Blogs > Eating It Up Locally!

Who wants to cook? Let’s go out to eat. See where News-Herald staff members dined and where they go to unwind in our area. You might just find a new treasure in your own neighborhood.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Supermarket sushi faceoff: Heinen's vs. Giant Eagle

I’ve become well-acquainted with grocery store sushi since I took my first full-time job a few years ago. I used to go to the Kroger Marketplace in Mansfield every couple weeks to indulge in some post-work sushi. I am by no means a sushi expert, but I find sushi a refreshing, light alternative to a lot of quick, prepackaged foods.

When I moved up to Northeast Ohio to take the copy-editing job at The News-Herald in November, I left behind Kroger stores but not my love of convenient, fresh sushi at reasonable prices.

Both Giant Eagle and Heinen’s offer sushi made fresh daily by in-house chefs, and I hit up both stores for a Sunday night sushi feast to write this post.


Giant Eagle contracts with AFC Franchise Corp., the same company whose sushi rolls I was familiar with at Kroger. According to their website, they are the largest supplier of fresh sushi to supermarkets nationwide. They offer a variety of sushi, sashimi (raw fish, sliced thin), specialty rolls and related items.

Unfortunately, their website isn’t great about showing the wide variety of rolls they offer and explaining what’s in them. You can get an idea of how many varieties they have by taking a look at their nutrition info.

I’ve tried other things before, but recently got the Sushi Supreme — Cream Cheese Plus and the Fullmoon Combo with brown rice. One of the drawbacks I’ve found with AFC/Giant Eagle is that the sushi isn’t always clearly labeled as to what’s inside. You really have to dig through the ingredient list to figure out if you’re getting shrimp, salmon, imitation crab, smoked steelhead, tuna, etc. 

Cream Cheese Plus from Giant Eagle, $7.99 for 13 ounces.

As far as taste goes I thought the Cream Cheese Plus had a nice flavor with the delicious cream cheese, but wasn’t really doing wonders for me. I did like the sesame seeds sprinkled onto the sushi rice, but this roll didn’t light up my taste buds until I dipped the roll into teriyaki sauce blended some of the wasabi (the little green bundle of spice commonly served with sushi). 
Fullmoon Combo from Giant Eagle, $6.29 for 10.5 ounces.

The Fullmoon Combo was a bit more flavorful with tasty avocado paired with another mystery fish (Help me out with the labeling here, Giant Eagle!), brown rice and some more delightful sesame seeds. 

I paid $6.29 for the Fullmoon Combo, which was 10.5 ounces (a.k.a. 60 cents per ounce), and $7.99 for 13 ounces of the Cream Cheese Plus (61.5 cents per ounce).


Heinen’s partners with Hissho Sushi to make fresh sushi every day. Hissho Sushi is a lot more clearly labeled and their website is much easier to navigate. Their online menu gives clear descriptions of all their rolls and most of their other items as well. Their nutrition info also conveniently prints out on one sheet of paper handy for repeat reference if you’re health conscious.

Most recently I got the Wasabi Crunch specialty roll and the Tokyo Fantasy with brown rice. The labels are much clearer on Hissho’s sushi, which is important if you have food allergies, know you dislike something, or are leery of consuming raw fish. 
Wasabi Crunch from Heinen's, $7.99 for 7 ounces.

The Wasabi Crunch was my favorite of the rolls I tried on this occasion, but then again it was a specialty roll, with wasabi, cooked shrimp, avocado and cucumber rolled up with sushi rice and topped with wasabi peas and wasabi spice. It’s eight pieces were all huge and sometimes difficult to hold with chopsticks (could be partly because of my ineptitude with chopsticks. For something labeled as spicy I would have liked it to have a bit more heat, but the crunch of the cucumber mixed great with the subtle spice and crunch of the wasabi peas. I thought the textures and flavored blended really well, but the pieces were almost too large to easily eat. 

Wasabi Crunch, left, and Tokyo Fantasy from Heinen's. Easy to see how the Wasabi Crunch pieces are significantly larger than standard rolls.

Tokyo Fantasy from Heinen's, $5.99 for 7 ounces.

The Tokyo Fantasy was also good. It came with spicy sauce on top (kind of like a spicy orange mayonnaise) of a roll of raw salmon and cooked shrimp blended with cucumber and brown rice. The cucumbers offered a refreshing crunch and there was a slight heat that I found delicious.

I paid $7.79 for the Wasabi Crunch, which was 7 ounces ($1.11 per ounce), and $5.99 for 7 ounces of the Tokyo Fantasy (86 cents per ounce).


The sushi offerings vary greatly day-by-day and prices range from about $5 to close to $12 for some of the more intricate specialty rolls at both Giant Eagle and Heinen’s. Depending on when you stop in at either store you’ll get a wide selection of everything ranging from lettuce wraps to sashimi combos and a variety of specialty rolls. Sometimes it’s picked over and pretty generic with California rolls and not much else. 

The price might be slightly cheaper at Giant Eagle, but you sacrifice clear labeling to get that. I also think the wasabi from Hissho Sushi is spicier than the wasabi from AFC Franchise Corp, and there might be more options at Heinen’s than Giant Eagle (though this is based on my experience at the Willoughby Hills Heinen’s store and the Willoughby Giant Eagle location so this could easily vary by location).

I recommend trying items at both locations depending on which store is more convenient for you. I’ll probably end up hitting Heinen’s more often because there’s one right by where I live. Although, if I'm craving sushi at work I'll probably head over to the Giant Eagle by the Great Lakes Mall because it's a short drive from The News-Herald.

Feel free to tweet at me or email me with suggestions for good sushi restaurants in the area, particularly if they're budget-friendly. Sayonara!

-- Nicole Franz | | @FranzOrFoe

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home