The Grill’s sushi surprises, does not impress

When I learned that The Grill was adding sushi to their lineup of delicacies, I was decidedly uninterested. After all, I have never tried sushi before, in part because of my strong aversion to anything even remotely seafood-related. I’m uncultured and have the culinary palate of a child, I’m aware. So what better way to begin my journey of broadening my food horizons than sampling and reviewing some of The Grill’s fine selection of sushi?

I picked out three different boxes of sushi, the California roll, vegetable roll and a crispy shrimp roll. As I walked back to my dorm with my sushi feast, I felt admittedly dubious. Who hasn’t heard horror stories about gas station and even grocery store sushi? Although the fridge I grabbed the sushi from assured me that it was “made fresh daily,” I was not completely convinced.

I’d give the sushi’s presentation a solid “fine.” In addition to the sushi, each box contained a small slice of lemon, soy sauce, wasabi (or rather, the Americanized version of wasabi that is mostly horseradish) and ginger. Each sushi roll was also garnished with a cutting of fake grass that was both unnecessary and an obstacle in my sushi eating quest. While the California and vegetables rolls were presented simply, the crispy shrimp roll was more intimidating. Drizzled in hot sauce and topped with a healthy serving of fried French onions, the crispy shrimp roll was the most “American” of the bunch, the nacho cheese Dorito taco of sushi, if you will.

I began my exciting new sushi adventure with the vegetable roll, or “the one that scared me least.” The verdict? It was not bad. Comprised of rice, seaweed, avocado, carrot, cucumber and dusted with sesame seeds, it tasted fresh and the vegetables lent it a decent crispness. Strangely enough, I thought the cucumber was the sushi’s dominant taste. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, so I’m just going to categorize that under, “that’s definitely a thing.” This is the sushi I would recommend to those who are, like me, a sushi novice. And it’s vegetarian to boot.

I then moved on to the California roll. Coming into this experience, I figured the California roll would be the one I found most palatable. Made of rice, seaweed, cucumber, avocado and imitation crab, it seemed basic and inoffensive, a sushi that even non-aficionados could enjoy. I was very mistaken. Upon biting into my first piece of sushi, I was immediately displeased by both the texture and flavor. The butteriness of the avocado in conjunction with a plastic, artificial taste that I could not put a finger on made this sushi difficult to swallow. I actually didn’t swallow it, in fact. I spit it out like a little kid. This sushi roll tasted like how a doctor’s office smells, all sterile and synthetic. But as I later watched people chow down happily on this same sushi roll, I realized I must be the minority. Is this fine sushi fare or the essence of unpleasantness taken form? Your mileage may vary.

You don’t begin a quest with the climax, so naturally I saved the crispy shrimp roll for last. There was something about that crunchy, sauce-slathered creation that made me hesitant. It did not look like a a sushi for the faint of heart. Like the other rolls, the crispy shrimp roll has a rice, cucumber and avocado base, but with added additions of shrimp, French onions, and hot sauce. After a few false starts, I finally took a bite of the sushi, only to discover it was not as terrible as I feared. In fact, the fried onions masked everything else, including the shrimp, which I was wary of. In spite of the hot sauce, I didn’t find it spicy whatsoever. That said, I’m not sure how I felt about the texture. While I cannot claim to be an expert of Japanese cuisine, something tells me that French fried onions are not typically a staple of sushi. So let’s call this a French-American-Japanese fusion sushi that I wouldn’t necessarily want to try again, but wasn’t revolted by.

After mulling it over, I decided to award The Grill’s sushi 2 1/2 out of 5 stars on the patented “Lana scale of tastiness.” While certainly inferior to what you would get fresh from a Japanese restaurant, it’s about equivalent to what I imagine sushi made by a teenager trying their very best at a grocery store sushi bar would taste like.