After Hours: Chotto Matte Invites Diners on a Journey With Its New Cocktail Menu

By Jessica Huras

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The slogan at Chotto Matte is “come as you are” – a welcoming ethos that makes the restaurant an ideal destination for hosting clients and developing new business relationships. “We want everyone to feel included and feel like they can come and enjoy themselves,” explains Chotto Matte’s head chef Luis E. Avila. 

The Financial District restaurant specializes in Nikkei cuisine, a distinctive cooking style developed by Japanese immigrants in Peru that blends the flavours and culinary techniques of the two cultures. “You really have an opportunity to experience different flavours that will entice conversations,” says Avila. 

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First opened in 2019, Chotto Matte’s Toronto outpost is stepping up its game this summer with a revamped patio inspired by the Peruvian rainforest and a soon-to-be-released new cocktail menu called “From Tokyo to Lima.” The restaurant’s new line-up of signature cocktails features Japanese- and Peruvian-inspired ingredients ranging from purple corn and tropical fruits to miso and teriyaki sauce.  

“The idea is we’re trying to take you on a voyage from Tokyo to Lima,” explains Chotto Matte’s global bar manager, Gabor Fodor.  “You start with a very heavy Japanese influence and then when you get to Peru, it’s very Peruvian influenced but on the way there – from east to west – you get influence from other cultures.”

Chotto Matte outdoor seating
Outdoor patio seating at Chotto Matte.

The Ikigai cocktail embodies these en-route global influences, nodding to Tiki culture with its bright, summery flavour. Its name comes from a Japanese word describing “purpose” or “reason for being”. “It’s a beautiful word with a lot of meaning behind it,” says Fodor. 

The Ikigai cocktail sees blanco tequila and bianco vermouth mixed with cointreau, mango, avocado, coriander cordial, lime, and Tellicherry pepper. It’s served in a chilled Tiki mug and garnished with a bamboo leaf, along with a piece of candied kumquat that’s been cooked in sugar and dehydrated. 

Chotto Matte Toronto Interior
Interior of Chotto Matte.

The cilantro and black pepper bring a savoury element that balances the drink’s fruit-forward flavour. “It’s very refreshing but you have a little heat from the black pepper,” says Fodor. “We call it a ‘smashable’ drink.”

The Ikigai cocktail makes a wonderful pairing for Chotto Matte’s yellowtail Nikkei sashimi, which is topped with cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, and yuzu truffle soy. The sashimi’s citrus yuzu finish is a lovely compliment to the cocktail’s fruity flavour. “The yellowtail sashimi is a light flavour profile so we don’t ever want something that overpowers it,” says Fodor “It’s about supporting the dish.”

Chotto Matte cocktail
Ikigai cocktail from Chotto Matte.

Chef Avila says Chotto Matte’s upscale yet relaxed dining style is a rarity in the Financial District. “We have a lot of old-school restaurants [in this neighbourhood] – you sit down, you have a steak, you talk business, and that’s it,” he says, “but when you come here to Chotto Matte, you have a little bit more interaction with the staff and the chefs.”

Fodor believes Chotto Matte’s sharing-style menu makes it the perfect place to cultivate professional relationships. “The sharing brings people together,” he says.

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