What and where? You’ll know the original Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant Bamboo Mat opposite Leyton Midland. Well, it proved such a hit that a second has opened a mile or so away in East Village.
How does it differ? This new dining room is much bigger, with an outdoor terrace in the heart of Victory Park (usefully it’s next to craft beer bar Mother Kelly, too). There’s a massive 84 covers, a long open kitchen and a private area for special events. The rather lovely architecturally designed interior is by Sebastian Salas, inspired by the Peruvian arts and crafts he grew up with. In short, it’s pretty damn impressive.
What’s the vibe? Once again, it’s simply to bring a fresh perspective on Nikkei cooking (Peruvian-Japanese fusion) to East London: chef-owner Denis Gobjila (formerly at Chotto Matte) and his business partner, Victor Rosca (formerly at Sushisamba and Lucky Cat) are genuine pioneers in the capital of this burgeoning cuisine.
And so to business. You might know some of the classics, if you’ve been to the Leyton branch: there’s superior sea bass ceviche, for example, in a vivid orange tiger’s milk; there’s tiradito (sashimi in a citrus sauce) and maki rolls. Mains include grilled salmon or chicken thigh teriyaki (an absolute fave of ours) and sliced chargrilled anticucho octopus leg.
So let’s begin. In East Village we decide to try a few dishes new to us. Exclusive items here are a delicate one-mouthful artichoke tostada with salsa verde (pictured above) and a unique take on padron peppers, sticky-salty with mango miso sauce and sweet pepper.
Meanwhile, the ceviche deluxe is a pretty orange pool of raw seabass, scallop and prawn in a zingy passion fruit and tiger’s milk, paired with the tartness of red onion and textural snap of chancha corn.
And the sushi? We enjoy watching the calm choreography of the open kitchen: the chefs are on top of their game, whether it’s expert spicy tuna maki, given a touch of umami heat with the Japanese seven-spice shichimi, or the melt-in-the-mouth signature Bamboo Maki, vegetarian rolls topped with slivers of A4 Grade wagyu beef. This is, in fact, blow-torched at the table theatrically by the waiter (cameraphones at the ready).
An unexpected highlight? There are two – both dishes you’d not necessarily consider ordering at a Nikkei restaurant. Slow-cooked ox cheek teriyaki falls apart at the light prod of a chopstick or spoon, yuzu to cut through the richness, a whorl of potato puree for comfort; and secondly, a trio of butter-soft lamb chops marinated in anticucho sauce – a classic garlicky, lemony, herby affair – simply ooze juiciness, crumbled pistachios for crunch. A side of grilled broccoli is adorned with soy, crispy onions and sesame seeds.
Dessert? I’m not sweet-toothed, but an appealingly tiny well-balanced passionfruit and raspberry cheesecake is gone in a couple of mouthfuls.
Some wine? Absolutely: house red is £25 a bottle (not bad these days), with a Provence-style rose at £32. And the Peruvian cocktails are, of course a must: the Pisco Sour (pisco, lime, gome syrup, egg white, angostura) is the perfect aperitif, although a Passion Fruit Margarita – which sounds sickly – is as tartly grown-up as a negroni.
Anything else we should know? Service is efficient, with some staff keener to impart their choices on diners than others. Overall, these branches are an asset to the E10, E17, E11, E20 and E15 neighbourhoods: use them or lose them. And while this style of food isn’t cheap, there’s always the £12 set lunch for a more affordable treat now and again.
Bamboo Mat Stratford, 21-24 Victory Parade, East Village, London E20 1FS, for the full menu and prices head here. And follow @_bamboomatstratford
Leytonstoner ate as guests of Bamboo Mat Stratford.