I was lucky enough to be invited along with a friend to one of the previews taking place at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi before their restaurant officially opened in the new Westgate shopping centre. We had to sign a health and safety waver before being led on a ten minute walk all round the houses to the restaurant on the roof terrace, as Westgate was very much still an active building site (despite it being only three days until the launch – after seeing what I saw, I was very impressed they managed to get it in an acceptable state to open)!
We were welcomed and seated instantly, with our friendly waitress explaining how things would work, and taking our drinks order. I had been expecting to be able to try maybe a couple of dishes off the menu, so was surprised when we were told a special tasting menu had been put together for the previews, and that we would essentially be able to try a bit of everything. I mentioned I was vegan and it was absolutely no problem, as they were able to bring out a tailored selection of their vegan dishes.
We were brought out some hot towels to clean our hands with before our drinks very shortly arrived, along with a jug of charcoal-filtered water. We’d ordered small sparkling ginger and lemonades, though I can only assume they brought us out large ones because they were absolutely huge. It was deliciously refreshing, though I wished we’d been given the option about whether we wanted a straw (saving the planet and all that). We were also provided with side dishes, a little jug of soy sauce, and chopsticks, before the food started to come.
First up we had a selection of appetisers, all suitable for vegans. The charcoal grilled edamame were a really tasty snack to whet our appetites, and it was such a welcome change that they came unsalted, especially when the rest of the food was quite salty. We were also served some fried jerusalem artichoke, which were firm but not crispy, a little salty, and I loved the earthiness. Along with these two came a seaweed salad with kelp noodles, radish, asparagus, and tomato, served with a rice crisp. Seaweed isn’t one of my favourite things to eat, but the complex flavours and textures in this dish were really enjoyable. After this, yet more bites were brought to us; this time we each had a bowl of ‘tartare’, though mine was a vegan version of their tuna dish. It was kind of an avocado salsa, mixed with sesame, miso, ginger, and citrusy yuzu flavours. I loved it, it was really fresh but creamy and made a lovely starter.
After the appetisers, we were each brought out a selection of nigiri and maki rolls. On my plate were 8 pieces of hosomaki inside-out and three vegan nigiri, served with ginger and wasabi paste. The green maki contained more artichoke and avocado, and were bursting with the flavours of chilli and sesame. The avocado nigiri was equally lovely and had a real heat from the tiny amount of wasabi. I didn’t enjoy the asparagus sushi so much – though I love this vegetable, I found it a bit difficult to eat as it fell apart easily, and it was actually a bit flavourless. I was absolutely won over by the inari tofu sushi though, which I only tried for the first time a short while ago thanks to Roll With Me Sushi, and it’s now definitely my favourite type to eat. The little sweet tofu boat was filled with sesame sprinkled rice and featured a beautiful combination of textures and flavours. Everything on the plate looked delicate and carefully made, but actually with the amount of rice here this was a very filling plate of food and I struggled to finish it what with all I’d already eaten.
Although I was feeling very full, our plates were whisked away and yet more food presented on the table. Next up were the ‘sticks’, of which I was served satsumaimo yaki (grilled sweet potato) and eringi (king oyster mushroom) skewers. These were the slightly more underwhelming part of the meal, as though they were well cooked, I believe the dressings they usually come with are not vegan, so it literally was just plain sweet potato and mushroom. I enjoyed the mushroom one as it was meaty and still quite flavourful, but the sweet potato I felt I would have been disappointed if I’d have paid for it (at £2.20, for something gone in two mouthfuls).
Last but not least, we were brought out dessert. There are 12 little sweet pots on their menu, but only one of them is vegan sadly, and no prizes for guessing that it’s a sorbet. However, after eating so much food it was nice to have something to cleanse my palette, and the yuzu sorbet I was served was definitely the nicest flavour I’ve ever tried. It had a smooth, creamy texture closer to ice cream, and the citrus was very refreshing.
I can’t fault the food, or the atmosphere, of this lovely restaurant. The staff were in training but service was fantastic, and overall we really enjoyed our experience. The only downside for me of Sticks ‘n’ Sushi is the price. I think the food is definitely worth the money – but that’s only if you have the money to spend in the first place! I worked out that the vegan dishes served to me at the preview would have come to around £50, and my companion who had meat and fish would’ve had an ever heftier bill to foot, so this is probably not a casual lunchtime out for most people. That said, if you have a special occasion and you like this kind of food, you won’t be disappointed if you come here for a treat. Admittedly I definitely wouldn’t usually order as much food as we were served on this occasion, and there is a vegan salad on their menu for £15 which wouldn’t be breaking the bank as much, so perhaps it’s not quite as out of reach of my budget as it seems. Maybe the next birthday or anniversary that comes up, I’ll throw Sticks ‘n’ Sushi out there as a suggestion…
Disclaimer: I received this meal free of charge from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, but have provided my honest opinion of the experience and their food.