An enjoyable dinner is often dependent on your mood. Sometimes you crave a calorific blowout. Sometimes you need a health kick. Sometimes your dinner is predominantly liquid (those ones are always fun; the subsequent breakfast, less so). Sometimes you dine alone and savour every second of blissful silence.
And sometimes – sometimes you just want a vibe. Good food combined with an atmosphere that promises both you and the night are young. Fellow diners who appear to be halfway between the runway show and the afterparty. The sense that you are where it’s at – even if you’re not exactly sure what it is.
Enter Chotto Matte. The Nikkei restaurant was founded in 2013 by Kurt Zdesar and now boasts multiple locations across London, America and the Middle East – with several more in the offing. Offering an experience as sleek and glossy as its clientele, housed inside venues that could easily masquerade as a Mayfair nightclub, it’s not hard to understand why Chotto Matte is a brand on the up.
(A word on the decor: expect big, bright artworks, low lighting in the evening and enough vegetation to shame the average rainforest. Your Instagram will like you.)
You have two Chotto Mattes in London: Soho and Marylebone. The Soho restaurant is the party one, while Marylebone is a little more relaxed. In terms of food, I’d imagine the experience is pretty similar across the world – successful high-end restaurant chains tend to prioritise consistency. The clientele want to know what they’re getting, whether they dine in Miami or Doha. And Chotto Matte’s clientele, certainly the ones within view of our table, look like the type of jet setters who traverse the continents on a fairly regular basis.
So. Chotto Matte specialises in Nikkei, a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine that has become something of a culinary phenomenon in recent years. This seemingly unlikely combination dates back to the late 19th century and the emigration of the Japanese to South America, with Peru proving a particularly popular destination. Today, the country has the second largest Japanese population in South America after Brazil.
And no doubt about it: Nikkei works, and so does Chotto Matte. Sea Bass Ceviche followed by Tuna Tataki? Marinated miso chicken giving way to Amazonian BBQ Salmon? Like Tom and Jerry, Simon and Garfunkel, Japan and Peru just gel together – at least on the plate. These are luxury dishes you can almost pretend are healthy, fine dining that won’t stop you from hitting the dance floor or compromise tomorrow morning’s yoga class. (Hitting the dance floor might compromise tomorrow morning’s yoga class but that’s hardly Chotto Matte’s fault.)
My advice? Select one of the sharing menus – ranging from £55 to £115pp – and truly explore what Nikkei has to offer. Each menu comes with its own optional wine pairings – which are all £10pp less than the food offering – to ensure maximum enjoyment and zero vacillation. Wash down with a couple of Pisco Sours and you’re golden.
It’s worth noting that, along with its sharing menus, Chotto Matte Soho also offers lunch, brunch and pre-theatre menus. The pre-theatre menu is served in a Bento box, while brunch offers the option of including free-flowing champagne. I really don’t think you’re living properly if you don’t take them up on it.
Finally, the name – Chotto Matte is a Japanese colloquialism that roughly translates to 'wait a moment'. Impress your dining companions with that piece of trivia at the opportune moment.
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11, 13 Frith St, London W1D 4RB; Chotto Matte