Can't decide whether to have frikadeller or sashimi for dinner? Have both at newly opened Sticks'n'Sushi, situated on the top floor of the Westgate. Founded by Jens and Kim Rahbek and Thor Andersen, Sticks'n'Sushi was started 22 years ago, taking inspiration from their half-Japanese, half-Danish background leading to unique fusion dishes. Having viewed the menu, which is like a glossy, high-end fashion magazine, I was excited to give their intriguing dishes a try.
The decor of the restaurant is simplistic and elegant. Navy drapes divide the vast space into smaller dining sections, creating an intimate dining experience. When combined with the low lighting, it has to be said that we felt like we were in the sort of film restaurant where a baddie would be making a sneaky deal to con innocent people out of lots of money. Think this scene in The Big Short but with much nicer lighting and more stylish interior decoration.
Once seated, we placed our drinks order with our server for the evening, Dean. After not very much persuasion, Dean talked me into trying the cocktail of the day. Grandmother’s Apple Pie, which had been designed by Dean, was sweet, very similar to a liquidised pie with a tasty boozy foam. We all agreed (Dean included) that it was more of a dessert cocktail than one to have with dinner but overall it was very pleasant. I'm very keen to try a
Having been slightly overwhelmed by the extensive menu, Dean suggested we went for the option of him taking into account our preferences of creating us a showcase menu of some of the best dishes on offer. This can be done according to price range, preference or allergies - the staff will take all these factors into account and produce a bespoke menu to suit your tastes.This is a fantastic option for anyone feeling adventurous/overwhelmed by the choice and makes for a much more relaxing experience as it takes the pressure off. We started with kobu karaifi (sea bass, wafu dressing, kataifi and spring onion), beef tataki (beef, smoked cheese, chives, almonds, yuzu-koshu sauce and spicy goma) and the tuna tartare (tuna, avocado, sesame, yuzu, miso, ginger and in-house rice chips). We loved the wafu sauce which was nutty, rich and spicy. The crunch of the katafif (shredded filo pastry usually used in baklava) with the soft sea bass was delightful and in terms of texture, the most interesting dish of the night. The beef tataki provided an unusual combination of citrus notes which when combined with the smoked cheese worked well, especially when combined with the almonds.The tuna tartare was a lovely, soft and fresh-tasting addition to the first course, readying us for the rest of the feast.
To help us get the full S'n'S experience, we were kindly served a bottle of shochikubai nigori silky mild sake. Sake isn't something I have had much of - unless you count stealing it as a teen from your parents' drinks cabinet - so this was new to both of us. Served cold, this unfiltered sake was creamy, almost savoury in taste and very moreish - thank goodness we had a bottle!
Onto the next course - the Mini Maki Maki sushi platter (£23) - was made up of some spectacular sushi.For us, this was the most enjoyable course, with both of us urging the other to immediately try whatever the other had just consumed. The ebi panko (tempura shrimp, spicy sauce, avocado and sesame), shake aioli (snow peas, avocado, cucumber, miso aioli, seared salmon and trout roe) were exquisitely executed. The coriander in the salmon ceviche (salmon, avocado, cucumber, red onion, coriander and lime), was joyously refreshing while the hell’s kitchen (tempura shrimp, avocado, tuna and barbecue sauce) maki were excellent: the spicy sauce packed just the right amount of heat, and the tempura prawn - which I had been drooling over since seeing the menu - was crispy and the meat was succulent. The shake NY (salmon with wasabi and a tiny dollop of garlic), hamachi (with wasabi on rice with a sprinkling of ginger) and avocado maki (slices of avocado held together by seaweed with a sesame and miso aioli) were the most conventional sushi on offer and were flawless in appearance, taste and size. Every bite from the platter felt like a long-awaited treat. I wouldn't hesitate to order this again.
Right, onto the sticks course. Our now exceedingly high expectations were well met by the trio of meaty delights served to us. The yakiniku (rib-eye beef with a Japanese marinade) was served medium-rare, meaning the meat was beautifully melt-in-the-mouth tender. The momo chili (chicken in a chili and teriyaki dip with spring onion) was juicy and well flavoured. The champion of the sticks, however, has to be the gindara no miso (miso marinated black cod). Cod's such a delicately flavoured fish so when soaked in miso the umami taste is really highlighted. The burnt bits improved the soft texture of the fish while adding a smoky flavour. It must be said that the sticks we had, as chosen for us, are probably the most classically Japanese options; there are lots of others to choose from that champion a more Danish combination of cheese and ham/pork. Sadly, the grilled tender stem broccoli accompanying the sticks was overwhelmingly salty - thanks to its soy sauce coating - after the delicate, complex flavours from the sticks.
In an attempt to divide and conquer, we opted to share 6 out of the 12 dessert pots on offer. The presentation of the dessert pots was delightful; the portion sizes have been well throughout and are presented in adorable little bespoke ramekins which slot into neatly designed wooden serving platters. Given the name of the restaurant, you could be forgiven in assuming this might be the weak area of the menu. This is definitely not the case. The crème brûlée was crunchy and creamy; the yuzu sorbet added some zing to the course, the white mousse wasn't overpoweringly sweet, just charmingly indulgent; the cheesecake with umeshu jelly was the most textually interesting without comprising on taste; the matcha fondant was pleasantly herbal, contrasting with the sweetness of the other puddings; and the dark chocolate bites were luxurious.
It must be said how gorgeously all the food was presented - in neat, perfectly ordered rows using enviable raku crockery or straightforwardly simplistic wooden boards. Sticks'n'Sushi's stance on service is that "Service should never become a product. It should always be personal. If this isn’t what you experience, please let us know. Then we have failed miserably." No need to be hard on yourselves in this instance; this was one of the most personal (in a good way) service we have ever received. Dean did a fantastic job of taking care of us during our meal and made the experience all the more enjoyable. Given the personal nature of the service, food allergies and preferences are well catered for by the kitchen, and the staff are more than happy to give you their recommendations.
Sticks'n'Sushi is on the more expensive side but my word is it's worth it. This is somewhere to go on an anniversary with your partner or perhaps for a celebratory dinner when you're feeling flash. While not necessarily for sushi purists as most of the options have a Danish-inspired twist, it is possible to stick to the classics or to branch out and go experimental with some fusion dishes. We did see a couple of children there but on the whole, the restaurant is pitched at an adult audience. So treat your loved one to an exquisite meal with attentive and charming service. Oh, and don't skimp on the sake!
This was a large complimentary meal for two worth £186.91, including drinks and dessert, kindly provided by Sticks'n'Sushi.