Chotto Matte brings Nikkei cuisine to Bay Street
Looking for a place to close your next deal? Let ‘Where To Take Your Clients’ be your guide to the most delectable spots in the city. London’s Chotto Matte lands in Toronto—here’s what to order at the new Nikkei hotspot.
Location: 161 Bay Street, Brookfield Place, Toronto, ON, M5J 1C4
Must-try eats: Seafood-based appetizers such as the Nikkei Sashimi and the Shrimp Spring Roll are very popular at Chotto Matte; for a main, try one of the Nikkei Dressed sushi sets, or plates from the Robata grill, such as the beef Lomo a la Parrilla.
Libations: Order a pisco sour, or deep dive into the bar’s “Tokyo To Lima”-themed cocktails menu highlighting anything-but-basic ingredients such as Miguel Torres Chile pisco, wasabi, shiso leaf and green tea.
Where to sit so you’re in-and-out in 60 minutes: Grab a front row, fast-paced seat to the action at the sleek sushi bar.
Chotto Matte aspires to be convenient for a deluxe midday lunch with clients, and entertaining for fun nights out with colleagues or friends—nightly DJ’s and lively music are both on the schedule.
The spacious 10,000 sq. ft. space—designed by Andy Martin Architecture to reflect an underground Tokyo-inspired vibe—is moody, colourful and richly detailed. Oversized, artist-commissioned murals run the length of the space. There’s a Robata grill counter and sushi bar in the main dining area, a sake and pisco-focused lounge, AkACHAN, and an outdoors terrace in the works.
If you’ve been to Peru, you may know that the South American country has a surprisingly large Japanese population. The mixing of these distinctive cultures has given rise to a vibrant new style of cuisine: Nikkei. Chotto Matte highlights the contrasts and vibrancy of Nikkei cuisine—the menu celebrates essential South American ingredients and recipes, but elegantly incorporates Japanese techniques and flavours into each course.
“I don’t like the word fusion because fusion suggests to me that you take one thing and take another thing, and you push it together and make it work,” says Chotto Matte owner and founder Kurt Zdesar. “But this was an evolution of cuisine.” The first Chotto Matte opened in September 2013 in London, and there is also another location in Miami and a Saint-Tropez pop-up.
Under the direction of Executive Chef Jordan Sclare, the Toronto menu features convenient and quick Lunch Flights, tasting menus and bento boxes during the day, and more extensive offerings at dinner.
“You have to have the Nikkei sashimi, which is yellowtail that’s cut sashimi style,” advises Zdesar. “It’s probably the dish that everyone really has.” He also recommends the Shrimp Spring Roll, which features ebi shrimp rolled in a French pastry and served with a refreshing shiso sauce. The Pollo Nipón and Pollo Den Miso, both cooked on a Robata grill, are also very popular—the latter is marinated in miso and garlic. “Just that combination of savoury garlic and the sweetness of the miso [once it’s] caramelized on the charcoal grill…it’s stupidly popular. It’s amazing,” says Zdesar. “Everyone who tries it, just wants to order it again.”
The cute cocktail lounge, AkACHAN, alone is worth a visit to Chotto Matte. The extensive drinks menu offers classics with a twist, and innovative flavour combinations that are sure to delight. “We use a lot of Japanese ingredients and Peruvian ingredients in our cocktails,” says Zdesar. “And, actually, the combination is just as good as in the food.” There’s green tea and aji amarillo chile in the Nikkei Negroni, and the Holy Water blends Miguel Torres Chile pisco with junmai sake.
On the non-alcoholic side, the menu offers Peruvian staples such as Chicha Morada, a refreshing, purple corn-based drink, and vibrant juice blends featuring bold ingredients such as yuzu, shiso and ginger.