The Halal: Sadly for me, none of the food at Chotto Matte is halal, nor are they able to pre-order halal meats. Nonetheless, I set off to sample another London Nikkei restaurant. They seem to be popping up everywhere you look these days! Alcohol and pork are served here. There is an abundance of vegetarian and seafood dishes on the menu which is why it’s very easy for haloodies (halal foodies) like me to dine here!
The Place: Someone was tripping with highlighter pens when they designed the fluorescent interior of the restaurant.. I loved it! The restaurant has a great location slap bang in the middle of Soho’s Frith street. It was perhaps slightly loud for the daytime, but I loved the energy of the place. A huge graffiti mural mounts one side of the entire restaurant and the sleek, dark furniture ensures the art is a focal point.
Downstairs, you’ll find a massive abstract painting illuminating the corridor on the way to the loos… Illuminating how I hear you ask? Well it’s in Glow-in-the-dark paint of course!
The Food: Nikkei is a type of fusion cuisine which combines classical Japanese styles of cooking with Latin American flavours and ingredients (particularly from Peru). The dishes are all made for sharing and around 3-4 plates per person were recommended by our waiter. Signature dishes are boxed on the menu which made decisions slightly easier for us first-timers. The menu is also divided into different styles of cooking: barbeque, salads, sushi, tostaditas and so on. I’d recommend picking at least one dish from each section in order to truly experience the range of exciting fusion cooking.
The seabass sashimi with sweet potato, Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil and citrus sauce was a refreshing dish. The fish was delicate and very thinly sliced and the texture contrasted well with the crunchiness of smoked corn. The tartness of the citrus sauce worked well with the seabass but the coriander and chive oil felt a bit misplaced.
The paperthin vegetables were recommended to us. The salad contained daikon, beetroot and carrots which were sliced into paperthin strips and served standing tall amongst a garden of quinoa, physalis and seasoned with lime. The dish came as a really pleasant suprise. The techniques implemented by the chefs blew me away and I was suprised with how good they made humble salad ingredients taste!
The tuna and yellowfin tartare with avacado, corn and a rich blackberry salsa looked like a piece of gastronomical art. The tartare itself was lovely and soft but I found the blackberry salsa bitter and overpowering. The presentation could not be faulted, particularly the edible flower which was a sophisticated touch.
Deep-fried cassava wedges were crispy and golden on the outside but remained soft and sweet inside. They were served with a rich smoked panca dip.
The purple potato puree shocked and awed us in colour but disappointed on taste. I found the puree underseasoned and the combination of battered fritters with a pureed carbohydrate made the plate feel very stodgy. A contrast of texture or some acidity may have created a better balance.
The meal ended on a high note with the Sato Maki sushi, made from seabass, salmon, romano peppers and lime soy. The rolls were flamed at our table with a blow torch creating much drama and they tasted equally impressive.
The Price: If you’re ordering from the a la carte menu, then expect to pay around £40 per person for around 4 dishes. There are also a selection of sharing menus priced between £40-60 and an excellent value pre-theatre menu serving three courses for £25.
The Verdict: I’d definitely go back to Chotto Matte. I’m finding that each of these Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurants have their own unique selling point. For ceviche, this was not my favourite place in London but the barbecued plates and sushi were excellent!