Last week, I had the fantastic treat of attending a #ZomatoMeetup at Chotto Matte, a restaurant in Soho specializing in Nikkei cuisine (a blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine). Fans of Nobu will recognize the names attached to Chotto Matte as it's the brainchild of Nobu restaurateur Kurt Zdesar, with Executive Chef Jordan Sclare (of Aqua Kyoto and Nobu) at the helm.
Whilst I'm usually skeptical of fusion cuisine, the concept of Nikkei is legit: with its roots in Peru, Nikkei simply brings together the existing, yet complementary, flavors of Japanese and Peruvian staples. For example, coriander and wasabi were added to tuna sashimi, which was then carefully placed atop a crispy corn tortilla to form a delicious tostadita. The addition of jalapeno gave it a fiery kick, while the wasabi provided a different kind of heat. All sorts of yum.
And let me tell you: it definitely works. So damn delicious.
We were lucky enough to sample some of these tasty tostadita creations after watching Head Chef Michael Paul's demonstration:
I'm a huge fan of ceviche and sashimi, so these melt-in-the-mouth spoonfuls suited me perfectly!
Before taking a tour of the restaurant, we sampled some amazing cocktails made from Pisco (which I loved, since I'm a huge fan of dessert wines and brandy) and a blend of Pisco and sake.
From Pisco sours to the Chotto Matte's signature cocktail (and my personal favorite) Cuatro Uvas (Acholado Pisco, St Germain, Akashi-Tai sake, lime, grapes and celery bitters), we tried them all. I was surprised I was still standing at the end of the evening!
Chotto Matte's Head Bar Chef, Fabiano Latham, talked us through each cocktail as they were being prepared.
I loved the Cuatro Uvas cocktail (as shown being mixed by Fabiano above): sweet, light, and refreshing, it's the perfect cocktail to sip pre-dinner (unless you're me, of course, in which case you should consume about 20 tostaditas prior to sipping to avoid any early drunken embarrassments).
From there, we headed for a tour of the restaurant, which blew my mind. There's just so much going on at Chotto Matte.
Downstairs is the extensive bar area, where delicious Pisco and sake cocktails are mixed and served alongside salmon guacamole, tuna & yellowtail tartar, and yellowtail yuzu truffle tostaditas, but venture upstairs and you reach the main restaurant, which consists of the amazing exposed Robata grill (serving smokey Nikkei BBQ) and Chotto Matte's long sushi bar, where Sushi Chef Keita Sato (not pictured) nimbly rolls sushi faster than the orders can be put through.
I did capture some sushi making though, and had to keep my mouth clamped firmly shut lest I drool over the counter ...
We were also lucky enough to get a "backstage" tour of the busy kitchen, which included a glimpse of the huge vat of bubbling oil where tempura is made (mmm ... tempura!) and the neverending supply of rice. So. Much. Rice.
I always love taking a peek into the kitchens of busy, successful restaurants (even though I feel bad because I feel like I'm totally in the way). I'm always struck by the contrast between the calm, cool front-of-house and the frenetic pace of the kitchen - it definitely offers a glimpse into the "real" side of the restaurant industry and show just how much effort and artistry is involved in creating beautiful, delicious dishes.
And when I got home, I opened the goody bag we were given to find these adorable treats:
The food and cocktails at Chotto Matte were incredible. I can't wait to take John there and am trying to book a table as we speak! If you haven't tried Nikkei cuisine before, Chotto Matte's a great place to start.
Special thanks to Chotto Matte and ZomatoUK for hosting us at an incredible evening!