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We Tried It: Acme sashimi-style smoked salmon

Our editors liked what they saw and tasted, but there is room for improvement.

This week, editors Drew Cherry, John Fiorillo and Avani Nadkarni taste tested Blue Hill Bay brand sashimi-style smoked salmon from Acme Smoked Fish of New York City.

The sashimi-style smoked salmon slices are made from premium Atlantic salmon loins and can be eaten by themselves, or with your favorite condiment, or with rice, in a nigiri style preparation.

 AvaniDrewJohnJudges' consensus
Packaging4.54.54.1The packaging excels with its clean lines and premium feel.
Preparation54.75Ready-to-eat product was a winner, and works great on its own or with another dish.
Eating experience4.344.3High-quality smoked salmon, but to truly deliver on the sushi experience, two judges thought a little less smoke might be in order.
Value4.24.74.2We were pleasantly surprised by the price point -- this is right where consumers need it to be.
TOTAL1817.917.6Final score: 17.83

Bottom Line ...

Avani: I really enjoyed this product. The packaging is simple and clean, with all pertinent information clearly labeled. The salmon is easily visible through the front of the package, which is always a plus.

When I first opened it, it looked like a resealable plastic packaging, which I was excited about. I didn't finish the package in one sitting and it would have been great to be able to reseal the package.

The smell and taste is great, as well. The thicker, sashimi-style cut of the smoked salmon stands out and is versatile. I ate it both straight from the packaging and in an omelet.

I did not try it with the soy sauce, as it's already high in sodium (1,490 mg per 5-ounce serving) and the sodium packet makes it even higher (1,790mg), and it has a great flavor on its own.

Overall, I think it's a great value and would buy it.

Drew: This is a fantastic concept, and Acme has a real opportunity to forge ahead into a unique pre-packed sushi topping arena. The Japanese text was a nice touch and the elegant rectangular box and dark colors sent a clear "premium" message. Consumers want sushi to be a bit special, and that's what this packaging promises.

You could clearly see the product through the window, which highlighted the quality and clean preparation. The sealed tray inside the box was a little confusing -- I wasn't sure if the sealed tray could be opened on its own. Cutting open smoked salmon is always a bit greasy and messy, so I think Acme would do itself a favor by investing in an easy, tear-away seal on the tray. It would continue to deliver on the premium packaging experience and heighten the anticipation of the product.

Once opened, what I found was a high-quality cold smoked salmon, and I think that's where Acme can tweak things. To really get that sushi look, smell and taste, and to distinguish it from simply cold smoked product, I'd prefer a little less smoke, and perhaps a slightly thicker cut. Since it's being branded as sashimi, I think consumers will expect a bit more of a clean flavor. But again, excellent flavor and texture.

I was surprised that this tray was considered a single portion -- it's a generous offering for $8.99 (€8.10), and certainly could suffice for a lunchtime meal on its own -- even more so with a bowl of rice (in fact, a tray half that size at a $4.99 (€4.50) price point might be even better for a lunch segment). If the placement is right, I can also see consumers wanting to impress friends and family with homemade sushi taking well to this.

John: I love the presentation of this product. I think the color choice for the packaging immediately connotes luxury and indulgence and strikes just the right tone for this higher-end product.

The see-through front panel enhances the product's presentation. The Japanese writing on the package seems a bit unnecessary, and I think the package would be enhanced with a simple serving suggestion of some kind.

The product looks and smells great when you remove it from the package.

The distinguishing factor of the product, which is technically just cold-smoked salmon, is the thickness and cut of the slices. The thicker, medallion-style slices have great bite and texture and could work in so many applications -- on bagels, as nigiri, as an appetizer with crackers.

The flavor is excellent, but could be a bit heavy on the smoke. The salt content is high, but the saltiness is blunted if you use the product with rice or cream cheese of other ingredient.

Overall, I love this product, and at between $8.99 (€8.10) and $9.99 (€9) at retail I think it is a good value as a meal all by itself or as an ingredient in other preparations.

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How does this taste test work?

Welcome to “We Tried It,” a feature brought to you by the editors of IntraFish. As the name implies, our editors taste test new and existing seafood products available. We try them, score them and comment on them.

We’re approaching our evaluation from the perspective of a typical consumer, meaning we will focus on ease of preparation, taste, packaging and value. We’ll utilize criteria developed to evaluate products for the annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood new products contest to measure a product’s packaging and presentation, eating experience and market potential.

Products will be scored on specific aspects in four categories -- packaging, preparation, eating experience and value -- on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The product will earn an overall total score based on the average of the judges' scores.

Products enter the 'We Tried It' test kitchen one of two ways: They are provided by the company producing them or purchased at retail markets by our editors. If you would like us to consider your product, please email john.fiorillo@intrafish.com.

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