Listen, I have no idea what propelled me to even consider Trader Joe's Sushi Sensations. It's not that I'm against sushi. It's just that I've never heard anything good about Trader Joe's. Google "worst things to buy at Trader Joe's" and their sushi will almost always be mentioned. Years ago, in an article on The Daily Meal, I even said I never, ever wanted to try their sushi. Yet, here it was, in my hand, mulling it over....and even more amazingly, Sandy even said she'd eat some with me if we also got her a buffalo chicken wrap as a back-up. I've never seen her near sushi in the seven-plus years we've known each other. This was going to be an interesting night.
Well...there are some positives. I guess. In true amateur foodie-hack fashion, I'll admit, I'm neither a huge sushi fan nor anything close to an expert. But even I could tell this wasn't exactly top-notch fare. There's four types of sushi laid out for sampling here: Shrimp Nigiri, California, Spicy California, and Tempura Shrimp. There's also some dipping sauces: a slightly spicy "dynamo" (not to be confused with the juice), some sweet, some wasabi, and a packet of soy sauce, as well as a small bucket of crispy Panko bread crumbs. The nigiri were reasonably okay, though nothing special, as well as the shrimp tempura. Some common complaints regarding TJ's sushi is the quality and texture of the rice - there wasn't too much (if any) sliminess present, and the shrimp had a good firm texture and taste. Each paired well with the variety of the sauces (although we skipped both the plain soy and the wasabi) and the breadcrumbs also added a nice, little touch.
If those were the only rolls in there, we would have been reasonably fine with dinner and given a middling to solid score. But...the California rolls. Ugh. This is what California rolls are supposed to look like. These TJ impostors? Not close. Instead, the filling and the insides looked like some sort of cross between seafood salad and cat food - just a mishmash o' mush shoved inside some seaweed and rice. And I mean "mush." I didn't realize that the sticker with the nutrition label and ingredients was missing, and I can't find a picture of one online, but the filling tasted like all sorts of fake seafood-type junk smushed together. If there was a shred of authentic seafood in either one of those rolls, I;d be shocked. The "spicy" and regular had no discernible taste difference either. Sandy took one bite of one of them and nearly spit it right out for the texture being so offsetting. I'll admit that I was able to eat the rest...I must've been really, truly hungry and the sauces and breadcrumbs helped cover a lot.
For a couple deliriously hungry sushi novices like us, the Sushi Sensations platter made a somewhat passable dinner, but barely. This is what you get when you pay $6.49 for a large sushi plate - we should have figured and gone for something else. At least I can say that I've overcome my fears and tried it out, all to say you'll probably want to stay away. This is not going to be purchased again.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sushi Sensations: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons