Time out for Sushi!

Of all the places in the world, who would have thought that one could find excellent sushi in Little Rock, Arkansas? To my pleasant surprise that’s just what happened on a recent but unexpected trip to Jon’s home state.

It had been a long week on the road via planes, trains and automobiles; eating way too much junk food. Jane and Michael Stern’s RoadFood.com couldn’t even provide us with relief by recommending any good diners between Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida nor between Little Rock, Arkansas and Shreveport, Louisiana.

Jon’s cousin, Sissy, suggested this place called Sushi Cafe. It not only serves sushi, but rib-eye steaks, rack of lamb, and burgers as well. I was a bit skeptical. We arrived about 8:00 pm and were greeted by a friendly enough fellow, standing outside, who welcomed us in and had a place for us at a booth. We even had a bird’s eye view of the sushi bar.

Given our state of mind, we immediately asked if the bartender knew how to make a Side Car. He had never heard of such a drink, but was willing to give it a shot as he had all the ingredients; Grand Marnier, Courvoisier, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and sugar (for the rim). Giving him the recipe, we sent him off to attempt this classic libation. Our attentive server came back moments later with a respectable rendition. It was tasty enough that I suggested that it should be added to their cocktail menu.

Blue DragonWhile we were enjoying our drinks and pondering the menu, we noticed a beautiful plate of food at the sushi bar. Our inquiry confirmed that the vision we had was indeed Tuna Tartare, or as the menu stated, Hawaiian Fusion Big Eye Tuna Tartare, $13. It looked too gorgeous not to order, so we did just that! Plus since I am teaching a Sake Pairing class coming up at the end of the month at Cooks of Crocus Hill, and one of the recipes will be a Tuna Tartare Napoleon, it was research.

Arriving at our table it was a beautiful sight to behold: exquisite in color and texture. However, with three of us having forks, it was devoured in short order. “Wait, wait, what was the sauce again?” I asked. Oh nertz, too late!

We are also suckers for soybeans; this time it was an order of Spicy Edamame, $5 with soy ginger, hot sauce and chili flakes. They were a spicy treat and another recipe I may have to add to my sake class.

The website of the Sushi Cafe touts over 180 menu creations and I believe it, reading over their extensive menu. We ended up ordering a variety of specialty maki rolls; including a Rainbow (California topped with tuna, salmon, snapper, and yellowtail), a Blue Dragon (coconut shrimp, cabstick, cream cheese, kiwi on top with a sweet chili vinaigrette), Kamikaze Roll (grilled eel, crabstick) and a Cowboy (mango, New York Strip). If the Kamikaze and Cowboy roll seem a little, sparse — it’s because I lost the maki menu and these two rolls are not on their website. I did email the cafe asking for the ingredient list, but never heard from them… sorry!

Anyway, my question is why did the tuna, salmon, snapper, etc., taste so good? It doesn’t seem possible that getting those fish in Little Rock can be any faster than getting them in Minneapolis. Regardless, every morsel was delicious and a welcome respite from funeral hot casserole (hot dish here in the north country). So if you ever find yourself in Little Rock, Arkansas and need your sushi fix, be sure to check out the Sushi Cafe. It Rocks! Sushi Cafe, 823 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR, 72207. (501.663.9888).

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