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Mt. Fuji Still Has Little Rock’s Heart

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I have been writing for OnlyinArk.com the past seven years, and crazy enough, this is my first feature piece on the beloved Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant in Little Rock. The place has been around since 1986, and by most accounts, is the very first sushi shop in Arkansas. More importantly, it is one of those rare restaurants that just about everyone loves.

Seriously, not that I am on the hunt for haters, but Mt. Fuji truly is adored by all. And I can see why. Countless visits through the years have yielded spot-on experiences, ones with warm, friendly service in a comfortable atmosphere. The food is simple, and the cost, even by sushi standards, doesn’t put a strain on the wallet. There is even a little market at the front of the restaurant, a place to buy a few items, ingredients, or random candies. And who doesn’t love a nice market?

As for the food, my focus is typically on raw fish, but there is so much more to the menu. I recommend starting out with an order of miso soup, seaweed salad, and vegetable tempura. The latter is a plateful of fried veggies like sweet potato, broccoli, and eggplant. They are oh so good dipped into the accompanying yuzu sauce.

The house salad, which, if I’m being frank, is a mundane plate of mixed lettuce, is elevated to another stratosphere by a fresh ginger dressing. Seriously, I could drink that dressing by the shot, but alas, such acts are not exactly socially acceptable inside a restaurant.

Soup lovers will enjoy the Nabeyahi udon and pork ramen. Both are rich, hearty soups, which is somewhat of a detriment when you think about it, as an order of either prohibits focusing on the star of the menu: sushi. Going to Mt. Fuji and not ordering sushi is a sin. Half the fun is sitting in a booth, which doubles as a secluded nook, and peering over every few seconds to watch the chefs construct rolls.

What rolls do I love? Honestly, half the time, I look down and just point to a random one on the menu. It’s all good to me, but if I absolutely had to get specific, the Spider Roll with fried soft-shell crab and the Spicy Tuna Roll are my favs. The Dragon Roll, with crab salad, cucumber, tuna, salmon, and avocado, is another highlight, but as I said, everything is a winner. Just don’t expect one of the oversized, super elaborate rolls. I love those, too, but Mt. Fuji’s version is simple, reliable, and more straightforward. In car terms, think of their rolls as a Honda Civic. Sure, it’s nice to drive a BMW, but the Civic gets you to where you need to be, and it won’t break the bank.

During lunch, the $14 Sushi Special is the way to go. A bento box of select rolls and pieces provides a perfect combo of taste and affordability. That is what Mt. Fuji is about for these past 38 years, taste and affordability.

And good news, as many folks know, Breckenridge Village, the outdoor shopping area where Mt. Fuji resides, is getting a massive makeover in 2023. With it, the restaurant will be moving a few doors down to the old Greenhaw’s space. Things should be even bigger and better, which is great news for folks who love the restaurant.

Which is everyone.

Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant
10301 N Rodney Parham (Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 227-6498
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and one daughter, Sydney. His oldest daughter, Natalie, is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago. He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, twelve years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for ten years. During that time, he’s written for publications like Little Rock Soiree, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, and The Local Palate.

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