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Numbers Game: Answer

An average 6-piece inside-out ‘uramaki’ sushi roll (rice on the outside, nori on the inside, as pictured at right) at a Japanese restaurant in the United States contains 1 cup of rice.

(Note: 1 serving of rice = 1/2 cup)

This is a perfect example of a relatively healthy, low-calorie Asian meal undergoing a monstrous caloric metamorphosis upon arriving to the United States.

In Japan, the vast majority of sushi is eaten nigiri style (this is where rice is compacted into a small rectangle underneath each piece of fish) or maki style (nori/seaweed on the outside of each piece.)

It’s also significant that maki rolls are approximately a half or a third of the size of inside out varieties common on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

This figure means that 6 pieces of an inside-out roll pack in slightly less than 200 calories from the rice alone.

Order two of those puppies and you are up to 4 servings of grains, per USDA pyramid standards.

Another calorie shocker? Spicy rolls contain anywhere from 100 to 150 moe calories than their traditional counterparts — the special sauce is basically mayonnaise with a kick.



  1. Catherine said on November 12th, 2008

    wow, 1 cup per roll? Very interesting! Although compared to other restaurant options I still file sushi/sashimi (no rice) as extremely good, healthy options. Obviously if you’re getting spicy mayo-based sauce or tempura coated veggies it’s not so great, but sushi is all good in my book.

  2. Andy Bellatti said on November 12th, 2008

    Yes, it is certainly possible to have a healthy sushi lunch that does not go overboard on calories.

    I always recommend starting out with a filling appetizer (i.e.: edamame, chicken/tofu/shrimp skewers with peanut sauce).

    To take that idea even further, I often suggest that, if time allows it, people order appetizers first and wait until they finish them to order sushi rolls.

  3. seeleelive (for the love of peanut butter) said on November 12th, 2008

    i was wrong–i guessed 1.5 cups! But still, it just doesn’t look like THAT much rice! I guess 1 cup of grains is standard for any dinner..so i do not see the harm in that. Have you read In Defense of Food?

  4. Andy Bellatti said on November 12th, 2008


    A cup of grains with a meal is very typical, but many people enjoy 2 or 3 rolls during a sushi meal (which adds up to 4 or 6 servings of grains.)

    And with so many sushi restaurants in the US now offering jumbo rolls, that figure could even be higher.

    Too many people think sushi is only about fish, not taking into account that rice also has calories.

    The reason why it doesn’t look like that much rice is because it is very compacted (and, again, this only refers to the inside-out rolls… traditional maki with seaweed on the outside contains about half as much rice.)

    To answer your other question — I have read most of “In Defense of Food.”

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