Chotto

Robert Kwak

Chotto

By Amy Sherman

The food at Chotto is just right for sharing, although the bacon mochi—a combo of smoky crisp nori and tender, gummy slabs of savory pounded rice sandwiched by thick bacon—is good enough to cause even polite diners to get grabby. Dishes range from traditional Japanese bar snacks, like chicken kara-age marinated in soy and ginger, to the unconventional such as uni gohan, an uni “risotto” with shallots, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

We love the buta belly—skewers of crispy, fatty pork belly seasoned with rough sea salt—but only after an order or two of the standout bacon mochi. Hatake sarada, a warm frisee and Japanase mushroom salad punctuated by crispy chunks of bacon, a fried egg, and a shimmer of garlic-ponzu dressing, disappears in three bites. Calamari strips with yuzu-ponzu butter sauce, an order of mentaimo (grilled potato salad, spicy pollock roe, jalapeño mayonnaise), and a house-made cocktail complete the evening.

the scene

Never mind the lively Latin music, Chotto is an izakaya—a place for drinks and small plates. It’s in the Marina, but the crowd is cosmopolitan.

... on the side

bottoms up
The sake menu at Chotto is impressive, as are the poetic descriptions. If you’ve ever wondered what a “cabin in the snow”—with flavors of mellow peach, strawberries, and crisp white pepper—tastes like, now’s your chance.

sweet seats
Nab a spot at the bar if you can. It’s the best perch for watching drinks and raw dishes being prepared.

beans to spill
Chef Armando Justo previously worked at Ozumo and Yoshi's. Despite his Spanish origins, his menu—and his heart—is entrenched in Japanese flavors and preparations.

decibels
Medium

hours

Sun–Thu 5:30 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 5:30 PM–11 PM

price range

$5 (deep fried tofu) to $16 (baby back pork ribs)
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