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Succulent sushi at Hanaroo

Submitted by Victoria Mugambi on April 8, 2017 – 11:34 amNo Comment

Price Rating: $-$$

($ = $5 or less, $$ = $6-$15, $$$ = $16-$25, $$$$ = $26-$35, $$$$$ = $36+)

Downtown Little Rock is home to some truly special hidden gems, and one of those gems is Hanaroo Sushi Bar. Located on Capitol Avenue in the heart of downtown Little Rock, Hanaroo is a seemingly unspectacular sushi joint serving Japanese and Korean cuisine. Their vast menu includes not only Asian cuisine staples such as fried rice and gyoza (pan-fried dumplings), but also Korean specialties, lunch bento boxes and, of course, sushi.

On my visit to Hanaroo I ordered the Una-Q sushi roll combo, which comes with ginger dressing salad and five pieces of nigiri, and the Cherry Blossom Maki roll.

When the waitress suggested I try my side salad with the ginger dressing, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. It’s a combination I would have never thought to try but I’m so glad I did. The dressing was sweet, refreshing, and tangy and brought a much needed depth to the store-bought salad mix.

Highly satisfied with the flavors from the salad dressing alone, I was eager to try the Una-Q sushi roll. The Una-Q, also commonly known as an Unagi roll, featured cooked eel, cucumber, eel sauce and a hint of teriyaki. The roll was pretty good; the teriyaki was a bit strong, but the eel was tender and the cucumber provided a nice contrasting crunch.

The Una-Q combo also came with five pieces of nigiri; tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab and snapper. Nigiri is a simple type of sushi where thin slices of seafood (often raw) are placed on top of rice and “glued” together by a little wasabi. The nigiri at Hanaroo were simply divine; the seafood was fresh with no “fishy” odor (a good indicator of whether the fish is fresh or not), and very tender. The wasabi wasn’t too overpowering, but gave the sushi a nice kick that was complimented well with the slightly vinegared rice.

The Cherry Blossom Maki came last. The roll included butter tuna, crab, eel, cucumber, salmon, avocado and eel sauce. The roll looked very appealing, with the pink salmon, green avocado, and dark brown eel sauce all combining to hint at the roll’s namesake. The flavors all went well together, but the eel sauce wasn’t evenly distributed along the roll, making some bits less flavorful than others.

All things considered, I give Hanaroo a 4 out of 5. The sushi wasn’t the best I’d ever had, but it was the best I’d had for the price, and gave more expensive sushi bars in Little Rock a run for their money. The restaurant is a “hole in the wall” spot and, as a result, doesn’t have the best ambiance. The service was also a bit slow considering the time I was there and the number of patrons, but the staff are kind and make you feel like family.

If you’d like to sink your teeth into some decadent sushi at an amazing price, visit Hanaroo Sushi Bar at 205 W. Capitol Ave. Their hours are from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch Monday-Friday, and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner Monday-Saturday.


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