Sticks 'n' Sushi, Wimbledon
Another sushi restaurant? Really? Yeah, really. Sticks 'n' Sushi have bided their time before attempting to broach the piranha pit of the London restaurant game, having opened nine restaurants in Copenhagen over the last fifteen years.
You may very well miss the entrance, a dimly lit black hole of a window of little fanfare - we reckon the Wagamama next door has sucked all the light from this new opening into its own white glare of a space.
Stepping inside is a jolt to the system. The room opens into a vast, dimly lit space, with eye-catching, sharply designed lights suspended from the ceiling that clearly cost a packet. There's an aura of Hakkasan, a whisper of Zuma, coming from every pore of the super smooth, dimly lit and highly stylised design. It's seductive stuff and feels like you've entered the latest über hip spot in the centre of town, except you're in leafy Wimbledon, land of the Wombles - classy, not naff, this room has had some serious wedge thrown at it by guys who understand restaurant design.
The menu appears looking like an IKEA catalogue, every single item having been perfectly photographed, from the big sharing platters to each individual Uramaki roll - there are no surprises when you're ordering, you know exactly what you're getting. This may seem like patronising molly-coddling but ends up feeling more like a welcome guiding hand through the potential minefield of a sprawling Japanese menu. Tongue-in-cheek menu headers give a theme to each of the set platters, with the frugal being catered for with 'Bankrupt' for the £6.50 Uramaki inside-out roll selection, 'Man Food' for a meaty yakitori stick selection from the robata grill, full of miso-marinated pork, chicken with a chilli dip, beef with herb butter. Pimp up your selection with an addition of a big fat juicy lamb chop. Colourful and quite spectacular arrangements on the plate characterise the set menu dishes, rosy hued tuna being artfully arranged next to sesame seed studded rolls, neatly skewered and grilled pieces of meat nestling next to perfectly arranged salmon nigiri.
If you're confident you can still freewheel into a 'free choice' menu to craft your own menu, and again everything is carefully photographed, rice bowls of Chirashi, the tuna tartar, duck breast wraps, the sashimi, and each little piece of Nigiri - once you've got over the 'nannying' sentiment, the pictures take the pressure off ordering, especially for big and indecisive groups.
Unusually for a sushi restaurant, the wine list is one that is carefully judged and thoughtfully composed. White wines dominate and are characterised by lightness of touch, zippy acidity, and minimal use of oak - all aimed at allowing the delicate nuances of sushi and sashimi to shine, highlights being German Riesling from Tesch, Grüner Veltliner from Austrian winery Steininger, and English wine Bacchus from Chapel Down in Kent. If you want a bit of ballsy red wine action, there is a snappy selection that will act as foils for the chargrilled yakitori sticks. Try the bargainous Cabernet Sauvignon from Caliterra, Chile, a gobful of lip-smacking dark fruit for £18.80. Beers are a strength too, with their own beer Biiru, Kirin Ichiban, and the gorgeously proportioned Sapporo special edition in a silver can.
There's a slickness to everything going on here, from the design of the space, through the menu layout, to the artfulness of the plating arrangements - none of the artifice feels cynical.
Come to the wilds of Wimbledon to nigiri, uramaki, chirashi, futomaki, hosomaki, and yakitori yourself into a stupor. This may even seduce a few punters in from the siren call of the centre of town. The Wombles Strike Back?
Sticks 'n' Sushi Wimbledon
58 Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19 7PA
Sun - Tue: 11am - 11pm
Wed - Sat: 11am - 11pm
Sun - Tue: 12noon - 10pm
Wed - Sat: 12noon - 11pm
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