While Little Rock resides in a land-locked state, sushi restaurants, both old and new, are all over the capital city. As an Arkansan transplant, I never expected to have so many sushi options when I moved here 10 years ago. From upscale restaurants to low-key neighborhood joints to regional chains, when it comes to sushi in Central Arkansas, we have some beautifully tasty choices. Don’t believe me? Check these out.
Little Rock’s original Japanese restaurant, Mt. Fuji, has been going strong since 1986, thanks to a loyal clientele that appreciates the restaurant’s simple, no-fuss approach to sushi. At Mt. Fuji, I tend to stick to the basics, and that includes pieces of salmon and tuna nigiri, as well as the Spider Roll, my favorite of its kind in town. The roll, which features fried soft-shell crab, is a perfect complement to the colorful Rainbow Roll, another one of my Mt. Fuji standouts, consisting of tuna, snapper, avocado, cucumber and crabstick. The restaurant also offers a surprisingly high number of vegetarian sushi roll options, like cucumber, sweet potato and asparagus for the herbivores in your life. Sushi lunch specials are a big draw, with several options all under $15. At Mt. Fuji, consistency has been king for the past 35 years, and I do not see this changing anytime soon, nor Little Rock’s love for this restaurant.
Out of all the sushi restaurants in the area, I visit Kemuri the most. Yes, the restaurant’s close proximity to my house helps, but my love for Kemuri really has everything to do with the restaurant’s ability to serve top-quality fish using a variety of elegant methods. Specialty rolls are a huge draw. That includes the Crazy Monkey, which is wrapped in foil and then set ablaze tableside. The roll is built with tempura shrimp, crabstick, avocado and masago aioli. The Crazy Lover, with spicy tuna, blue crab and avocado, is another winner. But honestly, you really cannot go wrong with any of the sushi options at Kemuri. And that includes the more traditional spicy salmon roll, crunchy shrimp roll, and a few pieces of salmon nigiri. The Yellow Tail appetizer is also not to be missed. This beautifully presented meal starter comes with thin slices of yellowtail swimming in yuzu soy sauce and topped with sliced jalapeno. Ever tried a sushiritto? Kemuri has this handheld, too, which is especially nice for those who are looking for the sushi roll eating experience but are not savvy with chopsticks. And if you are searching for a hip date idea, park yourself at Kemuri’s sushi bar and watch the masters as they continuously perfect their craft.
Oceans at Arthur’s
Much like Kemuri, Oceans at Arthur’s falls under that umbrella of upscale sushi restaurants priding itself in sophisticated presentation and delicious taste. Even after an address change to its current location at 16100 Chenal Parkway, Oceans remains one of the very best sushi restaurants for folks in west Little Rock and beyond. Make sure to split an order of the Alex Tower, a gorgeous appetizer constructed out of blue and spicy crab, avocado, mango and fried red snapper, along with eel and sweet chili sauces, spicy mayonnaise, fish eggs and onion. Oceans also specializes in a variety of chef select platters, including a 27-piece sashimi platter for two and the Oceans’ Shellfish Platter, along with the popular, lightly fried roll offerings like the Tiger with blue crab, jalapeno and avocado or the Mama Mia with smoked salmon, crab, cream cheese, habanero and avocado. No matter what you order, it will surely be accompanied by that signature, top-notch service associated with a Jerry Barakat restaurant.
Sushi Café and Sushi Café West
Sushi Café, with locations in the Heights neighborhood and off Cantrell Road in west Little Rock, has been a sushi mainstay in the area for years, with a menu featuring 40 specialty rolls. That list includes the Heights Roll with grilled eel, crabstick, cream cheese and crunchy batter, as well as one of Sushi Café’s newer concoctions, the Baked Geisha Roll. This one is loaded with shrimp tempura, blue crab, white tuna and yellowtail. Keep an eye on Sushi Café’s social media, as it typically offers sushi platters for special occasions and holidays, along with daily lunch specials like sushi combo platters and sushi bowls. Both restaurants feature a casual setting, with the newer location highlighted by a modern vibe that is ideal for a business meeting or a fun night with friends.
Kiyen’s expansive menu is an Asian food lover’s paradise, but make no mistake: top-quality sushi is at the heart of everything they do. The Golden Lobster Roll, with baked lobster, vegetables and spring mix, is topped with real blue crab and 14-karat gold flakes. It is an absolute beauty as well as an excellent conversation piece. But the Kathy Lee Roll, with fried shrimp, marinated scallops, crab and spicy mayo, just might be my personal favorite. The menu includes 30 specialty rolls, so you have plenty of options, including a sushi and sashimi combination special with six pieces of sushi and 15 pieces of sashimi, along with a salmon or tuna roll. Kiyen’s Tuna Tower Salad with Ahi tuna, mango and avocado is another menu item to consider.
Rock N Roll Sushi
Rock N Roll Sushi, a music-themed, southeast regional chain, has rocked Little Rock’s sushi scene over the past year with two successful location openings, one along Chenal Parkway and more recently in the SoMa district. Each restaurant has been well-received for the fun atmosphere and overall laid-back approach to sushi. As you might expect, rock ‘n’ roll predominates, both on the menu and in the décor. With a slogan of “Sushi Amplified,” what did you expect? All of your standard classic rolls are found on the menu, but the show stoppers, or “Headliners,” include the Kiss Roll, with shrimp tempura, spicy mayonnaise, eel sauce and crunchy flakes, along with my go-to order, the Axl Roll: a fried offering with shrimp tempura, salmon and cream cheese on the inside. As with the Kiss Roll, the Axl is topped with spicy mayonnaise, eel sauce and crunchy flakes. Several nigiri, or “Raw Tracks,” options are also available. If you are looking for a more kid-friendly sushi experience, Rock N Roll Sushi is the right spot.
Other Sushi Options
Why stop there? In addition to these spots, the Little Rock area offers a plethora of other sushi options just waiting to be checked out, including: Wasabi Sushi, Samu, Sekisui, Ninja Bar, Sky Modern Japanese, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi, and Kamikaito.