When one thinks of London, they think of cultural diversity and this is mirrored in its cuisine. Having spent three years studying in the city, my eyes have been opened to a new realm of culinary experiences. Ranging from humble Caribbean flavours in the South East, a multitude of Asian choice in the East and more refined styles in the city’s affluent West. Unfortunately, my time in London has come to an end, however, my thirst for new discoveries has not. I am to journey through France and Spain, two of Europe’s greatest culinary destinations, in order to discover new flavours, styles and eating experiences. Before I embarked on my trip, it seemed fitting to have my last supper at Chotto-Matte, a Japanese – Peruvian fusion restaurant in the West End, a concept which epitomises the city’s multiculturalism and fine dining scene.
Their website boasts, ‘an evening at Chotto-Matte will give you an experience you will want to repeat.’ Having arrived earlier than my guest, I was ushered to a bar where the space-age stools were not for sitting. From my rickety perch I observed my surroundings; garish décor consisting of black tiled floor and dim lighting. It did, however, serve as a viewing platform from which I could watch young City boys goad one another, Chinese tourists expertly scoff sushi surrounded by an abundance of designer shopping bags and businessmen with their wedding rings safely tucked in their silk-lined pockets.
Once seated, we were presented with our menu. I was simply overwhelmed by the complex literature put in front of me. The menu, however, is merely a reflection of this extravagant eatery, which climbs three floors that house a cocktail lounge, a 55-cover restaurant, a sushi bar, a Robata grill which caters to a 100-cover dining room and four kitchens. Fortunately, my guest had been before, she could therefore aid my navigation through the four page maze.
Of the many dishes we ordered, the highlight for my dining companion was the Padrόn peppers glazed in miso, an excellent evolution of the simple Spanish classic. For me, the Tentáculos de pulpo – octopus tentacles – were tender and not over powered by the teriyaki sauce that seemed to coat everything, they conjured images of childhood vacations to Greek islands where I have fond memories of watching men haul live octopus from the water. If Chotto-Matte’s Tentáculos de pulpo could evoke such personal memories they must be doing something right.
Another pleasant dish was the Asado de Tira – slow cooked beef short rib glazed in teriyaki sauce– which dissolved upon contact with my taste buds, demonstrating the quality of the meat and the drawn out cooking process. To my surprise, both the beef and the octopus were served with purple potatoes, a smooth, smoked mash that was a new flavour to me and most enjoyable. Given the size of the menu, however, the recurrence of this side dish was a little disappointing.
My favoured Peruvian element of the meal was the seabass ceviche. The citrus, coriander and chive oil that coated the fish and slightly cooked it was very refreshing. The toasted corn added a crunchy element I had never before experienced with ceviche; however, it did not compare to its Peruvian counterpart just down the road, at Ceviche.
Perhaps the only reasonably priced course was the Chotto-Matte ‘Dessert Platter’ consisting of, sorbets, Salted caramel chocolate fondant, as rich as you would expect from a good fondant, Coconut Mount Piyashiri which I can only describe as a modern, deconstructed Banoffee Pie and Brûlée de la passiόn, which was good but lacked the latter.
Nevertheless, I ended up paying £160 for two people to eat unexceptional sushi, chocolate fondant and to sit in a room that harried each of my senses relentlessly for my entire visit. If it wasn’t for the quality of my company I wouldn’t have stayed for the two hours we were there. Perhaps I stand alone in my dislike for garish décor and boisterous ambience but I am sorry Chotto-Matte, I’m not sure I would like to repeat my experience.