Foodie Travels: Rockin’ Rolls Sushi, Charlotte, N.C.

Sushi is not one of my top choices when dining out, simply because I have a difficult time feeling fulfilled by a couple handfuls of rolls.

Rockin’ Rolls Sushi Express in Charlotte, N.C., solves that problem by offering an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet that is, no doubt, one of the most unique dining experiences we’ve had anywhere in all our travels across the United States.

You pay one price (about $18 per person on a weekend day) and can consume as much as you like. Drinks are located in a central spot near the front of the restaurant. You take a number to your table, and you sit down next to a long conveyor belt that transports all kinds of unique sushi rolls past all booths. When you see something you want, you open the door and grab it as the sushi travels past. You can use chopsticks, forks or your hands to eat.

Among some of the choices we enjoyed: the Raleigh Roll, with spicy tuna and spicy tilapia; the Philly Roll, with smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber; the Naughty Crab Roll, with crab salad, cucumber and chili pepper; the Las Vegas Roll, with kani and cream cheese, deep fried; the Richmond Roll, with tempura, kani and spicy tuna; and the Crazy Monkey Roll, with deep fried banana, which you couldn’t even really tell was banana. That’s just a sampling, as there are many more!

Have someone in your group who doesn’t like sushi? That’s no problem. There’s a touchscreen ordering device at each booth, and you can use it to order as much from the kitchen as you like, with no extra charge from your entry price. We sampled hibachi chicken with fried rice and vegetables, edamame, crab rangoons, spring rolls, shrimp tempura and more, all ordered and delivered hot and fresh to our table in just a few minutes. You can order multiple dishes at a time or one by one. We dare say the kitchen selections were hotter and fresher than at any buffet or hibachi restaurant we’ve ever visited.

The staff here was also incredibly kind. Each person greeted us, thanked us for our patronage and told us to return to see them again. We would absolutely do that, and there are also locations in Raleigh and Durham farther east in North Carolina.

I consider this an expensive meal as far as most dining choices we frequent. However, as I told my wife Molly during and afterward, this was an experience that we paid for. You will always pay a little bit more for an experience, and this was absolutely worth it.

Perhaps the detail that stuck out most for me in reflection was how fresh the sushi tasted. I didn’t know what to expect from a conveyor belt of sushi, mostly because I’d never tried it before. We were both pleasantly surprised and exceedingly so.

Some people tell us they don’t like sushi, and we’d tell all those people they should try a few rolls here to make that assertion for certain. The worst you’ll end up with is an all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet of familiar favorites like teriyaki chicken or shrimp and those incredible crab rangoons. Rockin’ Rolls gives you that backup option if sushi really isn’t for your palette.

As we said, this is one of the most unique #FoodieScore dining experiences we’ve enjoyed, and we highly recommend you check it out, too. I was both full (though not too much because sushi is kind of light) and fulfilled when I walked out the door.

Rockin’ Rolls Sushi Express, 1523 Elizabeth Avenue, Suite 130, Charlotte, N.C. (NOTE: Street parking is metered at spots around the restaurant, and you can use your phone to pay online. Weekend parking is free, best we could tell.)

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