We Tried Whole Foods’ Sushi Sandwiches So You Don’t Have To

Spoiler alert: You don't have to

California sushi sandwich from Whole Foods. Photo by Jessica Sidman.

You’ve heard of sushi burritos. You’ve seen sushi doughnuts. Not to be outdone, Whole Foods is getting in on the mash-up game with its own unnecessary creation: the sushi sandwich.

The Logan Circle, Pentagon City, Rockville, and Vienna stores all began offering the fish-stuffed slabs of rice (no bread) earlier this year. Some are halved in rectangles, while others are (correctly) cut in triangles like a club sandwich. They come with your typical roll fillings: spicy tuna and avocado, shrimp tempura, California-style avocado and fake crab, and veggie.

We tried one so you don’t have to.

The spicy tuna avocado, $9.99, seemed kind of promising, especially since Whole Foods sells the best grocery store sushi our food team recently taste-tested. Immediately, though, we encountered a conundrum: how the heck are you supposed to eat this thing? If you use chopsticks like sushi, the pieces are too large and unwieldy. If you use your hands like a sandwich, you have to subject your fingers to the cold, slimy soy wrapper on the outer layer of the rice. There is no good solution. It’s like stitching together a bikini and a parka—it’s not going to work in Anchorage or Cancun.

As anyone who’s ever made a sandwich knows, the bread-to-fillings ratio is key. No one like a mouth full of crust. But the sushi sandwich does not adhere to this basic tenet of sandwich-making technique. The rice is dense and overwhelming, while the tuna and avocado are squished in a thin layer with bits of tempura crunchies that have long since turned gummy. (Another critical sandwich-making rule: make it fresh. Unless it’s PB&J).

Despite being left with a vague queasy feeling and a plastic container with decorative lettuce, we’re not opposed to the sushi sandwich in concept. In the right hands with the right ingredients—not prepackaged on a grocery store shelf—we would give it another go.

Just please, please, no sushi cupcakes.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.