It was only a few months between opening the first Little Rock outlet of the Alabama-based Rock N Roll Sushi franchise chain, on Chenal Parkway, and the second, which took over the old Atlas Bar. , 1224 Main St.

A local real estate agent persuaded franchisees Chris Kramolis and Jason Alley to put sushi in SoMA. Atlas Bar left most of its kitchen equipment in place when it closed, and the new owners not only left the Art Deco-influenced bar untouched, but also built a matching small sushi bar at the back of it. the dining room with the same design and even the same materials.

The bar seats are on red vinyl chairs; dining room seating is on one of three black two-tray tables in the middle of the floor or in one of six black-on-black four-person cabins along the south wall. Up front there are two large bar tables and, on an elevated stage, an eight-seater round party table.

Sushi purists will no doubt be checking out the rock-themed menu, which features rolls with various rock-related names (like “Groupie”, rockin- sushi / “Metalhead,” “Sunset Strip,” / 17 / rockin-sushi / “Tour Bus” and “Velcro Pygmies”) under a header that says “Headliners” and highlights fan favorites with a hand gesture icon that represents “Greatest Hits”.

The Rock N Roll Sushi bar, with an Art Deco facade, is the only surviving relic of the Atlas Bar. Behind the bar, loudspeakers indicate that management could blast customers out of windows if they ever edited the music videos playing on television screens. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Eric E. Harrison)

Some, perhaps the same purists, will likely object to the distinctly non-Asian setting, which includes enlarged photos of rockers and TVs showing rock videos that also provide the soundtrack. Behind the Art Deco bar, the north wall is mostly made up of large speakers, implying management could blast customers out of the south windows if they so choose. Fortunately, the noise level is moderate enough that diners can place orders and even converse in hearing comfort.

We were willing to ignore our latent purism and found that the restaurant’s Asian-style, but not Asian-style food is actually quite good. But a warning: don’t mind the online menu, which always lists reels named after real rockers – “Crue,” sushi / “Axl,””Heart,” rockin-sushi / “Scorpions”, even the “Slash” roll that we enjoyed as a take-out item from the West Little Rock location a few months ago – which is no longer on offer. Prices have also gone up.

A remaining “Headliner” is the Thriller Roll ($ 12.95), shrimp tempura and cream cheese inside the rice and nori (seaweed) wrapper, topped with surimi (crab-like) ) cooked and grated, or as the menu artfully spells it, “crab meat”) crispy flakes, teriyaki-style eel sauce and spicy mayonnaise.

While this is more ordinary than exciting, we liked the combination of taste and texture, as well as the fact that the pieces were cut just small enough to be able to put an entire piece in your mouth at a time, that is – ie we are told, the correct way to consume a bun (too many sushi chefs cut these too big chunks).

Gallery: Sampling – Rock N Roll Sushi

We’ve paired our Thriller Roll with one of RNR’s “Classics”, an excellent Spider Roll ($ 10.95), crispy fried soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado, and spring mix in one wrap. of nori, topped with chili and eel sauces.

We do even better with the non-sushi offerings. The Twisted Tuna ($ 9.95), one of the “Greatest Hits” appetizers, was also one of our biggest hits here. What the menu presents as “our turn on the tuna tartare”, a large pile of chopped spicy red tuna (some soft and some chunky) “dammed” by a circular wall of fresh sliced ​​”coldly twisted” avocado, drizzled over. with sweeter chili and eel sauces.

We also enjoyed our Tataki Tuna ($ 8.95), seven slices of lightly seared ahi tuna laid out flat on a plate swimming, or at least wading, in a tangy ponzu sauce and topped with white and black sesame seeds. This and the Twisted Thon are sufficient for light entrees.

If you’re looking for something bigger, try the Hibachi Shrimp Solo ($ 16.95), one of the many single element and combo dishes under the “Hibachi Back Stage” heading. The medium sized shrimp, grilled veg, and mound fried rice all came in a tangy grill sauce (RNR’s orange-yum-yum sauce has a nice kick and actually complements the food). Our shrimp were a bit chewy indicating that they may have spent a little more time on the grill than they should have.

The Rock N Roll Sushi franchisees modeled and built the small sushi bar to match the "large" bar, with the same design and even the same materials.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Eric E. Harrison)

The Rock N Roll Sushi franchisees modeled and built the small sushi bar to match the “big” bar, with the same design and same materials. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Eric E. Harrison)

We can recommend the Miso Soup ($ 2.95), which is way better than the bland take-out concoction we got from the Chenal Parkway location. It has more seaweed and a lot more flavor, although it has the same little cubes of tofu.

We opted for the “traditional” preparation of our Edamame ($ 4.95) – steamed in the pod – but RNR is also grilling this soy appetizer. Steamed, it’s kissed with just the right amount of salt and with a small metal cup of fine teriyaki sauce sprinkled with green onions. This gave the edamame a good kick, but made for a somewhat messy appetizer experience.

There is also a “Raw Tracks” section which includes a very small selection – only five fish: tuna, fresh salmon, amberjack, smoked salmon and eel – nigiri (raw fish on rice) and sashimi (just raw fish).

Service was good in a few visits except on two occasions we didn’t have plates / chopsticks / napkins / soy sauce, all of which come to the table in a bundle, until we have been served with food (this shouldn’t happen). And the two times we packed uneaten take-home food, in plastic take-out containers, we weren’t provided or offered any take-out bags, chopsticks, napkins or sachets of gravy. soy. No Asian run sushi establishment that we know of would let this happen.

Rock N Roll Sushi downtown

  • Address: 1224 Main Street, Little Rock
  • Hours: 11 am-10pm every day
  • Cooked: Sushi, hibachi etc. with a rock’n’roll theme
  • Credit card: M, V, AE, D
  • Alcoholic beverages: Full bar, sake-inspired cocktails
  • Wheelchair access: Yes
  • (501) 900-7625 |

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