Sticks’n’sushi (SnS) feels very sleek. As soon as I walked into its Victoria set-up, I felt like I was at a client dinner, probably in an expat-city centre a la Hong Kong or Singapore. This corporate vibe is probably also a result of its location smack bang in the middle of the Nova complex. Though I’m always somewhat reluctant to spend time in this glossy new development, with its Canary Wharf-like atmosphere, it’s home to a very attractive ensemble of eateries: Timmy Green which serves the best Aussie sweetcorn fritters I’ve had in London; Notes Coffee for a mandatory artisan coffee fix; and Ole and Steen with their irresistible Cinnamon Social pastries, Chocolate Rye to die for, and generous samples that are always-on-offer. New to the scene is SnS, which opened last week – a soft launch that I’d managed to miss. #outoftheloop
Walking into S+S on a bitingly cold night, this place felt, and looked, smart and clean-lined, alluding to its Scandi-Japanese origins. Its décor, with its dark wood, minimal lighting, and large mirrors, is effortlessly cool and calm. SnS has expanded into a mini chain with branches in Copenhagen, Berlin, and four in London and was founded by brothers Jens and Kim Rahbek, and Thor Andersen. Taking inspiration from their half-Japanese, half-Danish background, their fusion of Japanese and Danish cultures – which are so symbiotic – has created a dynamic and innovative take on sushi.
Sitting at the bar whilst we perused the VERY long menu, I couldn’t resist a Yuzu Zoo (£9.50) cocktail which the friendly bartender had recommended. A shaken combo of yuzu juice – my favourite citrus flavour – plum wine, and a touch of honey, it was a joy. Served in a coupe glass and sans ice – which I find always dilutes the flavours of any cocktail – it had a smooth and exotic finish, with the plum wine providing a strong but not overpowering alcoholic boost. It’s just the kind of drink you need on a Friday night.
Their menu reads something like an encyclopaedia, bordering on brochure of sushi, featuring 133 glossy photos of each dish, all photoshopped to sashimi perfection. Though I’m usually suspicious of any restaurant that has a menu with (usually unappetising) photographs of foods – as though you’re some kind of foreign tourist – the read (or rather look) does stimulate the taste buds. Though the range of dishes is slightly overwhelming.
Given the difficulties of navigating its 20 pages, my companion and I opted for the set vegetarian Green Keeper (£22) combo which came with Nigiri (inari, avocao, and tenderstem); maki, king-oyster mushroom and sweet potato sticks, spicy edamame beans, grilled corn, and seaweed salad. It was more than enough for two people.
The food tasted as good as it looked. First up, the seaweed salad was indescribably delicious. I’m going to have to find out what’s in their dressing: creamy, zesty, and a perfect accompaniment to the seaweed, radish, cucumber and roasted pumpkin seeds. Oh, what sexy food.
The sushi – what we really came here for – were everything I was craving this Friday evening: sticky, fresh, and avocadoey, it left me feeling rejuvenated. The sourcing of the ingredients explains why; SnS has it’s own rice field in California, where they grow and export top-quality Japanese rice (as the Japanese are loathe to export their own) which is then expertly cooked.
The vegetables didn’t disappoint either. The grilled corn was my companion’s favourite dish of the night – we all love a bit of BBQ action, after all, especially on a bleak mid-winter (or more precisely, late Autumn) evening. The sticks were also non-offensive: whilst the mushroom one was nothing show-stopping, the sweet potato was deliciously sweet and reminded me that this is a root that should be enjoyed as a stand-alone ingredient more often. Though, all in all, if you’re going to skip anything here, I’d probably suggest the sticks. I’d happily come back here again just for sushi (with a side of yuzu cocktails(s), naturellment).
Though our edamame beans arrived last – rather than as the induction into Japanese flavour as they should be – they were still very moreish.
The combination of Scandinavian design and hospitality with Japanese food is a beautiful thing. It’s luxurious but affordable, looks and tastes fantastic, and offers something for everything. Better still, Japanese foods leaving you feeling clean, exactly what you need at this time of year. I wouldn’t mind if SnS, which is proably underappreciated in London, expanded further.
Sticks’n’sushi, Unit 3, 5, 3 Sir Simon Milton Square, Westminster, London SW1E 5EB