Boasting outposts in Leeds, Nottingham, and here in London, the award-winning Chino Latino beckons with its blend of South American and Asian flavours. In the capital, the restaurant occupies a lofty setting just south of the river at the Park Plaza London Riverbank hotel, with 180-degree panoramic views of the Thames and Houses of Parliament.
From the moment I entered the hotel, the impeccable service began, as I was politely directed to an escalator that led to the restaurant (escalator in a hotel – new to me!). As I entered the low-lit Chino Latino, I noticed hypnotic projections dominated two screens on opposing ends of the room, popular music played in the background (with a piano for live music too), and there was a rather welcoming vibe. The staff provided recommendations, funny anecdotes, and even compliments.
The food at Chino Latino
Chino Latino offers a range of set menus and a la carte options that span lunch, dinner, and bottomless brunch – suitable for whenever hunger strikes. A blend of flavours from Peru, Japan, and China make up these dishes; there’s wide ranging choice of sushi, dim sum, taquitos, and skewers, plus indulgent desserts. The team at Chino Latino level up the experience even further by adding theatrical flair to some dishes, for example the Flaming Sushi, which as the name suggests, is set alight at the table; or the Wagyu Beef Ishiyaki, which is served on a hot, still sizzling Himalayan salt block.
On my visit, I dined on the Rengin menu; this comprised two courses of three small plates each; two larger plates, served with rice; and a hefty dessert platter. Arguably, it was the best way to get a taste of Chino Latino’s flavours – plus diners can opt to add on any stand-alone dishes too.
There were a few standout dishes for me. The first was the duck and watermelon salad: it was sweet, and the opposing textures of the crispy duck and soft watermelon made for a perfect match. I particularly loved the black cod, with its subtle spice; I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed fish so soft in my life. One of my chosen additions to the menu, the beef tacquitos, are highly recommended too; not only was the presentation pretty showstopping (like savoury mini ice creams displayed in a spiral), but the well-seasoned, soft meat, with the onion and guac, was really satisfying.
Other notable dishes included the blowtorched salmon sushi, with its deliciously smokey flavour; and the absolutely huge, fresh prawns, wrapped in a shiso leaf, and encased in a nice light batter. I changed my mind about the prawn tiger roll throughout the meal: initially, I found the sauce a little too creamy, but dipped in the soy sauce, it struck a great balance.
The dessert platter on Chino Latino’s Rengin menu needs to be in an art gallery. It was beautiful. The platter serves a selection of the a la carte menu’s picture-perfect desserts, including the matcha fondant and cheesecake. But honestly? I loved the most simple of the desserts the best: nutella in the end of an ice cream cone – like the end of a Cornetto, but perhaps even better.
The drinks at Chino Latino
While the food combines flavours of Peru, China, and Japan, the cocktail menu specifically champions the vibrant South American influence. I had a seriously hard choice ahead of me, as I could have enjoyed any and all of the cocktails on their list. My favourite spirits are rum and tequila, and both featured heavily on the menu. Eventually, I settled on the Los Muertos, as it is not often you see the Jamaican Wray and Nephew rum in cocktails – it was sweet and satisfying – and the Latino Picante, which was drier, stronger, and a touch fiery.
Alternatively, if cocktails aren’t your thing, then you’ll be pleased to hear that alongside wine and soft drinks, Chino Latino offers an extensive selection of sake too. Each has a brief description and pairing suggestion, so you can get an authentic sushi-sake experience.
Overall, Chino Latino is a great spot for a romantic date night; the food is good, the views are lovely, and the staff will make the experience even better.