Soupy Sushi Salads and Ice That Costs $1

Comrades! The restaurant revolution is here. I, your fearless leader, Amateuriov Gourmetovich beg of you to consider the following two cases, both which threaten our peace and prosperity as well-meaning restaurant goers.

The first is the case of the soupy sushi salad:

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Recent visits to two of my local sushi joints have produced salads like the one you see above. These salads were not unlike salads I’ve had at sushi joints all across the country: one part salad to two parts sticky, gloppy dressing. Let’s ignore the iceberg lettuce for this discussion and concentrate on the matter at hand: why are sushi restaurants drowning us in dressing?

Hypothesis 1: Sushi became popular in the last decade because Americans are more health-conscious than they were previously; as a corollary, Americans appreciate a salad along with their “healthy” sushi lunch; Americans like sweet, gloppy food (see: ice cream sodas, banana splits, Marie’s creamy Italian); sushi restaurant managers, in an effort to appease American health-consciousness while simultaneously stimulating the American palate, concoct a sweet carrot dressing that they dump over a pre-sliced, pre-washed mix of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. Goal: minimal cost, maximum impact. Result: Americans drink sushi salads with a straw.

Hypothesis 2: This is an authentic pre-sushi salad, much like the pre-sushi salads you see in Japan. The excess dressing symbolizes American imperialism; the iceberg lettuce symbolizes karaoke. Don’t ask about the cucumber.

And now for the second case. Please study this bill from brunch at The Stone Park Cafe:

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Some might be alarmed by the $12 grits, but those grits had shrimp and cheese and were pretty excellent. No, we’re here to discuss the first and second items on the bill: the price discrepancy between the iced coffee and the coffee.

As you can see, coffee costs $1.50 and iced coffee costs $2.50.

Why is that?

Diana, who ordered the iced coffee, said it was just coffee on ice. Perhaps they’d brewed coffee earlier and refrigerated it? Was that coffee more special than the hot coffee poured into my mug?

We decided to ask our waiter. “Dear waiter,” I said. “Why is it that my hot coffee costs $1.50 and my companion’s iced coffee costs $2.50?”

The waiter, Robert V, shrugged and said, “I honestly don’t know.” Then he walked away.

Comrades, these are troubling times in the world of dining. We must rise up and save our salads from sloshing, we must demand fair prices for iced coffee beverages. Who’s with me? Who’ll challenge the status quo? No one?

Ya, that’s what I figured.

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13 comments

  1. well, iced coffee is traditionally brewed double strong to counteract the weakening effects of melting ice. so that may be it.

    or they may just be money grubbing.

  2. sorry to sound harsh but the reason restaurants can charge more for iced coffee is because people will pay for it. put it this way, you have a business, and you should run it to the best of your ability. this means that if people would pay 2.50 for iced coffee, even though you just as easily make a profit on it by charging 1.50, then you probably should charge 2.50. (unless you’re doing a special or something).

    it doesn’t have to actually be a more expensive product to make in order to charge the customers more. pricing is set by supply and demand. just go look at the price of beef short rib dishes throughout the city from 10 years ago to today. sure, part of that is the demand for short ribs has gone up a lot, while supply of coffee is almost always abundant. still, people come to see braised beef short ribs as a delicious and hearty dish and are more willing to pay for it.

    so when people stop ordering iced coffee or when regulars keep telling the management that extra for iced coffee sucks, then maybe it’ll be the same as hot coffee.

    as for salads in japanese restaurants, don’t know about how other ppl feel about it, but i love the dressing. if they put a regular vinaigrette on that thing, i would never touch it.

  3. The iced coffee reminds me of the “Americano” coffee, which is basically an espresso with a shot of water in it … and they charge you 50 cents more than an espresso for it.

  4. The iced coffee thing is weird, but I thought that iced coffee is generally brewed different. Anyhow, I stopped ordering salads at sushi joints because of the dressing dilemma. Yes, it’s good dressing, but I don’t need a cup of it for a side salad.

  5. How were the biscuits and gravy? My bf is obsessed with that stuff. I make it fairly well but it’s just too much work sometimes when you want some grub. Where’s the Stone Park Cafe?

  6. Maybe you can ask for regular coffee, and then ask them to bring you some ice… if you’re very, very patient, and you keep bugging them for more ice… well, eventually you’ll have iced coffee, right?

    I’m always annoyed when I get charged extra for dipping sauce at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. I know that tiny cup of cold marinara isn’t worth $0.89 – it’s highway robbery!

  7. iced coffee takes like 12 hours to brew properly. whereas hot coffee is done much quicker. thats why it costs more.

  8. iced coffee takes like 12 hours to brew properly. whereas hot coffee is done much quicker. thats why it costs more.

    there was a whole thing about it in the nytimes about two months back. you’ll need timeselect to look it up, but i swear its true.

  9. I just noticed the iced coffee phenomemon this summer as well — it’s everywhere though — delis, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts. And these are places that are definitely not putting the extra effort in to cold brew or double brew it.

    On that note, I made my first homemade batch of cold brewed iced coffee (per the NY times article’s instructions) this week, and it is awesome. In fact I’m drinking it right now.

  10. The iced coffee costs more because, even if it’s the same coffee they serve hot, it takes twice the preparation of hot coffee. It has to be brewed, then chilled, stored, poured over ice, etc.

    And besides, you paid 12 bucks for biscuits and gravy, so clearly you have a big sign on your forehead that says, “SUCKER.” Just kidding.

  11. Depending on how they brew the iced coffee, it may take the 12 hours that Brian mentioned. However it is made, generally it involves more labor and certainly more real estate. Cold brewing involves grinding the beans differently, stuffing the ground coffee into a silk bag (or old pair of pantyhose) and letting the whole thing steep in a big tub of water, in the fridge, for 12 hours or so. Hot brewing has the same start as hot coffee, but then you have to pour the hot coffee into another container, then put it in the fridge. Now, if someone were charging more for an iced latte vs a hot one, that would be truly ridiculous.

  12. I’m going to add to this, now that I’m cold-brewing my second batch — it seems to take a LOT of coffee per batch in order to make it strong enough. (I could be doing something wrong, but let’s assume for a minute that I’m not.) Depending on what kind of coffee they’re using to start with, that might drive up the cost. I would imagine that Stone Park Cafe would be using some something that’s a step up (in taste and cost) from Folger’s.