Experience Sushi Cafe’s Rockin’ Rolls

We think our fellow diner said it best during our recent lunch excursion to Sushi Cafe in the Heights. “If this Naruto roll was a man, I’d marry it.” We concurred.

Simple in composition but complex in flavor, the Naruto roll is made with thinly sliced cucumber wrapped around a choice of crabstick, salmon, tuna or yellowtail and avocado and served with Sushi Cafe’s house-made citrus soy sauce.

Unburdened by rice, nori or cream cheese, the Naruto roll is fresh, cool and crunchy. The zesty garden-fresh cucumber is perfectly complemented by the savory fish and tangy citrus soy. The roll is handsome in appearance, refreshing in flavor and perhaps our favorite roll at Sushi Cafe. That’s a hard call to make; each different roll we tried was so uniquely delicious!

In addition to the Naruto, we sampled a plate exploding with two spicy rolls: the Dynamite and the Volcano (forgive our pun; we couldn’t help ourselves). The presentation for both was creative and colorful. The Volcano roll, loosely resembling the natural phenomenon for which it is named, spilled over with spicy tuna, salmon and hot sauce. The flavor was pleasantly spicy and not too fishy. The Dynamite roll, composed of lightly fried yellowtail and topped with jalapenos, spicy crabmeat and hot sauce, was bursting with color and flavor. Oh, how we love spicy crabmeat! The spice was kicked up a notch or two in this roll (maybe because of the fresh jalapeno), and it was like a pleasant punch to our taste buds. We kept coming back for more.

Because we were in the Heights (and we were curious), we had to try the Heights roll. Made with grilled eel, crabstick and cream cheese lightly battered and topped with barbecue sauce and sesame seeds, the roll was mild, creamy and slightly sweet from the smoky molasses sauce. Although we’ve never really liked the flavor of eel, we enjoyed it in this concoction. We think it was the cream cheese and barbecue sauce that balanced the flavor so well. Because of its mild manner, the roll was a welcome break from the spice of the Dynamite and Volcano, adding a nice smooth finish to our tour of rolls

To accompany our meal, we ordered the Agedashi tofu, lightly fried tofu topped with Hokkaido fish flakes and scallions and sitting in a pool of flavorful tempura sauce. We all agreed that the tofu consistency was just right: somewhat crispy on the outside and silky smooth on the inside. The sweet, slightly acidic tempura sauce, paired with the light and salty fish flakes, really enhanced the flavor of the whole dish.

We also tried the green tea soba noodles, which were billed as a “light dish with lots of vegetables.” That’s exactly right. We were served a mound of green tea noodles accented with red pepper strips, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms. We liked that the noodles weren’t drowned in a sea of heavy sauce; they were simple and light. The green tea flavor was mild and the vegetables crisp. It was a great anytime meal.

Although we tasted mainly traditional Japanese fare during our lunch, we think it’s important to point out that Sushi Café also serves an array of American-influenced menu items, like their Kobe hot dog, famous red snapper tacos, Kobe steaks and Kobe burgers. We’ve heard rave reviews among locals for their burgers. Next time, we’ll try one—and maybe another sushi roll as well. How can we resist such amazing rolls?

P.S.: Omakase, a Japanese word that loosely translates to “chef’s choice,” is also an item featured on Sushi Café’s menu. A perfect selection for sushi connoisseurs with a taste for adventure, this dish is comprised of sashimi, nigiri and a maki roll selected by the executive chef.

Owners Manual
Robert Tju, owner, Sushi Cafe

• A native of Malaysia, Tju first came to central Arkansas to study business management at the University of Central Arkansas. He graduated in 1998, moved to Little Rock in 2000 and opened Sushi Café in the Heights in 2007.

• Tju has a wife, Grace, and two daugters, 4-year-old Happy, and 1-year-old Doy.

• His favorite Sushi Cafe roll to eat is the Dynamite roll.

• Of the 25 specialty rolls the restaurant makes, Tju says Yellow Submarine is his favorite to put together. He enjoys making rolls with a tropical feel that include ingredients like coconut-crusted shrimp and mango.

• Tju says all of his chefs are highly trained, but the chef-in-charge is Elias Guzman. Make sure you ask him about his specialties.

• Thursday through Sunday are the busiest nights.

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