Table Talk: Sticky Rice rolls into Fells Point

Sticky Rice, a new Fells Point restaurant, offers Tuna Tartare with quail egg.
Sticky Rice, a new Fells Point restaurant, offers Tuna Tartare with quail egg. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Sticky Rice opened last month in the old Friends space in Fells Point. The first Sticky Rice, in Richmond, Va., was opened in 1999 by John Yamashita and Jason Henry. Located near Virginia Commonwealth University, the restaurant's giddy mix of Asian noodle dishes, salads, pub grub and a full sushi bar caught on quickly with the student population. A menu considerate of vegan and vegetarian tastes and appetites also contributed to Sticky Rice's popularity, as did the restaurant's cheeky, rascally atmosphere.

"We've always believed that dining should be fun," says Yamashita.

A second Sticky Rice opened in 2008 in Washington and took on three additional partners, Jason Martin, Phil Rodriguez and Joey Belcher. Those three are part of the Baltimore group, but the founding duo Yamashita and Henry are not. The two have been working with the Baltimore team, though, helping with staff training and brand support. Joining the team in Baltimore is Ronnie Pasztor, who recently relocated to Baltimore from Santa Barbara, Calif.

"It is confusing," Yamashita admits. "We're a big, dysfunctional family."

Not long after opening the Washington restaurant, the group began to put Baltimore in its sights but had no fixed location or even general neighborhood in mind. News of the impending closure of Friends, which had enjoyed a long run in Fells Point, got their attention. A block makes a big difference in Fells Point, and the 1600 block of Aliceanna, just a few yards away from Broadway, feels self-contained. The Blue Moon Cafe is across the street, and Liquid Earth, the stalwart coffee house, juice bar and vegetarian cafe, is just a few yards down. If you squint, the block almost looks like the main drag of a college town.

Yamashita points first-time diners toward the bucket of tots, the teriyaki-glazed burger served with grilled pineapple, and house specialty rolls like the Chili Roll (tuna, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno and grilled pineapple, topped with tempura crunchies) or the Yellow Basil (fresh Hamachi chunked with Himalayan pink salt).

Appetizers range from $5 to $9.25, specialty rolls from $8 to $11.25, sandwiches from $9 to $10, and the menu's six noodle dishes (there's a choice of soba, rice, udon, or sticky rice) from $8 to $10.

Sticky Rice Baltimore is open seven days a week for dinner, from 5:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. (11 p.m. on weekends). Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday. The bar is open until 2 a.m.

The restaurant is at 1624 Aliceanna St. Call 443-682-8243 or go to bmoresticky.com.

County Restaurant Week The winter edition of Baltimore County's restaurant week will run from Jan. 14 to Jan. 30. (Baltimore City Restaurant Week is Jan. 21-30.)

The first Baltimore County restaurant week debuted this summer. Largely a grassroots effort, it was spearheaded and organized by the Milton Inn's Brian Boston, without official involvement or support from the county. This time, the dining promotion is wholly a county affair — the event will be managed by the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development.

An innovation to watch: In an effort to make its first official restaurant week an all-inclusive affair, participating restaurants will be able to offer fixed-price menus at one of six points: $10.11, $15.11, $20.11, $25.11, or $30.11, or $35.11. Restaurants also have the option of offering one-, two-, or three-course menus.

Awards B&O American Brasserie received the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and "Nation's Restaurant News" 2010 SPIRIT Award. The annual award recognizes companies for "their outstanding commitment to employee recognition and retention."


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