A Danish superstar in the world of restaurants, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi opened a new restaurant in Covent Garden at the end of last year - the second in the capital alongside its’ big sister in Wimbledon.
Founded 18 years ago by brothers Jens and Kim Rahbek and Thor Andersen, inspired by their half-Danish, half-Japanese background, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has become one of the most successful restaurants in Denmark. There are now 10 restaurants in Copenhagen and the chain has become synonymous with good quality, fresh food and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The mix of good Japanese food in a cool Scandi-design restaurant was enough to make me want to try this Nordic sensation for myself.
I got the girls together and headed to Covent Garden on a Saturday night for dinner.
The restaurant is accessible from both streets that is it sandwiched between- just off the bustling main square. The main dining room at ground level is stunning – by night it was dark, moody and sexy. The one-armed leather chairs (which were incredibly comfortable), the exposed brickwork, smoked timber floors and low lighting levels make for a masculine and sharp interior. It felt fashionable, upmarket and sophisticated with an effortlessly cool, laid-back atmosphere. There was a gentle buzz from the nearly full restaurant as we ordered wine and some very moreish spicy edamame beans in a warm miso sauce.
The menu is extensive; you can order large plates of yakitori 'sticks' (skewers of grilled meat and vegetables), sushi and set meals on one menu, and then smaller plates on the à la carte or ‘shelf service’ menu. The concept is simple and does what it says in the name; sticks and traditional sushi – no heavy main meals of rice/noodles, meat and sauce.
The design of the menu is also sharp, with enticing photos of each of the dishes. Despite trying desperately not to be sucked in by this clever, but obvious sales ploy, we did want most of the beautifully presented dishes on the menu and definitely over ordered! The very friendly and informed staff helped us negotiate the menu and offered suggestions - particularly for the fish lovers among us.
The suggestions happened to be very good and the plump, juicy scallops wrapped in smoky bacon with herb butter were a favourite dish.
To accompany the scallops we ordered a mix of dishes; sticks, sushi and small side bowls of rice which all arrived at the same time creating a huge sharing feast.
The salmon carpaccio with trout roe, lime, daikon, chives and miso aioli was stunning - delicate but tasty with melt-in-the-mouth salmon slices. We also ordered miso-marinated black cod (sticks) which is a highlight of any Japanese menu for me and definitely did not disappoint on this occasion. Next up was a juicy ‘Yakiniku Steak’ - rib eye steak marinated in Japanese barbeque sauce with spring onions and sesame seeds - this was rich, delicious and provided a good balance alongside the more delicate fish dishes.
We also picked a selection of sushi - including tuna small rolls, marinated duck breast in rice paper with avocado and the best soft-shell crab in rice paper. The sushi was fantastic; each dish looked beautiful and the rolls were packed full with delicious ingredients.
All of the dishes were very good and seemed to get better with each one I tasted. The fusion concept of sticks and sushi makes for the perfect sharing meal and it was serious business trading the last black cod stick for the last piece of the salmon carpaccio with the girls. It was also nice not to be rushed in a popular restaurant - staff were attentive and checked on us several times but did not overbear.
My one regret is that we ordered so many mains and pretty much finished them all, that not one of us could manage dessert – although the menu looked incredible and I was very tempted by the chocolate fondant.
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi was great and we all had a really enjoyable evening. It was a refreshing take on Japanese dining and the idea of ordering and tasting a lot of small plates greatly satisfied my general, uncontrollable urge to try everything on every menu in nearly every restaurant. The food was fantastic and the interior of the restaurant was beautiful and comfortable – but best of all it felt very special.