Sticks n Sushi is a classic case of “fooled by social media”: I fell for all the pictures and comments on instagram from fellow food obsessed folks and had high hopes.
I have to admit the food at Sticks N Sushi looks good, the place is adorable and the online menu is creative and cute and makes you very hungry. Execution and service…..those are a different beast…..
I went to Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden: their second spot in London (they just opened a 3rd and are about to spread like weeds). I didn’t realize but it is actually a Danish chain with 12 restaurants in Denmark.
Don’t get me wrong – the restaurant is very cute and full of adorable details such as the water bottles that come with a fish shaped tag explaining that some of the proceeds go to animal conservation. The waiters have funny t-shirts and the food looks delicious. But it lacks depth. It is not bad but not great.
We also got a waiter who pissed us off more and more as the meal went along. Don’t you love when someone asks: “How was the dish” and you answer “it wasn’t great” and all he says is “OK”. Where is the “I am so sorry, what was wrong with it, what can we do to make your meal more enjoyable, etc…”?
What we ate:
Edamame: they have three types and we went classic warm with sea salt & lemon and it was way too soggy.
Fried Cauliflower served with black sesame truffle sauce: this is one of their signatures and I had high hopes for it. I didn’t care for it, thought it was overly sauced, under truffled and not crispy enough but my dining companions thought it was very good.
Seaweed salad: made with four types of seaweed, carrot, radish, cucumber, roasted pumpkin seeds & sesame served with goma dressing & lemon – another disappointment. The sauce was too creamy and masked the seaweed. I prefer seaweed salads to taste like it and not just like the dressing.
Tuna tartare with avocado, shiso mix & pine nuts, served with nori chips & spicy miso dressing: once again the main ingredients were hidden by an unnecessary amount of dressing. The tuna was way too minced and I prefer bigger chunks.
Sashimi mix: Salmon, tuna & Hamachi. Best dish we had. But even our waiter admitted that Japanese restaurants can’t mess up the sashimi or people will question the freshness and quality of the fish. The Hamachi had a great texture and a lovely sweetness to it that even one of my fellow diners, who only eats raw tuna was willing to try, and loved it.
Salmon and daikon roll: I am always very suspicious of rolls that contain ingredients such as cream cheese. Reminds me how Hiro, who was chef at Wynn Macau, used to get to upset and sad when people asked him to add this very American variation. Our waiter swore it worked in this case (that was at the beginning of the meal when he was still being nice and friendly) so we ordered. The roll had soy cured salmon, avocado, cream cheese, cucumber & ponzu wrapped in daikon. Apart from the cream cheese it was good and I ended up removing the cheese from all my pieces.
Coal crab rolls (picture above): Another of the gimmicky rolls but someone I know had said it was good. They have soft-shell crab, coal-black rice, lettuce, avocado, masago, spicy sauce & tsume soy and the rice was too hard and the flavours too confusing – skip.
Skewer with free range pork and basil: we had to order something from the sticks part of the menu and this sounded good. It was way too dry.
Steak – Premium (they claim) grass fed rib eye steak with Japanese barbeque sauce, topped with cress served with kimchi: the rib eye was so fatty that you could see by the effort David was putting into trying to cut the pieces or trying to find any morsels that looked appetizing. Since I watched his efforts, it didn’t even tempt me to try a bite, after all, I grew up in Brazil and am a total steak snob!
Dessert sampler: adorable sampler with loads of little beautiful pots including (read clockwise):
- Dark fondant, with chocolate caramel & peppermint heart, topped with crunchy hazelnut brittle: a little molten cake with subtle peppermint taste.
- Marcel chocolate cake with crystallised white chocolate: good bite of moussey cake.
- Coconut cake: like an american type macaroon in a ramekin. Nice gooey soft centre.
- White chocolate and liquorice mousse topped raspberry foam: no liquorice taste thankfully but not my thing as it was almost too light and summery.
- Yuzu sorbet: light and refreshing
- Black sesame ice cream with nougatine: very creamy and one of the best among the different little pots.
- Crumble with yuzu curd & meringue: there was nothing crumble like and was more like a lemon meringue pie in a ramekin.
- Bergamot orange crème brûlée: flavour was ok but too runny.
- Vanilla ice cream: friend from work said to order and was surprisingly good. Very creamy and worked well with the other puds. (picture missing as they had brought the wrong dessert instead and we were waiting for the vanilla ice cream…)
In sum: sashimi was tasty and the desserts were adorable. Cute place for a casual bite if you must have Japanese in Covent Garden. If not, go to Flesh & Buns or several of the other options around.
Sticks N Sushi http://sticksnsushi.com/restaurants/covent_garden.html
11 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8PY