If the Coen brothers decided to open a sushi place, they’d invent something like the Minnesota/sushi/burrito mash up that is SotaRol. It’s easy to envision the Asian millennial pictured on the restaurant's website as a character in an upcoming season of Fargo. Recently caught fish in hand, he's clad in a plaid flannel shirt over a chef's coat topped off with a Russian-style fur hat.
And just as Fargo the TV drama is loosely based on Fargo the movie, the fare at SotaRol is loosely based on various Asian cuisines, with a little Mexican thrown in for good measure. There’s Japanese sushi and Korean kimchi along with familiar flavors like teriyaki and cilantro. And you can get it all rolled up in a SotaRito, a burrito-like creation wrapped in edible soy paper.
The menu is divided into sushi rolls, bowls, and the aforementioned SotaRitos; there are also a few snack options like edamame and tater tots. The restaurant promises no MSG, no GMOs, and no gluten-containing ingredients. What it does offer is a fresh alternative to fried fast food and a nice change from your Chipotle rice bowl.
Is it authentic? Well, sushi snobs might quibble with the idea of sustainably sourced tuna being rolled into a SotaRito, but you can’t argue with the fact that for $10.75, the spicy tuna with jalapeno, cucumber, tempura flakes, and spicy mayo is a tasty, filling, and reasonably priced meal. If raw fish isn’t your thing, you can choose from a variety of other filling options, like shrimp tempura, chicken teriyaki, and 5-spice pork.
The fish takes center stage in the sushi rolls. The menu features lots of sushi bar standbys like a California roll and a shrimp tempura roll. Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy options like a sweet potato tempura roll and the Sota veggie, with eggplant, asparagus, Asian pear, and cucumber topped with mango and avocado. The sushi might not rival a roll prepared by a master at a hardcore sushi bar, but I’d head to SotaRol instead of one of those all-you-can-eat sushi buffets.
Bowls are served with a choice of white or brown rice, or for those forgoing carbs, a shredded cabbage mix. Bowls are rounded out with vegetables and proteins like Korean rib eye and lemongrass chicken. The tater tot bowl is a sly nod to the Minnesota connection, with tots, 5-spice pork, kimchi, bacon chutney, spicy mayo, and sriracha. The kimchi and sauces are made in-house, another detail that highlights a commitment to freshness.
The space at SotaRol manages to feel open and airy despite its small footprint. The interior is a combination of calming shades of gray and recessed lighting, with a few punches of plaid for contrast. As is the routine at fast casual restaurants, you order at the counter, find a seat, and your food finds you. Counter staffers are knowledgeable and happily help first-timers navigate the menu; the made-to-order food comes out of the open kitchen efficiently and nicely presented. To-go orders come in stylish containers (more plaid!) that are much classier than your typical Styrofoam clamshell.
SotaRol is owned by the company behind Agra Culture and Yogurt Lab, two local mini-chains with regional and perhaps national ambitions. Right now, the only outpost of SotaRol is a block off of Edina’s 50th & France shopping mecca (technically in Minneapolis), but don’t be surprised if more start popping up in the metro.
5005 Ewing Ave. S., Minneapolis