By Staci Wolfson
A small but burgeoning East Coast chain, Sticky Rice expanded from Richmond, Va., to Washington, D.C., and finally found a third home in Fells Point early last year, urging sushi lovers to “Bmore Sticky!”
In my experience as an avid sushi eater, Asian fusion restaurants with an emphasis on sushi tend to fall into two categories – the hole-in-the-wall, BYOB, quiet and authentic sushi spot or the trendy, upscale bar-with-a-club-atmosphere sushi restaurant. Sticky Rice falls somewhere in between.
Despite driving past it nearly every day, I had never been. On the corner of Aliceanna and Broadway, a prime Fells Point locale, the restaurant is an eclectic mix of classic and new, much like its home neighborhood.
The space is both intimate and loud, full of both hipsters and locals, with a menu featuring authentic maki classics as well as new spins on all the old favorites. And tater tots.
Sticky Rice has all kinds of classic Asian favorites from Mongolian beef to sesame chicken, but I was definitely in it for the cleverly named sushi rolls like the yum yum roll and the shitake happens roll.
Hungry following happy hour with a few friends on a Friday night, I went to Sticky Rice ready for a feast. We started with drinks and shrimp lettuce wraps. My raspberry sakitini was, well, intoxicating with its heady flavor, and the wraps, while not what I am used to with large shrimp, shoots and noodles, was nonetheless delicious.
And then came the deluge of sushi rolls.
Each one was better than the next. The dirty south roll with tempura sweet potatoes, sam bahl and sesame seeds was hands-down the best sweet potato roll I’ve ever had. I don’t know what sam bahl is, but the heat and robust flavor made it a clear winner.
Similarly, the godzirra roll was another delightful but different mix of fried and spicy flavors with crunchy shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, spicy sauce, tempura and tobiko. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to it might be the fantabulous amazing roll, an inside-out roll with tuna sashimi wrapped around rice with lump crabmeat, cream cheese and cucumbers.
Served with garlic butter sauce, the drawn-n-buttered roll is as decadent as it sounds with a mix of crunchy shrimp and lump crabmeat combined with cucumbers and scallions. And the crazy calamari roll with tamago, cilantro, cucumbers, siracha, tobiko and panko crumbs flakes is such a good idea I can’t believe I’ve never seen something like it before.
The piece de resistance of the meal was easily the millennium roll, a large tempura roll featuring lump crabmeat, eel, smoked salmon, cream cheese, siracha and scallions. And of course, we had to round things out with a traditional spicy tuna roll, one of the spiciest and tastiest I’ve had in a long time.
Sticky Rice has managed to carve itself a clear niche somewhere between trendy neighbors like Ra Sushi and bona fide favorites like Asahi. The hip, fun atmosphere is staunchly supported by undeniably delicious dishes.
1634 Aliceanna St. (Fells Point)
Baltimore, Md. 21231