AFC Sushi

7 Overall Score
Taste: 7/10
Variety: 9/10
Availability: 10/10

Wide variety | Very available | Chilled and fresh | Affordable

Quality varies by location | Selection varies by location

afc logo sush

A lot goes on in our lives, sometimes without us even knowing it.

Like the fact that our hearts beat 115,200 times per day, that we are bombarded with eight advertisements per hour, or that the “Publix brand” sushi we’ve been buying actually comes from AFC—“the largest supplier of fresh sushi to supermarkets nationwide.”

Founded back in 1986, AFC has since expanded to an international level. Their goal? To provide high quality sushi with a variety you can’t get from competitors. Conveniently packaged, the AFC brand keeps the busy American schedule in mind, along with the concept of healthiness, as most AFC dishes are concocted from low fat, low calorie ingredients. It’s much healthier than fried chicken, at any rate.

miami beach AFC sushi displayChances are, if you’re a sushi addict and you’ve been to Publix, you’ve either tasted or seen this brand. It’s especially prominent in Florida, with specialized chefs and AFC goods located at over one hundred Publix locations and several universities (including the likes of UCF, UF, UNF, and USF).

As an ignorant-until-recently consumer of the AFC brand, I’ve had my fair share of their variety. And, boy, does AFC know variety! Quality of flavor aside, AFC showcases an impressive array of maki, inari, sashimi, and nigiri—everything from the staple Crunchy Roll, California Roll, Cream Cheese Roll, and Rainbow Roll, to more traditional/modern combos like the Blueberry Roll, Happy Manga Roll, and Chili Roll.

Of course, AFC is more than happy to provide trained sushi chefs and fresh ingredients to each of their locations, and a lot of the quality control—in my personal experience—relies on just how trained those chefs are. I’ve had both stellar and stupefying experiences with AFC’s brand, and it’s all varied by location.

My best bet, and automatic go-to for AFC sushi, is Publix. I’ve yet to eat a tray of fresh sushi from Publix that’s turned me off. In addition to the clean layout of their sushi counters, Publix also allows for unobscured views of the sushi chefs at work, which is a pleasant bonus.

But, obviously, it’s not the decorum or friendliness that keeps me returning to Publix, but the flavor. Publix’s AFC sushi always tastes chilled—not lukewarm with a touch a coldness, but literally fresh. I especially love their Cream Cheese Roll because the cream cheese is firm and strengthened by its stay in the icebox. Add to that a sliver of crunchy cucumber and a moist piece of salmon, and the Cream Cheese Roll is one of AFC’s tastiest in all the simplest ways.

AFC sushi dragon roll and red rock

AFC also slices the smoothest, most fat-free portions of fish for their maki, though I more commonly notice this in their nigiri. Long strips of salmon are supple enough to slice through like butter, making it easy to divide in pieces, even with chopsticks. Even heartier fish, like tuna, rarely give opposition. It’s true that I’ve encountered the very rare portion of tough meat, but only in about a 1/200 ratio—not often enough to discourage my dining.

It’s worth noting, too, that AFC loves sauces and knows how to use them. White sauce, eel sauce, and spicy mayo are the most common contenders for the zig-zagged topping treatment, and, of course, sesame seeds frequent most rolls. What I love about AFC’s sauce, though, is its strength. Eel sauce is sweet. Spicy mayo is hot. White sauce is creamy. AFC’s sauce is what it is—very pronounced, perhaps too much so for those seeking a more subtle flavor, but I find it flatters the maki rolls nicely. I’m a consumer who has difficulties with the spicy mayo, only because of my sensitive taste buds (and because AFC puts the “spicy” in “spicy mayo”), but that hasn’t stopped me from single-handedly devouring an entire tray of the stuff. It’s delicious, even if it does set my eyes watering by the end.

IMG_0902If you’re a glutton for punishment, and can stand the blazing heat that I can’t, then you’ll be happy to know that each tray of AFC sushi comes with a lump of ultra-hot wasabi. I’ve not been able to fully experience its flavor, but I hear it’s pretty spicy. Given the inferno I experienced from consuming an adjoining piece of pickled ginger that brushed the wasabi, I can only be inclined to believe that.

Another nicety of AFC is their Chef Samplers. These little bundles of joy come in all shapes in sizes (seriously, the best one I ever had was in the shape of a large heart) and contain three to five different types of maki and nigiri. Going back to my heart-shaped example, that Sampler alone contained Rainbow Roll, Crunchy Roll, and a few pieces of a Salmon Avocado something-or-other. Many of these sampler packs throw nigiri into the mix, usually in a Rainbow Roll/five-piece nigiri combo. If you’re new to AFC and want a good bearing on what they have to offer, I can’t recommend the Chef’s Sampler trays enough.

Despite my good experiences at Publix, though, I’ve had some equally bad experiences at my local university (UCF), where AFC sushi more often tastes lukewarm and where baby shrimp may or may not contain lingering bits of shell.

It’s true that one of the best AFC sushi trays I ever had came from a university storefront. A spicy, red-and-yellow pepper-topped roll, it was. And even though my mouth was on fire by the final bite, I didn’t regret a moment (or dollar) of the experience.

AFC happy mango roll rainbow roll

Unfortunately, that experience was in the minority. Most of the rolls I’ve consumed from the UCF fronts since then were pasty, lukewarm, tasteless, or chewy. I love eel, but the Eel Roll was tough and crunchy, missing its sweet, chicken-like texture. I don’t say “no” to a Baby Shrimp Roll, but found those at my university to be fishy and with bits of shell still intact. Sushi is meant to be a soothing dish that marries unique flavors, but I more often found myself skeptically biting into UCF’s AFC sushi, afraid of what my tongue and teeth might encounter next.

I haven’t had a batch of UCF’s AFC sushi since my last fateful experience sent me throwing away a few uneaten rolls. My mouth still waters every time I pass the colorful AFC counter—sometimes I even get the false hope that I’ll taste something amazing—but in the end I remind myself that it’s a dangerous crapshoot and head off to Sus Hi Eatstation for some guaranteed goodness.

In short, AFC is still my go-to for “instant” sushi, and with a Publix at nearly every corner of Florida, it’s more likely you’ll get the high-quality stuff, too. In my experience, a lot depends upon how cold the iceboxes keep the sushi and how skilled the chefs are at keeping out the fatty flesh and shell bits. The chefs at Publix seem to have this down to a fine art, though I can’t say the same for the chefs at UCF.

If you’re craving sushi, drive over to your local Publix and nab a fresh, cold tray of your favorite maki roll. AFC has an enormous variety, and even offers cooked and vegetable rolls for more specific tastes. You’re guaranteed to find something you love without having to pay the price of a Japanese sushi restaurant.

AFC sushi ultimate chili roll and vegetable wrap

Check out the AFC Franchise Corp website

Find an AFC Sushi location near you

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Author: Casey Covel View all posts by

Casey Lynn Covel (known online as “Cutsceneaddict”) is an award-winning, published writer, avid reader, and aspiring author. She runs a nerdy writing blog called Meek-Geek and founded PROJECT: Magic Kingdom Hearts in 2012. When she’s not writing for Geeks Under Grace, Florida Geek Scene, Beneath the Tangles, or FROM JAPAN, she enjoys cosplaying, and has won several awards for her work. Follow her on Instagram for her latest cosplay endeavors. #meekischic

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