The entire concept of Sticks n Sushi baffled me, from the naff name to the weird marriage of Danish and Japanese food and the off-putting exterior.

I rallied against eating either something that came on a stick or raw fish, while wondering how they would fill the enormous cavern of a restaurant on the top of The Westgate which appeared dark and gloomy, both inside and out.

I am now regretting every lost month, nay day, since it opened, because Sticks n Sushi was an absolute revelation, not only by introducing novel food, menus and ingredients, but it was also sexy as hell and utterly transformative in terms of dining out.

Style is the name of the game here; running through its cross-cultured veins, starting in the restaurant and kitchen and traversing right through to the staff, vibe and even the unisex bathrooms.

The contemporary furniture and decor, veiled dividing curtains, moody lighting, and a wonderful mix of grown-up opulence and hygge comfort, was a constant reminder of the two cultures, and how much they have in common. Innately good taste for one, a love of minimalism, but more than that, an attention to detail and painstaking obsession with presentation, that is impossible to ignore.

But the wow factor can’t uphold itself, a reputation for food is pivotal in ensuring its success because diners always vote with their feet when they see through the smoke and mirrors.

Could Sticks n Sushi deliver on the food front? Judging by the cocktails alone. yes. And I would happily prop up the bar any day of the week.

My advice is to leave yourself in their capable hands, because the staff are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Which is how we came to be drinking a Kimchi Mary – a fiery take on a Bloody Mary which was one of the best in living memory, and a Hotaru with light rum, apple, passion fruit, orgeat and citrus all shaken up (£9.50).

It also gave us time to peer around at the well-dressed sleek clientele who seemed to be enjoying the novelty of the setting as much as we were.

What to eat though was more problematic because the menu was utter food porn, from the start of its wipe clean pages to its finish. In the end we gave up, hugely grateful to the wonderful Andre who guided us gently through the options, while taking in our personal preferences, as a kindergarten assistant would his pre-schoolers, because we wanted a bit of everything and were far too over-excited to make a decision for ourselves.

In the end we opted for the Perfect Day menu, which was £65 to share, and more than ample, consisting of edamame with salt and lemon, crab croquettes with wasabi caesar, seared salmon, tuna and avocado, spicy tuna, crispy ebi and rice paper with duck and goma, seared salmon, kizami wasabi, daikon, cress and ponzu, plus sticks of chicken meatballs with teriyaki, salmon with teriyaki and asparagus wrapped in bacon.

Vegetarians and pescatarians can swap in any dishes they require, which meant we also managed the cauliflower with black sesame truffle sauce and the Ebi Bites (tempura shrimp, miso aïoli, chili, lime and coriander) which were so succulent, gentle and crispy that I went into a sort of trance, only revived by an offering of the crab croquettes whose soft insides will stay with me for some time, and the piquancy of the marinaded seared salmon.

We also snuck in a Greengate salad (£15) because it sounded so good – the goma dressing topped with pine nuts proving its worth.

The immaculate plates arrived swiftly, prepared with enormous skill and dexterity, the decoration and presentation as important as the dishes themselves.

This marriage between the complex flavours, textures and colours continued into the dessert platter where three miniatures (£9) gave us a taste of heaven; liquorice crème brûlée, white mousse with liquorice and a macha cake chocolate hit.

Sticks n Sushi offered a glimpse into a mystical world that I am keen to revisit, and as such is is my favourite Westgate eaterie to date.


Rooftop Terrace

311 The Westgate

Castle Street, Oxford, OX1 1NZ

01865 237 777

Opening hours: Sunday – Tuesday: 11:30am –10pm

Wednesday – Saturday: 11:30am –11pm

Must try: the takeaway service