Comment Leyton

Food review: Bamboo Mat, Leyton

Victoria Munro enjoys a meal at a Peruvian-Japanese restaurant famed for its fresh fish

credit Bamboo Mat
credit Bamboo Mat

When they first opened, restaurant Bamboo Mat sent someone all the way to Croydon at the crack of dawn each day to buy fresh fish.

Cooking Peruvian-Japanese, or “Nikkei”, cuisine relies on having the highest-quality seafood possible and, at the time, the suppliers working with London’s other Nikkei restaurants wouldn’t deign to do business outside of Zone 1. A little over a year later, and after Bamboo Mat has proven successful enough to open a second location in Stratford, at least one is willing to make an exception.

Chef Denis Gobjila and business partner Victor Rosca both did their time working at extravagant Nikkei restaurants in central London, the kind that boast locations in Qatar and Dubai, before deciding to bring the cuisine to High Road, Leyton. It’s a move that allows them to charge far less eye-watering prices – a plate of chicken teriyaki that costs £11 at Bamboo Mat would set you back £17.75 at Chotto Matte in Soho – although this is still definitely a “special occasions” restaurant for most people.

Last month, the Echo was treated to a meal for two worth £83, plus drinks, in their restaurant just opposite Leyton Midland Station. The meal started on a high with the starters, hamachi tiradito and sea bass ceviche, both classic Peruvian dishes. The tiradito, possibly the highlight of the whole night, used a lovely, fresh yellowtail and the perfect balance of citrus and soy. Those used to a more simplistic ceviche might find the inclusion of mango in Bamboo Mat’s version surprising but it was just as delicate and refreshing.

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After these dainty but delicious starters, it was nice to receive decently-sized portions of the aforementioned chicken teriyaki and the lamb chops. The lamb in particular was tender and cooked in a salt crust, with a gorgeous acidic sauce. This was followed by salmon aburi nigiri, meaning the sushi was seared with a blowtorch at the table, and spicy tuna maki.

Eating this last dish, where the spicy sauce never overpowered the bluefin’s flavour, it’s easy to understand why they were prepared to travel to South London at the crack of dawn for the right ingredients as the fish is the star of the show every time.

Bamboo Mat only offers one dessert, a passion fruit and raspberry cheesecake that I likely would have given a miss if ordering for myself, which would have been a terrible mistake. Like most of the night’s dishes, it was the perfect balance of sweet and zesty and a sublime end to the meal. During the meal, I also enjoyed a classic Peruvian cocktail, the pisco sour, although for non-drinkers there was also an actually nice non-alcoholic option, something of a rarity, in the form of a raspberry mojito.

All in all, Bamboo Mat has a strong claim to being the best up-market restaurant in Waltham Forest, in a somewhat unlikely setting. On the evening the Echo visited, the waiter had to unlock the door every time a customer wanted to come inside; it was broken after a recent attempted break-in.

Find Bamboo Mat at 625 Leyton High Street or find out more on their website:

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