Folks who have lived in Baltimore know that it's a patchwork with the good and the bad nestled right up against each other in a crazy quilt of urban living that means you spend a good bit of time walking along the edges. Fells Point is such an area. It starts out pretty nice in the touristy area down by the water. But as you move further inland, an almost unconscious wariness sets in. I can never actually feel the transformation taking place in myself - the change in my stride and posture, the set to my jaw, the way my body language changes to encourage others to keep their distance - until I begin to move back into that tourist zone around the harbor and I feel that slight tension leave. This is where Sticky Rice is located.
The former home of Friends - purveyor of the best wings in all of the Baltimore metro area - the transition from hipster gastro-pub to hipster Asian restaurant was fairly smooth. It happened some years back, but I was consumed with grief over the loss of Friends and their wings that it took me until this month to actually stop in and give the new place a try.
The interior has hardly changed. A sushi bar has been added where there used to be ... something else ... I can't properly remember what anymore. Other than that, it's still the same.
The menu is extensive, offering not only sushi, but a selection of stir fry dishes that can be ordered with a variety of noodles or their standard sticky rice, plus a modest menu of very hip cocktails. When I was there, I ordered the Millennium roll - one of their signature tempura sushi rolls - and the Shrimp Coconut noodle bowl with rice vermicelli.
Time from placing my take out order to when it was ready to go was about 15 minutes, as promised by the hostess. During that time I was exposed to the heiress aparent of down-home hokey cuisine via the Food Network. Picking up where Paula Deen left off, Trisha's Southern Kitchen took me on a disastrous demo of how to make peanut brittle that offered little understanding of cooking or food. This is my only criticism of the place, though.
When I got back to the office, my food was still nice and warm. The Millennium roll is a warm sushi roll, wrapped in seaweed and battered and fried. And it's really good this way. This was my first foray into sushi with cream cheese, and Sticky Rice did a nice job pairing it with not only salmon, but crab and eel as well. The soft, warm cream cheese melted just a little into the rest of the roll, making everything smooth and creamy and delicious.
My noodle bowl was also quite good. In keeping with the current culinary times, Sticky Rice endeavors to provide a wide selection of gluten-free options. This means that they do not put any soy sauce on their food, but they do provide it on the side if you want to partake. This means the kitchen uses something else to provide flavor to their stir fry. In this case it was veg - lots and lots of veg. As in 25% of the dish. This is pretty good for a noodle bowl. The shrimp was cooked just enough and was tender and moist and sweet and tasted like it was pulled from the sushi bar - it was that fresh. And the coconut sauce, having no competition, was allowed to shine. Without the saltiness of the soy sauce, this dish tasted primarily of coconut milk. Ultimately, I did miss the salt and ended up using one of the two packets of soy sauce included in my to go bag.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this lunch. At $22 for a sushi roll and a noodle bowl, though, it won't be on my regular rotation but will definitely be on the list when a special lunch is on order.
Sticky Rice is located on Aliceanne Street about half a block west of Broadway. They take credit cards and good old cash.