October 20, 2014

Chotto Matte @ Blair Road, Singapore ~ Delicious Sushi & Japanese-inspired Food!

Not to be confused with the Japanese-Peruvian fusion (Nikkei) restaurant in London bearing the same name, the Chotto Matte I'm gonna share with you is a recently-opened tapas bar that sits within the tranquil ambience of Blair Road right here in Singapore (nearest mrt station: NE3 Outram Park). So peacefully charming, we can even hear the birds chirping and sound of piano playing from the nearby private residence as we strolled towards our intended destination for a dinner of Japanese-inspired dishes with European influences.

Occupying two back-to-back shophouse units which also includes an alfresco area that looks like the perfect spot for chilling over after-work drinks, we were first ushered into the dimly-lighted cosy dining hall where we commenced our evening meal, before being told that Chotto Matte has a separate room for omakase specials and sushi. Needless to say, my inquisitive nature told me to check that out.

And look who we found behind the 6-seater sushi bar counter! Chef Roy Chee!

For the uninitiated, Chef Roy is one of the main persons behind Standing Sushi Bar when it began operations back then. Mentored by famous veteran Chef Yoshio Nogawa (who also trained Chef Lawrence Chia of Shinzo), Chef Roy spent more than a decade honing his skills overseas, before coming back to Singapore to helm Standing Sushi Bar, and now Chotto Matte.

(Read: Shinzo Japanese Cuisine at Carpenter Street)

Chef Roy's repertoire of sashimi and sushi delights uses seafood produce specially imported into Singapore twice a week. We can see his evident pride as he enthusiastically showed us the trays of fresh fishes, all ready to go under the knife and into our tummies.

I'm not one who will list raw meat as one of my favorite food but the generously-cut slices of shiro maguro, shima aji and hirame paired with petite dollops of sushi rice were so naturally sweet and meltingly tender, I astounded myself at how much I relished them.

My friend like how the sushi rice is freshly molded by hand (we've been tortured too often by the commercially machine-molded mediocre ones), and is comparatively delicate in taste without being overly-seasoned.

Chef Roy then shared with us that the sushi rice is meticulously cooked with "spring water" to yield a softer, cleaner taste. And the spring water actually comes from a machine that he carried all the way back from Japan, which puts our piped water through a purifying process and converts it into the desirous spring water.

The Omakase Tasting Menu starts at a reasonable $100 per pax and focuses much on these exquisite morsels of seafood freshness. Sets of Chotto/Matte Sashimi ($68/$48, 7/5 types of chef's sashimi selection), Chotto/Matte Sushi Platter ($68/$48, 8/5 kind of sushi with 3 cuts of maki) are also available.

I would perhaps order one of these sets, or maybe the ala-carte Aburi Salmon Maki ($19, torched salmon roll) and Foagura Unagi Maki ($28, pan-seared foie gras & eel roll) on my next visit because there are other numerous tantillating-sounding items on the menu which I wanna try as well! Too much food, too little tummy space necessitate some serious planning. Lol!

We were started off with a serving of complimentary Edamame, while waiting for our orders to arrive. Torikawa ($3, chicken skin) and Tebasaki ($3, chicken wings) came nicely grilled with bits of charred edges. Though there's nothing special or outstanding about both the skewers, it was still decidedly enjoyable as side-dish nibbles or when paired with Chotto Matte's extensive range of Japanese single malt whisky, sake, wine or beer.

There wasn't any doubt when it comes to the decision of ordering the Buta Kakuni ($29, braised pork belly with sweet sauce), mainly because my dining companion and I love this part of the pig where luscious fats and lean meat interlay each other, and another friend who has visited Chotto Matte prior to mine told me it's 'yums' and 'must-try'. We felt the savory sweet sauce is 'yums' indeed but the pork belly itself needed that tad more of tenderness before we can verdict it to the 'must-try' status.

Our recommended must-try dish went to the Wagyu Foagura Fried Rice ($18, fried rice with wagyu beef and foie gras). Admittedly I was skeptical when my eyes saw its less-than-stellar appearance (I was envisioning bigger chunks of beef and foie gras), but my nose smelled its highly aromatic potential and told me not to simply dismiss it. And when our tongues finally tasted the delicious grains of garlicky eggy rice with bursts of beefy goodness and duck liver's fatty creaminess, we were made happy. We experienced bliss in a bowl.

Service was efficient and friendly, the door hostess even came over to our table and gave me a gentle reminder when she saw that I was taking quite awhile with the photo-taking: "Girl, eat first before the food gets cold". Haha, just like a concerned mummy!

Though still fairly new, I was told that Chotto Matte is already quite popular with corporate customers for evening drinks and private events. And fans of Chef Roy Chee know where to find him now. "Chotto Matte" means "wait a second" in Japanese, and my take on this is: Don't wait too long to visit this lovely establishment with food is worth waiting for :)

Chotto Matte
Address: 54 Blair Road #01-01, Singapore 089954
Contact: +65 6222 8846
Website: http://www.chottomatte.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chottomattesg
Opening Hours: Daily 5pm-12am

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