Funloving and brash Nikkei restaurant in the heart of Soho
Category : Bar, Restaurant
| Cuisine : Peruvian, Japanes
Address : 11-13 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4RB, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.chotto-matte.com
Opening Times : Mon-Sat 12pm-1.30am, Sun1pm-12am
Closest Tube : Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square
Peru is undoubtedly a great place to be a chef. Not only does it offer a cornucopia of ingredients unavailable outside of its borders, but it also has one of the most exciting food cultures on the planet. Extending back to the Incas, gastronomy has always been central to Peruvians. However, there have been external influences that have left a lasting imprint as well, such as the Japanese diaspora. Peru boasts the second largest population of Japanese in South America, and their presence is deeply felt in the food.
Chotto Matte may not be the first Nikkei restaurant in the capital but it is one of the first eateries to give equal billing to Peru and Japan. It also offers one of the buzziest, most exciting scenes in Soho.
The restaurant comprises of six separate areas designed by the architects responsible for The Ivy and Quo Vadis. The ground floor houses a curvilinear bar cut from lava stone with an array of Nipponese-inspired cocktails. Next door there's a dining area with a prix fixe raw bar helmed by the Emperor of Japan's former chef, Tetsuya Kayo.
Guests can reach the upper floors by ascending a helical burnt timber staircase which leads to an open robata grill, a sushi bar, and a 100-cover dining room. Manga graffiti murals occupy both the ground floor bar and hang on the walls of the restaurant. Industrial bobble lighting is suspended over the robata grill, casting gentle light across restaurant. Mismatched tables are situated in close proximity to each other, fostering a jolt of excitement throughout the room.
Executive chef Jordan Sclare, who cut his teeth at Aqua and Nobu, has created an affordable menu of Peruvian/Japanese sharing dishes made with top-quality, sustainable produce. Whilst we were knocking back a couple of pisco sours the dishes began to arrive. The cultural mishmash was easily apparent in crispy corn tostaditas topped with tuna sashimi, coriander and wasabi as well as gambas salvajes - tempura prawns served with a butter ponzu and huacatay (South American black mint). Similarly, chicken was prepared with both miso and corn salsa whilst octopus was complemented by both yuzu citrus and purple potato.
Sometimes innovation is unnecessary. A few dishes toed the lines of each country's culinary conventions and did better for it. A ceviche of seabass saw sweet potato and Peruvian corn immersed in tiger's milk and sprinkled with chive oil. The sake dragon roll was rolled inside out with the salmon on the exterior and a filling of asparagus and green pepper. Theatrics ensued when the entire roll was blowtorched tableside.
Dessert is definitely not an afterthought at Chotto Matte. A salted caramel chocolate fondant would please even the most insatiable sweet tooth - topped off with fresh orange, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. However, this was just ever so slightly trumped by the Peruvian chocolate pot. Somewhere in between a mousse and pannacotta, it had been pimped out with honeycomb and Suntory whisky.