When I first heard about London’s Chotto Matte (pronounced chot-toe mah-tay and which means ‘wait a minute’ in Japanese) offering a fusion between Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, I wondered if and how well that would bode with Soho diners.
However, it didn’t take much time at all to discover the answer…
As my husband and I arrived at the energetic bar area on the ground level, we were met with an evident example of how the two far-flung destinations can partner to create the perfect pairing with its drinks menu.
Nikkei inspired (‘Nikkei’ means Peruvians who originate from Japan, which is where the gourmet culture comes from) tipples are cleverly shaken, stirred and poured by mixologists using pisco, sochu and sake. While Mr husband ordered his beer, I sipped on my Shiso Lake – a grassy green hued liquor made of Ketel One vodka, shiso and cucumber syrup with cherry bitters and lime for a fresh, bright and dry finish. It was the perfect aperitif before tucking into the dining menu that was to follow.
And so up the spiral staircase we went, reaching the upper floor of the hip Tokyo-style dressed diner with its display of graffiti art stretched across the entire wall, to sit at a table facing the restaurant’s open Robata grill and sushi bar.
The tasting menus looked tempting but we went a la carte, first selecting the sharing plates of ‘Nikkei sashimi’– mouth-wateringly cured slivers of sustainably sourced (all of the fish is) yellow tail and cherry tomatoes in a jalapeno, coriander and yuzu soy dressing and ‘Sea bass Ceviche’ – another equally light yet deeply satisfyingly ‘spicy chilli lemon’ flavour of sweet potato, crunchy Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil and citrus sauce.
For those who like to try something fried, there’s a selection of what Chotto Matte calls ‘Chicharroneria,’ or tempura, cooking up bites using a light batter and for those who like it hot, there’s a list of ‘Cocina Caliente’.
These sautéed dishes such as ‘Asado de tira,’ beef short rib with grilled asparagus, purple potato and a teriyaki sauce cropped up on our men. From this section, we just had to try Chotto Matte’s version of a classic favourite when ordering Japanese – ‘Bacalao negro aji miso’ – black cod with yellow chilli miso, which met the discerning standard of being utterly light and buttery and rapidly melted in the mouth.
Next followed what was undeniably the most delicious dish tasted that night, taken from the ‘Anticucheria Barbecue’ spread – a traditional Peruvian marinade of Aji Panca and Aji Amarillo chilli, chargrilled over hot goals – called ‘Tentaculos de pulpo’ – well-barbecued octopus (no rubbery, chewy morsels in sight but instead soft and tender pieces) drizzled with a hot chilli, tangy sauce and served on a scoop of purple potato with yuzu dressing. As per Nikkei tradition, we were finally met with the sushi and sashimi options at the end of our meal, which we hear the master sushi chef Tetsuya Kato – previously chef to the Emperor of Japan – heads up. Fit for royalty, our spicy tuna hand cut rolls unequivocally lived up to all expectations and firmly sealed the establishment’s sushi authentication. With boundless varieties to choose from, this will also fail to disappoint.
As per Nikkei tradition, we were finally met with the sushi and sashimi options at the end of our meal, which we hear the master sushi chef Tetsuya Kato – previously chef to the Emperor of Japan – heads up. Fit for royalty, our spicy tuna hand cut rolls unequivocally lived up to all expectations and firmly sealed the establishment’s sushi authentication. With boundless varieties to choose from, this will also fail to disappoint.
With one last sweet bite of our Pineabble Toban ‘Yaki’ from the dessert menu – blood red coloured pineapple chunks baked with a chicha morada crumble topping and served with vanilla ice-cream – we were ready to call it a night but we could have hung around the cocktail bar for hours more.
Suffice to say, not only does Chotto Matte’s dining experience completely deliver on taste but it also tackles the challenge of offering a well-rounded, diverse and eclectic menu.
Taking you from start to finish, it leaves you with that lingering, moreish taste on your buds, eagerly wanting you to come back for some more. It’s definitely worth waiting here for more than just a mere minute.
Chotto Matte – Where and how
Address: 11-13 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RB
12.00 pm to 1.30 am Monday to Saturday
1.00 pm to 12.00 am Sunday
By Reena Patel