Who doesn’t love balls for brunch?
That was the sign outside Sticky Rice on H Street, a place where I’ve drunkenly danced on its tables far more often than I’ve acknowledged the existence of its sushi menu. I found it baffling that one of my favorite late-late-late-night dancing spots could open its doors so early the next morning and serve up, of all things, amazing sushi.
It was Cori Sue’s pick. We had invited our partners, the Sophistocrats, to join us for brunch so we could hear about their new site and exclusive social club. They showed up in black suits and shades, looking skeptical of our choice. I immediately felt completely unsophisticated for bringing them to such a dive. But that feeling only lasted for a second.
Surprisingly, the evening before our brunch, Michelle Obama and her girls had dined upstairs at Sticky Rice. It was hush-hush, but people were tweeting, and after needling our waitress (who was clad in too-tight spandex pants as if she had just rolled out of bed), she confirmed the rumor.
Sophistocrats? Obamas? OK, maybe this place deserves a second look.
We sat upstairs in a wooden booth, right against the window. Unfortunately that tall window didn’t have any shades or curtains, so the sun was streaming down on us. We kept our shades on and ordered drinks. I went for the Asian pear sangria—a staff favorite, says the menu—which isn’t a sangria at all (or, at least, my glass didn’t have any floating fruit). It was cavity-inducing sweet.
The rest of the table had sakimosas, which were the better choice: sweet sparking sake and orange juice. It packs a punch. We didn’t try the bloody Sunday, which you can get with jalapenos, steamed shrimp or bacon. Nor did we try the Kristin Cook, which is described as cheap beer, tomato juice, and a quail egg. Sounded a bit dangerous.
The brunch menu is the entire sushi menu from dinner (except no noodles, sandwiches, or salads), plus a full page of extra brunch dishes. The first thing we all went for were the Sticky Balls. They were highly recommended to us, and so we split a couple orders with the table. Tuna, crab, and rice in a deep fried rice inari pocket. Delicious.
The veggie Sticky Balls didn’t have as much oomph as the crab ones, but Cori Sue was hoping for a variation. The veggie balls were just rice, peppers, and cheese, not so much veggie. Definitely stick with the crab option. This is not to mention, they are beautiful.
I ordered the waffles and wings. Why did I order this at a sushi joint? Who knows. But get this: it was fried chicken wings covered in maple syrup and powdered sugar on top of Belgian waffles. It was so disgustingly amazing I could only eat one wing. And then I accidentally left the to-go box in my car after brunch and the fried goodness and the syrup hardened to a nice shell.
Cori Sue, who was well pleased by all the vegetarian options on the menu, had the French toast (also another surprising order for a sushi joint). She said it was average, but the creamy, sugary sweet sauce on top of it made it taste richer and better than it otherwise would have been. The slices of bread were insufficiently egg yolked and slightly burnt. The strawberries were fresh, so that was a plus, but she could have used more of them.
It was the sushi—the glorious sushi—that was for the brunch win. It’s on the menu under names like The Fantabulous Amazing Roll, Billy Goat’s Gruff, The Hot Hippy, and my personal favorite, the Snap, Crackle, Pop. I didn’t even care what was in it, I just wanted to order aloud, and then eat, a sushi roll called a Godzirra. (Cue Cori Sue growling “Godzirrrrrrraaaaa” beside me).
The Godzirra roll turned out to be my favorite, with crunchy shimp, avocado, cream cheese, spicy sauce and cucumbers with tempura crunchies and tobiko. The tuna tempura was a close second. Cut length-wise, the tempura rolls were filled with tuna, cream cheese, cucumbers, avocado, spicy sauce, and tobiko drizzled with ponzu and scallions. The Sophistocrats jointly decided that they will publish something on how to use chopsticks properly in case of an upscale, sophisticated sushi date.
Chadd, founder of the Sophistocrats, gave his quick thoughts on the brunch: “The Sticky Balls were awesome, and I would definitely go back and order those again. I thought it was definitely a place to go after a long night and not to go all snazzy, as I felt a tad over dressed. The sushi was great (made me a believer), and I felt the service was also good. Overall I liked the place.”
Drew, co-founder of the Sophistocrats, had his second ever sushi experience that day (we twisted his arm after he told us the tale of his first disastrous sushi experience). His thoughts: “The tuna tempura was my first tasty experience with sushi. I was pretty set on excluding sushi from my life, but I owe it all to the Bitches for making me try it again. The sake mimosas were probably partially responsible for my fearless sushi eating.”
Drew and Chadd both ordered the shrimp gouda grits. Chad barely touched his (too busy with the sushi on the table), but Drew absolutely loved them. He explains: “I was betting on these to be pretty average being that grits aren’t considered Asian cuisine. My mother’s side of the family is from the South, and I grew up on butter grits and variations of such, so I’m a little picky as far as the balance of flavor. But those grits were the best I’ve had in ages. They had the perfect balance of grits versus butter and seasoning. Plus, there was plenty of shrimp. Overall this was my favorite part of the meal.”
The best part of our meal was the little munchkin that joined us that morning. The Sophistocrats’ fabulous communications specialist, Patrice Cameau of Commun Public Relations, brought her delightful four-year-old son RJ to join us. Inspired by Chadd and Drew making their way around the sushi with their chopsticks, he made it a point to learn how to use them with his blueberry waffles. A four-year-old picking up blueberries with chopsticks? Completely adorable.
The Bitches say B+: Divey, but delicious.
1224 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 397-ROLL (7655)