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Chino Latino, the pan-asian fusion cuisine restaurant with venues in Leeds and Nottingham has its London space in the Park Plaza hotel on London’s riverbank. We at Vada pop in on a Thursday evening in August to find out the vibe.
Chino Latino is located on the south bank of London in the Park Plaza hotel about halfway between Vauxhall and Waterloo stations. It’s first-floor location offers views across the Thames towards Tate Britain and Milbank.
The space is entered by going up escalators one floor from the Park Plaza lobby – you can’t miss the signage for the restaurant as there is an entire LED wall lit up with its name. Though the hotel has missed a trick by this being a mini-escalator rather than a statement staircase – there is already a lift nearby for accessibility. So the entrance vibe feels closer to entering a shopping centre rather than a unique space.
The first-floor space itself does not appear to have been purpose-designed for a restaurant as has projectors and lighting all rigged up to the roof, suggesting this was (or could still be on special occasions) used as an entertainment space. Chino Latino have done what they can to mitigate this, breaking the restaurant into zones – comfortable seating, a bar area, and more formal dining tables towards the floor-to-ceiling windows, and using dark and warming tones and wood furniture.
On our visit, we were offered the Taste of Chino tasting menu (priced at £48 per person), which in August, consisted of the following 5 sharing plates, plus an option of one of three main courses for 2 – we we opted for the Prime Beef Short Rib. All starter sharing plates arrived within a couple of minutes of each other.
- Flaming salmon – this did arrive flaming, and was a flamboyant and fun start to a meal.
- Duck salad – this didn’t appear particularly inventive, but the lambs lettuce, and pomegranate seeds added colour to the table.
- Prawns wrapped in shiso leaf – we enjoyed the fun presentation and the delicious outer crunch contrasting with the soft seafood flesh inside.
- Chicken sui mai – a quaint dumpling-like morsel, where we could easily eat many more without realising.
- Skewer combo – a fun presentation on a mini grill, a pair of plank steak and another pair of chicken in honey and Korean marinade.
The main course, Prime Beef Short Rib, was a lot of meat after tearing it all off the bone. This was moreish but we only had so much room left after the starters.
For dessert, we shared a chocolate matcha fondant served with vanilla ice-cream. The impressive melting matcha middle poured out as we cut into the dessert. This was well balanced without being overly sweet.
To drink, we had a couple of cocktails, a Purple Parade – non-alcoholic, made with blackberries, coconut, lavender, and guava (£13), which was a refreshing summer fruit drink. We also tried a Pink Dragon – made with tequila, peach puree, lychee liqueur, and dragon fruit (£15). It appeared the intent was for this to be a similar texture to a peach bellini, but too much puree meant the drink tended to clump together, so was less effective.
Staff were friendly and helpful, albeit we did feel like there was a long wait between starter and main course.
The new Taste of Chino tasting menu offers a lot of value (quantity) for its price point, we left very full. We found it a mix of overwhelming and underwhelming plates, but others may have opposite opinions of ours.
The cocktail flavours matched the pan-asian theme, but we fund fruit-based cocktails always come across as cheap, and its very difficult to elevate them when filled with pulped fruit. If Chino Latino could find ways to infuse these flavours into liqueur-based cocktails, this would take them to the next level.
Given the location, the venue would suit visitors to London staying in the hotel or nearby on the south bank – a starting point for night out in Vauxhall perhaps.
Chino Latino is located on the first floor of Park Plaza London Riverbank, 18 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TJ.
For more information or to book, visit chinolatino.co.uk.