Back when H Street NE was still nothing but the Dollar General and boarded up storefronts, Sticky Rice emerged, bringing new life to this almost-forgotten land. Fast forward to several years later and Sticky Rice is still going strong. In fact, they have since expanded -- taking over the space next door as well.
My friend and I returned to this cute little Asian joint to find it renewed and still full of life. It had been two years since I had last been here and I just wanted to kick myself for having waited so long to come back. The biggest improvement is that they now allow reservations, which greatly improves the experience of dining at Sticky Rice. A few years ago, you'd show up to this trendy, hipster joint and wait at least an hour to be seated at one of their few tables. Now, they take reservations and have many more tables available.
So, when we showed up at 7, we were promptly seated. Very nice. My friend ordered some warm sake, which he liked very much, and I ordered a lemon drop martini made with one of my favorite vodkas, Hangar One. Perfectly sweet.
We started with their signature appetizer -- the tater tots. Yep, they brought this one back. But, we tried the sweet potato version. Loved them! And their vegan-mayonnaise based sauce!
This place has a lot of character -- bright red walls surround a bustling restaurant complete with bars on both floors. On the top floor, an exposed brick wall with a rectangular cutout separates what used to be two distinctly different restaurants now merged into one. On the walls, you find several televisions showing movies or whatever they feel like playing at the time. The crowd was a mixed bag from a table full of cops who abruptly ran off to a call to the hipster youth that occupy H Street NE now. It is a place that anyone could call home.
The menu offers plenty for vegans and vegetarians alike with all items clearly marked as vegan, vegetarian, or vegan option. Under the sushi rolls, there are several unique options like The Hot Hippy which consists of spicy marinated tofu with scallions, peanuts, cucumbers, and carrots, and the Santa Fe, which is tempura fried sweet potato with agave jalapeno and sesame seeds. I'm trying one of those next time. This time I went with my old favorite, the Garden Balls. The vegan eel sauce really makes these rolls. I know what you are thinking -- what is a vegan eel? I don't know, but the sauce is vegan and it's good. Rice, red pepper, shiitake mushrooms, and cilantro fill the tempura fried inara pocket. This creates a deliciously crunchy outside and a yummy inside that is drizzled with a tasty eel sauce.
For my entree, I had trouble choosing between The Dirty Vegan (I mean who wouldn't want to order that?!) and the Mock Chicken Szechuan. Again, I went with my old favorite -- the Mock Chicken Szechuan. You get to choose your noodles or rice -- soba buckwheat, vermicelli, udon or just rice. I chose soba. When they brought it out, I was quickly reminded of just how big this meal was. It was enough food for 3 meals. The oily soba noodles are topped with julienned carrots, onions, green and red peppers, beans sprouts, pineapple chunks, and mock chicken all dredged in a sweet sauce. The mock chicken is the best part -- thin, dense, round nuggets of TVP-like mock chicken are fried to perfection. I added sriracha to create a spicy sweet concoction.
I left thinking that I need to come back here more often. The food was good, not spectacular, but solid; the service was great; and the prices were right at about $10 per entree. I love the laid-back fun atmosphere as well. Sticky Rice - I'm glad you haven't changed. Where else can you get a bucket of tater tots, vegan eel sauce, and dirty vegan noodle dishes all under one roof? Nowhere else.
1224 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002