Chotto Matte

Why go here:

For fusion Japanese and Peruvian food. What a unique combination!

What it looks like:

Stepping into Chotto Matte feels almost like stepping into a VIP club. The glossy black floor, the funky wall art, the disco ball like bulbs and the stylish diners all add to this high-end club like feel to the place.

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A special mention for the toilets- most interesting of any London hotel or restaurant I’ve ever been to. You are led to the toilets through a corridor with fluorescent lights projecting artwork onto the walls. Once inside, the cubicles themselves have all shiny, black doors but more importantly, are extremely heavy! I almost got stuck in the cubicle but was able to push after five, painfully long minutes of extremely wrestling with the door knob and panicking.

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The food:

The dishes are all small plates – some primarily Japanese or Peruvian and some combining the two. Since we’d had Japanese as well as Peruvian on their own before, we decided to order the fusion dishes, i.e. those of Nikkei cuisine. We started with the Tostaditas- small tacos but with a confluence of Japanese and Latin American toppings. First up was the Tuna Tostadita- with Tuna sashimi, jalapeno, coriander and wasabi. It was pretty amazing to see how all these different ingredients had been packed on top of one of little taco and also how well the flavours worked together.

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Our second one was the Tomato and Kumquat Tostadita with coriander and chive oil, which was as colorful and as fun a mouthful as the first one.

Our next dishes were from the Nikkei BBQ section- the Pollo den miso and the Maize Huancaina. The Miso chicken came with a yellow chilli salsa and a fine slaw of carrot and daikon, which is a mild sweet-sharp Japanese radish. The Maize was cooked in coriander and garlic butter and served with a yummy cheesy dip.

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Our favourite dish, however, was the Barriguita de chanchito, which consisted of tender pork belly barbecued with Peruvian chilli peppers and garnished with a pear and tomato salsa. The pork was soft and superbly crisp-skinned and the marinade was absolutely gob-smacking.

We also ordered some Yuca Frita, i.e. bowl of Cassava chips served with  a smoked panca (Peruvian pepper) dip. These were some of the chunkiest and largest chips I’d ever had, not to mention very tasty, since Cassava is sweeter and more flavourful than potatoes. This is a good side because the rest of the dishes are pretty small.

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Verdict:

Nikkei cuisine is colorful and fun and very delicious. The extensive menu together with the unique dishes and the snazzy vibes of Chotto Matte, makes eating here a must-have dining experience.

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Lima Floral

Why go here:

Sister restaurant of the Lima, the first Michelin star Peruvian in Europe. So, you get lower prices but closely matched quality and innovation in the food.

What it looks like:

The place looks like a bistro in a navy blue and white theme and with a mural adorning one of the walls to add that Latin American touch.

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The food:

While London has quite a few noteworthy Peruvian restaurants, Lima Floral stands out because the focus of the menu is on the use of South American ingredients rather than on the standard Peruvian style of cooking such as with ceviches and anticuchos. You’ll instead find twists on European dishes through the use of exotic vegetables and herbs. The lamb rump came with fluffy ‘eco dry potatoes’, black quinoa flavoured with the Huacatay herb and fresh Latin American cheese! The potatoes were definitely the star component for me.

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The sea bass ceviche with sweet potato and hot tiger’s milk was a welcome variation to the chilled raw seafood ceviche I’d had before and very beautifully presented too.

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Verdict:

If you are looking to try Peruvian food made using real Peruvian ingredients incorporated into contemporary  European dishes then this is the place to go. However, if this is the first time you’re planning to have Peruvian, it might be better to start with one of the more traditional Peruvian eateries to get better introduced to the flavours before moving onto the more subtly Peruvian dishes at Lima.