OK, so technically the “ugly” part is our fault.

In Japan, you can find tons of sushi restaurants, and you can find tons of vending machines. What you won’t see, though, are sushi vending machines.

This can partially be explained by the fact that the vast majority of Japan’s vending machines sell drinks, not food, and even when they do offer something to eat it’s usually snack foods like cookies or crackers (or maybe coriander). We’ve been seeing more and more vending machines that provide full-on meals since the start of the pandemic, though, so our ace reporter Mr. Sato has been on the lookout for one that sells sushi, and now he’s found one.

For this taste test, Mr. Sato headed to the Greater Tokyo Integrated Wholesale Center, also known as the Fuchu Market, a huge wholesale market in west Tokyo. Tucked away in a corner of the facility is a bank of vending machines, and one of them…

…sells sushi!

This isn’t one of those technicality cases where the word “sushi” is used in its literal meaning of vinegared rice. The machine sells legitimate nigiri-style sushi, with slices of raw fish atop vinegared rice blocks.

The seven-piece set is priced at 1,500 yen (US$12.10). The sushi is frozen, requiring three hours to thaw, so once Mr. Sato returned to SoraNews24 headquarters he sat in a deep meditative state until it was ready to eat.

So let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly parts (in reverse order) of this vending machine sushi.

● The ugly (which is our fault)

Looking at the above photo, you’re probably thinking that the arrangement of the sushi set looks pretty sloppy, and wondering if this slipshod attitude is going to extend to the flavor of this fish as well. However, that artless presentation is entirely on Mr. Sato, who tossed the set into his bag so haphazardly that the box flipped over on his way back to the office and spent most of the trip upside down.

Once he did some rearranging…

…it looked a lot more appetizing.

● The bad (but with something good first)

The seven pieces of sushi in the set represent six kinds of seafood, which is a nice amount of variety. You get two pieces of salmon, plus one each of tuna (a.k.a. maguro), sea bream (tai), amberjack (kampachi), shrimp (ebi), and octopus (tako).

Unfortunately, the sea bream (pictured above) and amberjack weren’t the best in terms of flavor or texture. Generally, sushi fans are happiest when the fish has a high content of flavorful fat, but these were on the lean side. They didn’t make much of an impact on Mr. Sato’s taste buds and also felt a bit on the dry side, and the octopus (seen below) was drier still.

● The good

Mr. Sato didn’t have any complaints about the shrimp, though, and things picked up considerably with the tuna, which was quite tasty.

Best of all, the salmon, which the set gives you two pieces of, was the best of the bunch. According to the package, the salmon is frozen immediately after being caught, in order to lock in its fresh flavor, and it delivers on that promise.

As for the rice, the quantity was a little smaller than what you’d get at a revolving sushi restaurant, but its quality and seasoning was good.

After taking some time to digest his meal and organize his thoughts, Mr. Sato is happy to report that vending machine sushi can indeed be done well. He’s not sure the concept is equally applicable to every kind of fish, but if, for example, they’d swap out the sea bream, amberjack, and octopus and replace them with extra pieces of salmon and tuna (which are Japan’s two favorite sushi toppings anyway), this set would be even better.

Location information
Greater Tokyo Integrated Wholesale Center / 大東京綜合卸売センター
Address: Tokyo-to, Fuchu-shi, Yazakicho 4-1
Open 5 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Sundays and holidays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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