If you're looking for a good time, head to Soho. No, not for anywhere lit by a red light, but for a night at Chotto Matte. This vast Frith Street newcomer takes Japanese-Peruvian fusion (or Nikkei) and really cranks up the volume. On the ground floor is an enormous bar, which on our visit was a seething mass of suits and glamourpusses, all drinking cocktails against a vivid manga-style mural; for the restaurant, go up a floor.
Aside from another mural to inject colour, this is a study in industrial prestige: the floors are black (marble), the ceilings are black (paint), the pillars are rough-cast concrete. Attractive staff (in black – what else?) work the floor. Robata chefs tend the grill. The menu offers a spectrum of the two cuisines, though with more Latin flavour than at other Nikkei restaurants.
From the Japanese end came exquisite sweet shrimp sashimi; from the Peruvian, a correctly made ceviche: curls of seabass bobbing in a zingy, chilli-spiked marinade, with sweet potato and roasted corn. In between was the fusion fare, including a terrific shrimp tempura (Japanese) with three dipping sauces: one traditional and two Peruvian-themed creations (we liked creamy jalapeño best). The only offbeat combo was grill-marinated (anticucho) pork belly laid on rice (nigiri style), then blow-torched at the table. It had theatre in spades – but this on-the-spot-flaming was more for show than flavour.
It’s not the only over-the-top aspect. A trip to the loo is like a challenge from ‘The Crystal Maze’: you’ll need to negotiate two flights of steps; hover in an antechamber debating which door is gents or ladies, press a button to slide back a glass panel, push (hard) to open the heavy cubicle door, then press another button to gain release.
Truth is, Chotto Matte won’t be for everyone. If you don’t like loud music, or are a culinary traditionalist, you may find it an affront to the senses. But if you’re after a buzz, glitz and a more affordable taste of Nobu, then you're about to get lucky.
By Tania Ballantine
Nikkei cuisine is a blend of culinary cultures developed over 100 years ago when Japanese workers immigrated to Peru and combined their cooking techniques with local Peruvian ingredients.
Today, executive chef Jordan Sclare creates Nikkei dishes that not only capture the flavours of Peru but also its bright, vivacious colours making every dish look as beautiful as it tastes.
Nikkei cuisine is all about exceptional quality, natural ingredients and flavours.
Chotto Matte has an exciting urban contemporary ambiance that makes people come back again and again.
Chotto-Matte is a large diverse restaurant on two floors.
On the ground floor is a busy cocktail bar, styled using black lava stone. There is also a lounge, a small dining area for private functions and a tostadita counter where you can just turn up, no need to book. Also, when the weather is good, we open the glass doors to create a lively seating area outside overlooking the street life of Soho.
On the first floor is the main dining room plus a first-come-first-served robata counter and sushi bar.
Exotic Nikkei cocktails, modern eclectic music, glamour, fun and excitement gives you the very best that Soho has to offer.
Owner Kurt Zdesar says 'There is a lot going on and to experience, it takes a few visits before you will really see everything that Chotto-Matte has to offer'.