Local Japanese chef Reiko Hashimoto gets her chopsticks ready and samples beautiful inside out sushi rolls at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Wimbledon
Recently with a friend I visited Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, a Japanese restaurant which serves mainly sushi and yakitori sticks and having been developed in Denmark, is a fusion of Western and Japanese flavours too. The concept is great, as you can choose individual sushi pieces and sticks to create your own unique dining experience, or if you can’t decide, their If You Can’t Decide, We Can menu offers lots of suggested combinations for you.
We began our evening with a cocktail, a sharp mix of yuzu juice and shochu – a Japanese spirit, much like vodka – which really whet our appetites! Luckily, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi gave us a selection of nibbles to start; including crunchy deep fried prawns drizzled with lime juice, and dressed with chilli and coriander. These bite-sized pieces are based on Japanese ebi furai, but we usually use black tiger prawns coated in panko breadcrumbs.
After this we went for rare seared beef, or beef tatake, which came with cream cheese and whole almonds. The beef itself was perfectly, gently cooked, but this seemed an odd choice of flavours for a Japanese pallet; although our next dish was stunning. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi really know how to create beautiful sushi rolls, most of which come inside-out to show off their ingredients – avocado, tuna, blow-torched salmon – you have to eat them right away so that they don’t go dry, so few people make sushi this way, but we had no trouble eating them right up.
Then came the nigiri which were more memorable – we chose our own selection including blow-torched salmon, seabass and trout roe topped with the yolk of a quail’s egg, delicately wrapped in paper-thin sliced daikon. The fish was incredibly fresh and my personal favourite was certainly the trout roe – the bright reds and yellows on the plate made it look incredibly appetising too. I often top tobiko rolls (flying fish roe wrapped in nori) with quail’s egg yolk, however now I might need to try something different!
We followed our sushi with sticks, again choosing our own individual selection from the menu, including prosciutto and goat’s cheese, a Japanese-style beef, asparagus wrapped in bacon and duck hearts – which neither of us had tried before. The lamb was juicy and delicious, and the asparagus with bacon might sound western but is a popular stick in many yakitori restaurants in Japan. The duck hearts which came in a sticky teriyaki sauce were definitely top for both of us, although it would have been even better if the sauce had been a little more gentle so that the flavour of the hearts came through more profoundly. Our least favourite stick was the prosciutto and goat’s cheese, as while the cheese was creamy and as an Italian dish it would work well, it just couldn’t complement the rest of the powerful Japanese flavours on the plate.
Dessert was the highlight. We chose Sweets from the If You Can’t Decide, We Can menu: a set of nine desserts including coconut cake, dark chocolate fondant, bergamot and orange crème brulee, white chocolate and liquorice mousse topped with raspberry foam, milk and white chocolate cake, meringue and yuzu curd crumble, and yuzu sorbet – of which we had two helpings as the sesame ice cream was off the menu. It was a shame that the sesame ice cream was unavailable, as I was so keen to try it. I make the same, however it is often more of a grey-blue than the black colour that theirs is pictures as in the menu, so I will have to return to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi just to sample this alone! The chocolate fondant was rich and dark, with a caramel centre and surprising hints of peppermint too; the yuzu ice cream was fantastic, thick and tangy; and the crumble was like a Japanese take on lemon meringue pie, brilliant! I’m not usually a dessert person, but the array of flavours was wonderful.
I can see why Sticks ‘n’ Sushi is so popular, the atmosphere is great, and I think it’s perfect for big meals with lots of friends sharing platters as it is dimly lit, cosy and friendly, and it fuses the feeling of a bar with a restaurant. It may not the best sushi that I have ever tasted, however there are some unique combinations and surprising flavours – some of which I would really like to try in my own kitchen!
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, 58 Wimbledon Hill Road, Wimbledon, SW19 7PA
020 3141 8800