued and slightly horrified by this product when I saw it in Aldi's circular last week. A few people tried to talk me out of it after I posted it on Instagram, but I decided to go ahead and do it anyway. ('Cause I'm such a rebel.) That's right, I'm about to review frozen sushi from a low-budget grocery store. Fingers crossed that this goes well and I don't get food poisoning!
So, I freaking love Aldi, and I love sushi, but I'm still not sure about this one. I mean...it's frozen sushi. From a grocery store. None of those things sound like a good idea, and yet, here I am!
The packaging is very minimal for this product, which I really like. We have a cardboard box that's held together with folded tabs, not glue, and inside that is a vacuum sealed plastic bag. Both the cardboard and the plastic are recyclable, which is awesome, so (other than the wasabi and soy sauce packets inside) there's no waste. As for the design, it's pretty rough.
Aldi's Fusia product line always looks cheap...and a little racist-y. It's kind of like Aldi is going through that bad middle school anime-phase. They like Asian food and culture, but don't fully understand it, so the logo and imagery always feels really out of touch. For the most part, the design is very European looking, it just has Asian imagery and symbols slapped onto it. As much as I pick on it, I love the bright wasabi-green color of the box, and the food imagery is probably as appetizing as frozen sushi could ever possibly be. So it's not terrible. Just a little flat and disjointed.
So, how does one thaw this sushi? Well, we have three options, and I honestly found the first suggestion to be absolutely horrifying.
Microwave + Sushi = NOPE. They actually suggest microwaving sushi. I..I get it, it's frozen, but I just can't do it. Even though California rolls are totally not traditional sushi, microwaving this just feels so...wrong. So nope, not doing that method.
Next up, room temperature. Now they don't specify if you leave it literally out on your counter to thaw, or inside your fridge. Whenever I thaw frozen meats I take it out the night before and pop it into my fridge so it's chilled, but thawed when I get home from work to cook it. So I would assume fridge, but is that wrong? I feel like sitting a seafood product on my counter for 2 hours to thaw and eat is...risky. Firstly, I have cats, and if any of you have cats, no counter anywhere is safe regardless of the food being covered or not. Secondly, it's summer. I don't like the idea of letting seafood sit in my kitchen even with the AC on. It just sounds like a one way ticket to food poisoning city. So I'm iffy about this one.
Lastly, place the bag in a bowl of water and let thaw. Okay, not horrible, but where am I going to safely have a big ol' bowl of water. I have the same cat-based counter dilemma.
After a few minutes I decided to go with the second method of letting the product thaw for 2 hours. I opened the bag, removed the sushi, arranged it on a plate, covered it with another plate, and put it inside my microwave, but didn't turn it on. (I tend to use my microwave as a way to protect food from my cats, so if I'm having chicken or something for dinner, after I make my plate, that chicken has to get hidden in the microwave or the oven to be cat-safe.)
Two hours later, some of the sushi was still frozen, but there were enough thawed pieces to plate up and review.
You know what? With my snazzy little plate and my pile of wasabi, this looks pretty good. The veggies look a little oxidized, but still, not the ugliest sushi I've ever seen. (That honor goes to my college cafeteria that served sushi/food-poisoning-bombs sometime around 2009.)
I'm right handed, and I need my dominant hand to operate the camera, so I grabbed my chopsticks awkwardly in my left hand, picked up a piece, and gave it a try as-is.
Surprisingly, this is not the worst sushi I have ever had. It's definitely not great, but it's pretty okay, and far better than what I expected.
I know I picked on Aldi earlier for their "bad middle school anime-fan-like packaging," but that was a phase I definitely went through myself. (Don't worry Aldi, you'll grow out of it.) When I was a young (and horribly obnoxious) anime fan, I used to eat sushi and drink ramune whenever I saw it, because I loved the idea of it so much. So I've had my fair share of cheap grocery store sushi, and you know what? This is better.
The overall flavoring is very sweet, way sweeter than sushi you would get at an actual restaurant, and I think a lot of that is coming from the crab and artificial crab in the center. Whatever they do to that Alaskan Pollock to try and make it taste like crab must involve a lot of sugar. So this tastes sweet, but it's really not that bad. The texture of the rice and sesame seeds are far better than I ever expected, and this is no where near as bad as the Trader Joe's California rolls. (That's right, I'm calling out out Trader Joe's, your sushi is bad, and I'm not the only one who thinks so.)
So my final verdict is that this was better than I expected, but I don't know if this is something I would really recommend. You get 15 pieces of sushi for about $5.00, which is pretty awesome as far as pricing, but it's slightly above grocery store quality. If you buy it and appreciate it for what it is, it's a good product. It's filling, enjoyable, and it comes with wasabi and soy sauce ready to go. I think younger consumers who might not have the ability to go to sushi restaurants on their own would appreciate having this option, but sushi snobs will undoubtedly hate it.
Now just to make sure I didn't get food poisoning, I ate this a day or two ago, and only now am I writing the review, and I am BEYOND happy to report, I didn't get sick! (Horray!) There were two different flavors in the freezer section, this California roll, and a shrimp-based roll. I bought both to review, but I thought this would be less potentially food-poison-y than the shrimp variety, so now that this one has proven itself to be safe, I'll move on to the next flavor.
© Maria Smith http://poison-and-antidote.net
Like me on facebook to keep up with all my adventures!