Chotto Matte: Restaurateur Kurt Zdesar Brings Nikkei Cuisine Across the Pond
In a business where it’s difficult enough to have just one success, Kurt Zdesar’s passion, creativity and tireless enthusiasm has rewarded him (and the public!) with multiple restaurant hits.
Born in Sydney Australia but now living in London where he has several successful eateries (Chotto Matte, Black Roe, Fucina and Paneterria by Fucina), Kurt Zdesar opened the visually stunning Chotto Matte in Miami Beach one year ago just one block from bustling Lincoln Road. Despite the massive size of its unique door, the restaurant’s understated entrance takes a bit of looking-for but once you make it past the threshold you feel as though you have just discovered a secret passage to a hip and elegant Shangri-La.
The space is quite large, yet still comfortably intimate and sophisticated. The incredibly high ceiling lined in black, charred wood planks (created by a Japanese wood burning technique known as Shou Sugi Ban) leads the eye to a retractable skylight with lush greenery growing down from above. The walls are painted by well-known graffiti artists and the large mural of the artist Ahol’s iconic “drowsy eyes” keep a playful look-out on all the action.
As much as the restaurant’s decor draws you in, it’s the food that will keep you intrigued. Chotto Matte’s menu is based on traditional Peruvian Nikkei cuisine which may at first seem a bit unusual until you are made aware of the history of the population of Peru. Nikkei cuisine evolved from the blending of indigenous ingredients and traditional recipes with those brought to Peru from Japan by the large numbers of Japanese immigrants who came to Peru at the end of the nineteenth century.
Chotto Matte’s executive chef, Jordan Sclare has done an excellent job in creating an extensive menu featuring fresh, brightly-flavored and unique offerings with a flair for the visually dramatic (for example, the torching of some of the Nikkei Dressed Sushi dishes like the Salmon Picante Roll which is done at your table).
The menu is vast, and it is recommended that each person order 3-4 dishes, all of which lend themselves to sharing. We went for lunch which made for a peaceful yet visually stimulating experience, but Chotto Matte feels very “late night” and we are sure the evenings take on a completely different vibe. Pro-tip: Take your phone flashlight to the black light lit bathrooms.
First time visitors might find the number of choices a bit overwhelming so here are some stand-outs to be considered. Tentáculos de Pulpo (beautifully tender, grilled slices of octopus served with a citrusy yuzu sauce and Peruvian purple potato puree).
Chuleta de Cordero Ahumada (marinated and smoked lamb chops with cilantro and Peruvian chili miso), Pato Crujiente con Salsa Peruana (crispy duck with honey-orange ponzu and jalapeño) which might best be described as a delectable Asian interpretation of a traditional duck confit and the Bacalao Negro Ahi Miso (black cod enrobed in a deceptively light miso sauce) which was incredibly buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
The Aguacate a la Parrilla (grilled avocado halves topped with a sprinkling of tangy Tajin seasoning, a truffle ponzu drizzle and pomegranate seeds) and the Nasu Miso (thin slices of sautéed eggplant with miso, sweet/tangy bits of dried apricots, puffed soba and sesame seeds)were among our favorite meat-free offerings and not be be missed.
For dessert the Brûlée de la Passión (a passion fruit creme brûlée with a scoop of guava sorbet and two small pyramids of deliciously dense almond cake) makes the perfect, shareable ending to the meal.
Chotto Matte’s "Tokyo to Lima” signature drinks menu is also impressive. The Lychee Picante (a spicy-sweet, Maestro Dobel Silver tequila-based cocktail garnished with slices of dried dragon fruit) is wonderfully refreshing and the She’s So Smoking (a Hennessy cognac-based drink) comes in a sealed beaker filled with Lapsang smoke that when poured in to the glass releases a cloud of richly-scented smoky vapor.
Chotto Matte Miami is honoring Japan's Sakura (Cherry Blossom) season with an all-new menu featuring dishes inspired by the famous flower along with a Cherry Blossom forest installation in the restaurant's lounge space.
Travel to Japan and celebrate the season at Chotto Matte on Thursday, May 9th, for a Pink Piccolo Party featuring passed bites and Moët Rose champagne.
The cocktail soirée will run from 8:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. PINK attire is highly recommended.
With so many wonderful dishes to try, the only feasible option is to be sure to make your way to Chotto Matte several times. Day or Night.
1664 Lenox Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Sunday - Thursday 12pm - 12am
Friday & Saturday 12pm - 1 am
Happy Hour (every day) 3pm - 7pm