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Ping Pong founder to open Nikkei restaurant in London's Soho

By Emma Eversham , 04-Feb-2013
Last updated on 04-Feb-2013 at 18:05 GMT

Kurt Zdesar, the founder of dim sum chain Ping Pong, has announced plans to open a restaurant in London's Soho this autumn that will focus on serving Nikkei cuisine, the fusion of Japanese cooking with Peruvian ingredients. 

The 180-cover restaurant and bar, called Chotto Matte (meaning 'wait a minute' in Japanese), will open in Frith Street in September with plans to serve 'fresh and high quality Japanese inspired Nikkei cuisine' alongside a large selection of Japanese drinks. 

Zdesar, who also helped launch Nobu in London as head of Nobu Europe, before going on to establish Ping Pong, said he had chosen London again for his latest project because it made good business sense. 

He said: "I have spent the last few years travelling and working outside the UK; it has been very visible that there is buoyancy in the London restaurant economy and demand for new and exciting concepts, which are driving restaurateurs to continue investing here. I believe that London is a platform to launch a brand that can reach world recognition." 

"I love London," he added. "I think it's the best city in the world and it has been good to me. It is a city that never stops buzzing, packed with people and activity from dusk 'til dawn, with such multicultural diversity you feel the whole world is represented here.

"We have the who's who of the worlds fashion, music, art and creative industries, which probably explains why it has seen growth during a period whilst the rest of world has been experiencing a harsh economic downturn."

One-off

Chotto Matte's menu has been developed by Japanese chef Hiroki Takemura, formerly of Nobu and Zuma and it will include a seven-course tasting menu for £40. 

Interior designer Andrew Martin has been drafted in to design the restaurant that will feature a lounge bar, sushi bar and robata grill as well as the main restaurant. Martin will fuse natural materials such as lava stone and burnt cedar with art inspired by Tokyo's contemporary urban culture. 

Restaurant consultant Zdesar, who has launched restaurants in Beiruit, Bahrain and more recently Sweden and Switzerland, said despite helping Ping Pong grow to more than eight sites while he was involved with the company, he was not looking to do the same with Chotto Matte, currently the only restaurant he owns. 

"In the future I would love to see this concept travel abroad," he told BigHospitality. "However, unlike previous projects, with this one I am not interested to open more than one in London. I want this to remain unique and individual to Soho."

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