Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Covent Garden

4 years ago

The Vibe

Scandinavian hey? Well congratulations Sticks ‘n’ Sushi for branching out from all of your bare-wood, bright-light minimalist compatriots. After topping the Japanese cuisine market back in Denmark, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi turn their sights from the Danes to Denmark Street, with this recent opening in Covent Garden adding to their other London outpost in Wimbledon.

This place is sexy – sleek black lacquered design makes you feel as though you’ve tumbled down the stairs at Hakkasan. The lighting is date-perfect dim, service is slick and the food is perfect for sharing and caring.

The Order

Never have I seen quite so many menus in a restaurant. They come as a sort of overwhelming collection of anthologies for you to sift through. Reading these will break up crucial conversation time so opt for the following (or ask your waiter to choose for you and send out a selection): Beef Tataki and a bowl of grilled edamame to start, Skewers of either black miso cod, salmon or asparagus wrapped in bacon. A half order of the Maki Deluxe sushi platter.

The Game

You’ve got to love a double layered restaurant – for first dates, opt for downstairs where you’ll perch prettily on high stools while watching the kitchen and sushi chefs doing their thing. If icebreakers aren’t needed, go upstairs at the back where it’s more intimate. Start with a “Kiruyi Delight” cocktail each (elderflower and sake, topped with Prosecco), then order a bottle of white. After hours…. you’re in Covent Garden: if things are hotting up and you feel like letting your hair down, head to the London Cocktail Club. Looking to get fun and funky? You’ll find the Earlham Street Clubhouse close by.

The Faults

It’s pricey, like most good sushi in London.

Sex Factor

4. Starting to smooch whilst still at the table wouldn’t be overly surprising.

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Wimbledon

6 years ago

The Vibe

Arriving at this impressive and sleekly designed space off Wimbledon Hill, you are greeted by huge smiles and a maître d who seems genuinely delighted to host you for the evening. There is much to take in at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi as you weave through the different areas – a sofa spot with minimalist furniture true to the company’s Danish roots, an open kitchen with chefs neatly clad in black uniforms, and then a whole load more black interspersed with impressive lighting, some exposed brick work and both communal and smaller tables. This is a huge site and could risk feeling empty at quieter times, were it not for the ever enthusiastic (still smiling) staff being switched on and skilled at cleverly directing diners into similar pockets of the room to maintain a consistent atmosphere. It doesn’t feel like Wimbledon, and adds a welcome challenge to the town (and indeed Wagamama 3 doors down) to up it’s culinary game.

The Order

Keep calm. You’ll be presented with more menus than you know what to do with. Assess them slowly and appreciate that they’re actually quite well designed. Start with the drinks menu and order a Madman in Japan – the cocktails are well made here, as are the fresh juices and virgin varieties if you’re feeling virtuous. Once refreshed, decide whether you want to go A La Carte (if so, reach for Menu titled “Free Choice on all Levels”) or whether you want choices made for you (if so, grab the one remaining menu you haven’t opened). If you’re a sushi connoisseur (and have no concerns on budget), the A La Carte is guaranteed to satisfy with every option well covered, however date (and wallet) wise it may well be easier to opt for a ready made selection. This place is big on fun so get in the spirit and order a combination plate with a name like “Mixed Emotions” or “Four Meal Drive”. The hot sticks are delicious and delicate to eat although Guys, try your hardest not to be drawn to the one entitled “Manfood” and chivalrously offer to share something less meaty.

The Game

As good as this place is, you’re going to have to come up with an excuse to go to Wimbledon. Tennis aside, the options open to you are a walk on the common, drinks at one of the popular pubs up the hill or just to bite the bullet and make the journey -it’s only the end of the District line, you can still use your Oyster card. This is suburbia so work with their dining times to ensure you hit the restaurant when busy – arrive no later than 8:30pm and don’t be surprised if the place clears by 11. Take your time; start with a cocktail and some edamame or Beef Tataki then order as you go and move onto desserts (they couldn’t resist the chance to make another menu) if you’re hungry or Sake if you’re not. Once you’re done with dinner, jump in a taxi and whizz up the hill to the village area to continue the evening with further cocktails at Hemingway’s or cosy up at stylish gastropub The Dog and Fox.

The Faults

Avoid sitting next to the window, the bright lights of Wimbledon aren’t all that bright and the bus stop outside has some interesting clientele.

Sex Factor

2 – it’s an evening that’ll need negotiating but this place will more than play its part.

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