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Posted at 2:16 PM ET, 05/30/2008

Sticky Rice: On an Early Roll

By Julia Beizer

Sticky Rice, the newest hipster haven on the H Street strip, opened last week to much well-deserved fanfare. The two-story restaurant and bar serves noodle dishes, tater tots and a staggering array of sushi in a edgy-cool atmosphere with accents like exposed brick and sexy red walls.

I stuck to sushi on a recent visit and was met with delicious forearm-sized rolls stuffed to the brim with fresh ingredients.

Big bites of cilantro cooled the spicy Chili Roll and soft avocado and cream cheese surrounded crunchy shrimp in the Godzirra Roll. My date and I were fighting over the last morsel of Sticky Balls, a roll of tuna, crab and rice that has been deep-fried and topped with creamy wasabi dressing and eel sauce.

Beyond sushi, a starter of rare, seared tuna was so fresh, it nearly melted off my chopsticks. Fried dumplings, larger than those sold at many Asian restaurants, added a snappy crunch.

The rolls are inventive and flavorful, but the sushi could have been rolled much tighter. Sushi-toting chopsticks always face a precarious journey from plate to mouth, but at Sticky Rice, be prepared to jam each slice up there -- or it could end up in your lap. As you might expect from a new restaurant that's already super busy, service was hit or miss. When I was there, some friends were seated at a different table nearby. Even though they were seated before us, they were only digging into their second dish while I was paying my check.

The Richmond locations are known for catering to vegetarians, and that spirit survived the trip north. Many of the starters are veggie- or vegan-friendly, and the restaurant offers a vegan/vegetarian section of its sushi menu. To clear up a debate from yesterday's Got Plans?, the restaurant offers a vegan alternative to eel sauce -- called Jin Gold F-3 -- which doesn't contain any mention of eel in the ingredient list. The bottle's label lists water, soybean, wheat, salt, licorice extract, soy sauce and a handful of chemical-y products like high-fructose corn syrup; ask to see it if you're curious.

Sticky Rice celebrates its official opening tonight with the Virgins spinning a DJ set from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. The events keep coming out of this venue -- karaoke kicks off on Tuesday.

--Julia

By Julia Beizer  | May 30, 2008; 2:16 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Comments

huh? the maki is a bit of a disaster - no two pieces are the same and the fish slices are so skimpy they are practically transparent. the sticky balls are a dull mushy mass with no discernible individual flavors. the service is a laughable mess starting with the hostess, continuing at the bar, and going through to the apparently high waitstaff and the random order in which tables are served. i will give them another chance but i left thinking it was such a shame - the area and nearby capitol hill could have used a good sushi restaurant. stick with the bison burgers at granville's

Posted by: educated opinion | May 31, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

"i will give them another chance but i left thinking it was such a shame"

C'mon! Please don't go back. The biggest problem Sticky Rice is facing is the daily crush of crowds. If you stop going, maybe *I* can get served more quickly.

Thanks!

Posted by: ibc | June 9, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

don't go. we were there on tue (6/10) and there was a 1 hour wait at 8:30pm. understandably it just opened, but 1 hour wait for not even middle of the week and pouring rain out, to boot, is a little ridiculous. we ended up eating at the bar. the spicy tuna roll sucked; there was barely any spicy-ness and had some weird crunchy stuff coating the rice. and don't go for the chicken teriyaki sandwich--it's a thick, dry chicken breast with teriyaki sauce thrown over it when it was right about to be served to us.

Posted by: disappointed | June 13, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

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