Sticky Rice DC exteriorAfter years of anticipation, Sticky Rice has finally opened its doors at 1224 H Street, NE.  As friends and neighbors of the new outpost of the Richmond sushi-and-tater tots fixture, we went on Thursday to check out their soft opening.

With a trifold menu that offers four pages of choices, it seems like there is going to be plenty to appeal to a wide range of tastes – they’re especially proud of the numerous vegetarian- and vegan-friendly items on the menu.  A word of warning, though – many of the appetizers and even a fair number of the sushi offerings are either fried or contain fried elements (shrimp tempura, fried ‘crunchies’, etc.).

On the advice of one of Elizabeth’s coworkers, we tried the Sticky Scallops appetizer and (of course) the Bucket of Tots.  The scallops were delicious, topped with a sweet and savory brown sauce, shredded carrots and cashews.  Definitely a winner.  The tots were tasty – salty and hot like you’d expect, and the bucket they came in was no joke.  The tot sauce had a great tang, too.  After we joked about the size of the order with our waitress, she gave us the inside scoop…apparently you can get a half-order of tots if you’re not sufficiently drunk to appreciate a full order of fried goodness.

To get the full experience, we also tried some of the raw selections, as well.  It is a point of pride for the Sticky Rice team that they don’t use any artificial crab – even their California Rolls are made with genuine crab meat.  It carries a slightly higher price tag, as a result, but the sweet fresh taste makes it worth the extra cost.  We also tried the Pretty Roll (tuna and avocado), the Chili Roll (a ‘specialty’ roll that combines tuna, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, grilled pineapple, flying fish roe and tempura crunchies) and an order of Poki (a mound of sliced raw tuna dressed with sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and shredded coconut).

The flavors were clean and clear, but the two smaller rolls (California and Pretty) suffered from an overabundance of rice.  In the case of the Pretty Roll, the tuna and avocado inside were obscured by all the rice that surrounded them.  Hopefully, this can be attributed to opening night generosity, but we’ll probably ask to get our rolls light on the rice next time just to be on the safe side.

It’s unfair to make a final judgment on a place based on a soft opening, but there were quite a few things to like about Sticky Rice on our first visit.  Their list of sake by the glass and the bottle was impressive, and the service was definitely attentive and knowledgable.  Although the space gets a bit loud (lots of flat surfaces and high energy music combined with a crowded house will do that), it gives every indication that it will become a dining destination both before and after nights at the bars and shows at the Atlas District’s other venues.

Sticky Rice is continuing its soft opening through Monday night, with three reservations-only seatings at 5, 7 and 9 each night.  Regular service and hours will begin on Tuesday.  If you want to check it out this weekend, give them a call at (202) 397-ROLL (7655).

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