If I were to give the formula for a successful restaurant in Miami I’d say good or very good food, a party atmosphere (or if not party, at least very “buzzy”), and attractive décor. Of course, a must is professional management, which is usually a restaurant group. Witness the staying power – no small thing in this town – of Baoli, Bagatelle, Zuma, and then there’s the relatively new La Petite Maison. Now there’s a new addition to the list from London that promises to be a serious hot spot – Chotto Matte Miami . Chotto Matte is high power – the management and culinary team, the eye popping décor, and the elaborate menu offerings.
You enter through a dramatic, almost stark white façade framed by two tall, thin palm trees. The wall is punctuated by a sole rectangular window with thick irregular flickering candles. The window is blacked out, so there’s no idea of what lies within. The name Chotto Matte is projected on the wall in white, a bold touch.
Within, the low lit 219-seat restaurant with robata grill, sushi bar and cocktail area features Shou Sugi Ban wood ceilings and lush, hanging gardens created by Raymond Jungles. A large floating ceiling inspired by abstracted Japanese roof style known as ‘Irimoya’ brings the outside in and soars three stories, with a fully retractable roof. A 19-ton Sicilian boulder surrounded by palm trees creates a dramatic focal point between the sushi bar and cocktail area. Walls feature a vibrant mural created by Miami’s renowned graffiti artists Aholsniffsglue and Gustavo Oviedo and curated by Marcel Katz . Materials including natural stone, carbon steel, tinted glass, and dark stained timber are carefully intwined for a textured palette.
Restaurant owner and creator Kurt Zdesar of NZR group was formerly with the Nobu Group and launched the first Hakkasan. His executive chef Jordan Sclare has an equally impressive pedigree which includes Gordon Ramsay’s 3 Michelin-Star London restaurant and Nobu Park Lane. Head Chef, Jimmy Gallagher who oversees daily operations was born and raised in Peru. Gallagher comes from Gaston Acurio’s restaurants.
Start out with one of their delicious signature cocktails. We loved the Holy Water made with pisco, sunflower sake, lime solution, bread and hidden rose – tangy with just the right amount of sweetness. There’s also a non alcoholic Natto Matto that sounds delicious, made with pineapple, sesame, wasabi, yuzu and shiso.
The extensive menu is divided into nibbles, hot and cold appetizers, tostadita morada (different combos served on a purple corn tortilla,much like a Peruvian taco), NIkkei sushi, sashimi, tempura, sautee, Nikkei robata, sides, and dessert.
There’s also anticuchera barbecue — meat, fish and seafood made with a Peruvian marinade of aji panca and aji Amarillo chili chargrilled over hot coals. Three, 9 course tasting menus are offered – two Nikkei menus and another vegetarian priced at $50, $65 and $75. Our favorite dishes of the evening were the chotto ceviche with branzino, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, cilantro, chive oil and citrus sauce ($13). The fish was uber fresh, and the flavors blended exquisitely. Warm beef tataki was tender, juicy and tasty, made with smoked aji panca, and served with passion fruit salsa ($14.50).
Another winner was the langosta trufa tempura, perfectly fried lobster, wild shrimp with mushroom truffle tozasu ($25). A solid choice from the robata section is the pollo den miso – chicken miso served with carrot, daikon, and yellow chili salsa ($17).
Desserts which aren’t usually a strong point at Peruvian restaurants, were worth the calories – a Peruvian chocolate crema that was super chocolately and rich with honeycomb, dulce de leche and Suntory whisky ($8). Another good choice is the coconut Mount Piyashiri, a banana parfait with lime, cancha and popcorn.
Dishes are small plates made for sharing. They recommend 4 to 5 per person. Most plates are priced in the mid teens to low twenties.Sushi is priced from $3.25 a piece; sashimi from $6.25 for fish. Sides range from $4-$9 and desserts from $7 – $10. A glass of wine starts at $9 ; from $35 a bottle.
Chotto Matte, at 1664 Lenox Avenue, T.305-690-0743, is open for lunch and dinner and soon plans to offer a happy hour.
Do go and check it out, whether for a drink and a few light bites if you’re watching the budget, a meal, or a night cap. It’s a sight to behold, you’ll eat well, and it’s great fun.