Chotto Matte has been right at the top of my list for a long while now, but when your favourite restaurant serves similar food at the same price just a few streets over, it’s easy for it to just stay at the top of that list.
Yes, I am aware that Chotto Matte and Roka serve *different cuisines*, namely Nikkei-Peruvian versus Japanese, BUT the menus have more similarities than they do differences, with sushi & sashimi, tempura, gyoza, robata grill dishes and my beloved black cod and miso aubergine all featured.
However, I recently decided to take the plunge.
Chotto Matte is run by the infamous ‘Nikkei Boys’, executive head chef Jordan Sclare and head chef Michael Paul.
Despite having heard mixed reviews (which only added to the prolonging), with Jordan having formerly been head chef at Nobu, Aqua Kyoto, Buddha Bar and Park Lane, I should have had more faith.
The restaurant is enormous, spread over three floors with a unique décor unlike any I’ve experienced, featuring a whole lot of black and signature graffiti murals.
The ground floor consists of a vast & vibey bar with a UV-illuminated mural backdrop created by Tokyo-based graffiti artist Houxo Que.
Perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks.
The upper levels house the a la carte restaurant and showcase further graffiti created especially for the restaurant by London graffiti artist, Tom Blackford.
The graffiti succeeds in being the focal point of all your attention as the only injection of colour in an otherwise wholly black room, with black marble floors and black painted ceilings.
The open robata grill enhances the sense of theatre and aids the restaurant in achieving a “mix of a contemporary urban environment, spectacle and great cuisine”.
We started the evening as all the best ones do, with bubbles, ‘Besserat De Bellefon Grand, Tradition Brut, NV France’ (£60.00).
The cassava and sweet potato chips, yellow tomato salsa, guacamole (£4.80) were really yum. Imagine the best bits of a bag of vegetable crisps paired with fresh, creamy, light guac.
Next came the Nikkei gyoza (5pcs), which are pork, prawn and cassava dumplings served on aji amarillo, sweet potato puree (£9.95).
The gyoza were sensational, with the dumpling texture the perfect balance between doughy and lightly crispy, and the filling generous, juicy and flavoursome.
The warm beef tataki, smoked aji panca, pear, passion fruit salsa (£14.95) was another winner.
The beef was incredibly tender and, though the salsa was rather sweet and may therefore not be to everyone’s taste, I really enjoyed it.
Then came ma favourite taiiiime, sushi taime.
The 6-piece sashimi of tuna, sea bass, salmon (£14.50) was distinctly average, with the salmon buttery soft, but the tuna a little on the tough side and the sea bass chewy and flavourless.
Though the presentation was nice, I think the fish would have benefited from being served less chilled.
The Nikkei sashimi of yellowtail, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno, coriander, yuzu truffle soy (£13.95) was however much better.
The yellowtail was thick and super soft, and was complemented very well by the fresh flavours.
That said, it wasn’t as good as my favourite raw fish dish at Roka, yellowtail sashimi with yuzu truffle dressing, of which the simple combination of just yellowtail and rich yuzu truffle quite literally brings tears of joy to my eyes.
Photo borrowed from the fabulous Elle Bloggs
The Sake dragon roll (8 pcs), salmon, avocado (£12.25) was delicious.
A generous-sized roll filled with plentiful salmon and topped with very ripe, creamy avocado; it was definitely one of the highlights for me.
Sadly, the wild prawn tempura, huacatay, butter ponzu (£15.20) was a real let down.
For such a price I had been expecting tiger prawns, whilst the flavour and texture of these smaller prawns was completely lost in the slightly soggy batter.
It was salvaged somewhat by being smothered in distracting sauces, but in my eyes a good prawn tempura allows the delicate flavour of the prawns to shine and should only be paired with a mild dipping sauce.
Our lamb chops, coriander, Peruvian chili miso (£8.20 per chop) were good, if not a little chewy, but I really loved the light, fresh, tangy marinade which they were bathed in.
Last, but certainly not least, two of my absolute favourite dishes in the whole wide world.
The black cod, yellow chili miso (£24.95), was delicious. A good portion for its price, it’s a shame that it was ever so slightly overdone, but that didn’t stop me from relishing every mouthful.
As for the aubergine miso, apricot, puffed soba, sesame seeds (£9.95), my high expectations for this dish probably exacerbated my disappointment, since it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been.
The aubergine skin had not been crisped at all so the texture of the whole plate was very soft, and the miso and apricot combination sickly sweet.
Still, it was by no means bad.
In short? Cool surroundings, a buzzing vibe, very good food and surprisingly poor service.
I would go back, but mainly to try more of the Peruvian versus Nikkei dishes (which I think are served better just around the corner), and I hear exceptional things about their desserts… so who knows, Chotto Matte Take 2 might occur sooner than expected.