No, the title isn’t a typo. I am writing about a supermarket.
Some of you may think this means The Sushi Legend has jumped the shark. Others may say that Wegman’s is paying me an outrageous amount of cash or that I’ve run out of sushiya in New York City to review.
To those people I say: my mother tells me I’m still smart, Wegman’s can’t afford me and there are more sushiya in this city than rats (and there’s 40 million rats).
No, what happened is four things:
- Wegman’s is infamous for their “actually good supermarket sushi” (quote from my wife)
- Wegman’s first Manhattan location opened two weeks ago (I live in Manhattan during months where it’s not a sauna)
- Wegman’s first Manhattan location includes a mini market called Sakanaya that imports a variety of sushi-adjacent seafood from Toyosu
- I wandered in the other day and they were having a live Bluefin Tuna cutting at 1pm
It’s also worth mentioning that I am a petty, petty blogger. I reached out to the Wegman’s PR team looking for a morsel of information on this opening and they were quieter than a church mouse. So if anything, I’d prefer not to waste my time writing this when I could be doing something fun like listening to Levels. And yet, here we are.
Ps: *Bill Simmons Voice* are we sure Levels isn’t the greatest track of this millenium?
The ‘Sushi Market’ inside Wegman’s is called Sakanaya
Don’t confuse Sakanaya – which means ‘fish market’ – with the traditional Wegman’s sushi market. This Sakanaya is down an escalator. while the sushi market is on the ground floor.
Sakanaya gets most of its fish from Toyosu Market. Here’s how the supply chain works…
Wegman’s has partnered with a Japanese fishmonger called Uoriki to facilitate the Toyosu to Wegman’s Astor Place supply chain. The various fish apparently come in whole and are processed on-site. Some are sold untouched and displayed up front, while others – like the honmaguro (bluefin tuna) – are fileted/by slab (known as Saku) and sold in a separate section at the back. There’s also a frozen section featuring various shellfish (unclear if that’s part of the same supply chain), a mini water tank to accommodate in-season fish (sanma when I was there), and do-it-yourself Ikejime table (ok I made that last part up).
Pictures on all below.
On-site fishmonger training
Part of the stated vision for Sakanaya is the development of Adrian Hutchins, the in-house fishmonger. Though he’s spent 10 years at Wegman’s, he – and Wegman’s – have apparently recognized that when it comes to sushi and the seafood that runs its engine, there is no substitute for on-the-ground training. So, the goal is for him to work side-by-side with Uoriki experts and eventually progress to training the next generation as well. For once, I have no snark. Seems like a wonderful mission.
Omakase Bar Coming
Another part of the vision? A literal omakase bar, debuting in April 2024. This is the part of the Sakanaya concept that fascinates me. I truly hope whoever is in charge realizes that seafood is only a part of the battle; without wonderful shari (the rice), there’s no point. Hopefully they get the right Itamae.
Bluefin tuna cutting
The day I visited, the Sakanaya team was performing a live bluefin tuna cutting, and as you might expect, a large crowd quickly gathered to watch. Hutchins emceed the presentation and assisted with the prep, but it’s clear he’s not yet ready to lead the cut himself. Him and his crew also passed around the Nakaochi (the meat scraped from the bones) as samples. This show got underway at 1pm – I know because I missed the first quarter of the Dolphins game – but it’s unclear if it will be a weekly thing.
Prices are high and fish may be mislabeled
Quick word of warning. Prices are high, and different packaging is sometimes mislabeled. For example, the O Toro below is actually Chu Toro. I’ve collected as many prices as I could below if you’re deciding for yourself (early Nov 2023).
If you’re serious about DIY sushi, Yama Seafood in NJ has more options, better quality and cheaper prices. And Sunrise, H Mart and even effing Eataly have Uni (Wegman’s does not).
But the experience and convenience of Wegman’s Astor Place is worth a visit if you’re in the area.