In our Lunching in Little Rock blog series, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the city’s best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael ate lunch at Big on Tokyo in the Little Rock River Market. Click here to read more in this series. Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
This week, we had everyone from satellite offices to Little Rock for a whole company meeting. As we gathered together at lunchtime, we began the dance of asking everyone where they would like to go. Each person was too polite to suggest something they actually wanted to eat. Finally, someone suggested we go to the River Market so that everyone could eat at whichever vendor they preferred. I parked the car, paid, then ran into someone I knew outside, so when I finally got my food and made it to our table, I realized we had all gone to the same place: Big On Tokyo.
The River Market was full and bustling and Big on Tokyo was a popular attraction. With a robust menu, the stand specializes in fresh sushi, several types of fried rice, dumplings and boba tea. The tea is hand-pulled right in front of you and it’s like a little show before lunch. Most at my table were enjoying huge bowls of chicken, shrimp and vegetable fried rice. Personally, I couldn’t decide between the rice and the sushi, so I chose both. I got a small order of the chicken fried rice and a roll of the crispy shrimp sushi. The small order was a mound of perfectly seasoned and fried rice with generous bits of chicken for flavoring. At many restaurants, the rice is too heavy, but this was light, crisp and flavorful. The sushi was truly a work of skill. Hand rolled with the freshest ingredients right before your eyes, I had a hard time not hopping the counter and eating it straight from the cutting board. The shrimp was crunchy and bursting with flavor, the veggies were crisp, and there was a mild spicy sauce on top that really set off all the flavors. When the first thing you order is so good, it’s hard to try new things on your second trip.
This week, load as many people as you can into your car and head to the River Market for lunch. Don’t waste time worrying about where everyone wants to go, what dietary restrictions people have, or whether your friends are picky eaters. The River Market has something for everyone – but don’t be surprised if everyone ends up at Big On Tokyo.