Chotto Matte San Francisco: A One-of-a-Kind Dining Experience

Opening a 14,000 sq. ft. restaurant in downtown San Francisco might seem like risky business when one considers that the last few years have not been especially kind to the industry. But restaurateur Kurt Zdesar felt confident when he introduced his Nikkei focused Chotto Matte to the city this past fall. After all, the restaurant concept had found previous success during similarly uncertain times in the cosmopolitan locales of Miami, Toronto, London, and Doha. The combination of stylish design, exotic cocktails, innovative cuisine, and entertainment proved beyond desirable, indicating a global craving for Zdesar’s brand of immersive hospitality. From all appearances on a recent Thursday evening, Chotto Matte San Francisco, the brand’s first west coast location, appears to be a resounding success.

Chotto Matte’s undulating ceiling echos San Francisco’s hills

Birthday celebrations, girlfriend groups, couples, and business associates filled the massive space, perched on the top floor of the former Macy’s Men’s building at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell. Who previously knew, when shopping for men’s t’s and socks, that this site could be so utterly and stylishly transformed? The Chotto Matte experience begins at ground level, with its LED lit entrance and restaurant specific elevator that opens directly to the eighth floor space, and to fabulous city skyline views. Chotto Matte takes full advantage of its Union Square vistas with its open-air, wrap-around, rooftop terrace and multiple seating areas, outdoor bar, and fire pits. In balmy weather, the space will surely become one of the city’s top hospitality destinations.

Inside, award-winning design by Chotto Matte longstanding partner Andy Martin of SUPERFUTURES features a colorful, undulating ceiling that mimics San Francisco’s varied hills. Japanese lavastone and shou sugi ban wood contrast with tropical greenery, blurring the line between inside and out. Culinary stations such as a robata grill and sushi prep take center stage throughout, creating a theatrical vibe. The bar and its adjacent circular lounge feature a raised DJ booth, whose inhabitant spins the ever present house music that provides the restaurant’s vibrant, syncopated heartbeat.

Within this stylish environ, Chotto Matte celebrates authentic and innovative Nikkei Cuisine, pairing the best of Peruvian and Japanese flavors with exotic cocktails, such as the La Chakana, a blend of Verde Momento mezcal, Chotto vermouth blend, Courvoisier VS cognac, DOM Benedictine and bitters, dramatically torched tableside, the better to extract the complex earthy and smokey flavor. The restaurant’s “Tokyo to Lima” beverage collection is chock full of such creatively crafted cocktails, made with unlikely ingredients and processes. A San Francisco capsule cocktail menu titled “Union Square” features exclusive sips inspired by the local landscape.

The Peruvian and Japanese cultures share a deep appreciation for fresh fish and seasonal ingredients, with Japanese sushi and sashimi and Peruvian ceviche central to their gastronomy, and Chotto Matte pays homage with a menu created by Group Executive Chef Jordan Sclare who has worked for globally renowned restaurants including The Savoy, and Gordan Ramsay’s 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Chelsea. He also served as private chef to Giorgio Armani.

Chotto Matte’s Group Executive Chef Jordan Sclare

Sclare’s menu features mouth-watering items made with fresh organic ingredients. Standouts includes Yellowtail Nikkei Sashimi, Black Cod yuzu-miso, Sato Maki, Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, Pollo Picante, Sea Bass Ceviche, Warm Beef Fillet Tataki, and Amazonian BBQ Salmon. Signature items include the iconic Chotto Branzino Ceviche, Tentáculos de Pulpo, Sato Maki sushi and Pollo den Miso. Choose from five varied Nikkei Tasting Menus (including a solely vegetarian option) that offer a range of these items or go a la carte to create your own perfect feast. Choose from sections such as “A Little Something,” “Small Plates,” “Raw Bar,” “Sushi Bar,” “Robata,” and “Sides.”

Pollo den Miso. Photo by Jamie Lau / Studio Lau
Chotto Matte sushi selection

Zdesar, formerly European director for a Michelin Star Japanese hot spot, consultant for Alan Yau for the launch of Hakassan, and founder of the global dining chain Ping Pong, opened his first Chotto Matte in London in 2013 after identifying a Nikkei cuisine gap in the hospitality sector. The restaurant quickly secured its position as one of the top trailblazing restaurants in the city. Chotto Matte San Francisco appears to be following suit.

Chotto Matte founder Kurt Zdesar

“Overlooking the city, our rooftop restaurant and lounge provide a captivating backdrop for a dining experience that’s truly one-of-a-kind,” said Zdesar. “San Francisco, a city admired for its rich food culture and diversity, feels to me like the perfect fit for Chotto Matte. I welcome local food lovers into our world, where every bite is a journey through the dynamic spectrum of flavors, and every dish tells a tale of tradition meeting creativity.”

Photos courtesy of Chotto Matte

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.