One way to tell that I really, really like somewhere is if I don’t just want to go back, but want to show off my ‘find’ to other people. I find myself repeatedly taking visitors to Bristol to the Thali Cafe and Bocabar, and am always looking for an opportunity to take my parents to Arnos Vale (they just won’t believe that a walk round a cemetry makes for such a pleasant few hours. I’ll show them, one day).
A recent addition to this list is Sticks n Broth, a relatively new restaurant on Baldwin Street specialising in Japanese ramen (noodles) and yakitori (skewered food). We were actually introduced by friends, and not long after suggested going there with John’s parents before going to a comedy gig at Colston Hall (Dave Gorman, in case you’re wondering. It was brilliant).
Between visits, we have (I think) tried a variety of both the donburi and ramen dishes, and are yet to be disappointed. The food is fresh and the portion sizes extremely generous – they don’t scrimp on the meat and just fill you up with noodles, rice and vegetables, you get more than enough of everything. There’s also a good drink selection, including a number of Japanese/Asian beers. I was eyeing up the smaller dishes too, which all smelled and looked amazing. Maybe next time…
Service is fast, friendly and relaxed. Talking of which, I have to give the team a shout-out; we left an engagement card here on our first visit. I emailed thinking there was no chance of getting it back, and they initially couldn’t find it. However a few days later they emailed again saying it had turned up, and to pop by any time. Thank you team – especially Richard.
Back to the restaurant; small and often busy, it can get a little loud, but not so much so that we felt uncomfortable or even that it wasn’t parent-friendly. And despite it being a small, busy restaurant – you aren’t rushed through your meal. A good thing, considering the portion sizes (and for us less-dexterous, as you might be using chopsticks).
Talking of chopsticks, a word of advice: don’t be too proud to take any knife you’re offered, or to ask for one – particularly if you’re going for something like the big porky ramen. Trying to slice up a hunk of pork with chopsticks is not easy (I was too proud. And I may, therefore, have resorted to using fingers to break up food. In front of my future parents-in-law. Fortunately they’re the relaxed, non-judgemental types, but still…).
Sticks n Broth’s dishes are unlike anything else I’ve tasted in restaurants over here (which means I’ve either been frequenting the wrong restaurants or other places are seriously missing a trick). The dishes seem fresher, the flavours of each ingredient crisper, than other places. Having never been to Japan, I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but it tastes good and that’s the main them; the ultimate proof being that it converted former ramen virgins (John’s parents).
While it’s not budget, dishes cost £10-£14 (most being £10-£12), which I think is pretty good value considering the portion sizes.
Whether you’re a seasoned ramen fan or new to Japanese foods, this is one to add to your Bristol ‘to visit’ list. And when you go, there’s a good chance you might see us there, introducing more friends and family to their delicious broths.
Sticks n Broth, 48-52 Baldwin Street, Bristol, BS1 1QB
Tel: 0117 925 5397
Food served 12-11 Mon-Thurs (drinks served until 12), 12-‘late’ Fri & Sat
Main menu (excluding the smaller, starter-style dishes) can be found here
All pictures taken from the Sticks n Broth website.