Every time I go to the local HEB grocery store, I always accept a sample of a sushi roll being offered at the sushi stand located between the vegetables, meat and fish sections of the store. However, I have never purchased a container of fresh made sushi to go. Why do I not purchase the sushi? The simple answer is that I am at the grocery store to purchase ingredients to make a meal at home. However, when I travel for work, I do look for fresh made sushi that is sold at a grocery store located near the hotel.
Prior to 1953, the most exposure Americans would have had to sushi would have been during the military occupation of Japan after WWII. I can only imagine the response of the “greatest generation” had towards raw fish served with vinegar rice. I am sure the responses would have been colorful. In 1953, sushi was formally introduced to the United States when Prince Akihito served sushi at the Japanese Embassy in Washington.
It was not until 1965, when the first sushi bar / restaurant Kawafuku opened in Los Angeles. Fast forward to 2012, and there is sushi available in nearly every city and town in the United States whether served in a Japanese Restaurant, Chinese Buffet or available for purchase at your local grocery store coast to coast and even in the middle of Kansas.
The first question that comes to mind is whether or not store purchased sushi safe to eat? The answer is yes. Store purchased sushi is just as safe as store bought potato salad or deli meats. In fact, there have been fewer problems with contamination of sushi than chicken or hamburgers. You have a greater chance of becoming ill from the rice than the raw fish, but then the rice is mixed with vinegar which inhibits the growth of bacteria.
Despite all of the information that indicates that store bought sushi is safe, there is one criterion that I do use in determining whether or not to purchase sushi from a store. If I cannot see the sushi being made in the grocery store, then I will not make the purchase. However, if there is a sushi stand / island in the grocery store with the employees making the sushi, then I will make the purchase and enjoy the food when I am back in the hotel room. Fresh is fresh whether in a restaurant or in a grocery store, the same hygienic food preparation requirements and standards are in place.
If you have never tried sushi, sushi prepared in grocery stores is typically a combination of raw fish, cooked fish and vegetables whether together or separate. Even if you have no desire to eat raw fish, there are more than a few options that will allow you to sample sushi at a fair price and in the comfort of your own home.
For me, the option to enjoy American style sushi while traveling is an excellent alternative to fast food and chain restaurants. There are times when eating a salad for the fourth or fifth meal of the week is not just going to happen. I want something different, and for me, sushi is light, healthy and I do love that moment when the pungency of the wasabi hits me good and hard.