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Monday, 9 December 2013

Chino Latino - The Cure for the New Year’s Eve Set Menu Blues

Words & Photography by Greg Klerkx and Luiz Hara

Where: Park Plaza Riverbank London, 18 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TJ, http://www.chinolatino.eu/london

Cost: £79 per person for 10 courses (service and drinks not included). 

About: A preview of Chino Latino's New Year's Eve 

Dining out on New Year’s Eve can be a dicey affair: too often, one is stuck with an overhyped prix fixe that invariably underwhelms, not the greatest beginning to anyone’s new year. If you’ve had this disheartening experience, this New Year’s Eve take your festive self to Chino Latino at the Park Plaza Riverbank London for a wonderful exception to this dismal rule: a marvellous NYE menu that is astounding value in terms of price and quality.

As its name implies, Chino Latino specialises in Pan-Asian food with hints of Latin verve. There are multiple locations in the UK and elsewhere, many ensconced in modern hotels like the Park Plaza Riverbank, which is located on the Albert Embankment near Vauxhall Station and within eyeshot of the Houses of Parliament and nearby landmarks. Inside the hotel, Chino Latino inhabits a sleek, gently lit space adjacent to the lively main lounge.

To celebrate 10 years of Chino Latino, Head Chef Werner Seebach has created a 10-course NYE tasting menu (£79 per person) offering a retrospective of the restaurant’s favourite dishes and new plates inspired by Peruvian, Mexican and Japanese cuisine. The menu, served sharing-style, is arranged in four themes: Small Dishes, Next Course, Main Dishes, and Dessert.

The New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu is available for booking between 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Once you’ve enjoyed the food, you can slip over to the mod-chic lounge for a DJ-driven celebration that promises to last until well into the wee hours of New Year’s Day.

What We Ate: We began with the Small Dishes, two-thirds of which were delightful. A trio of mouthful-sized beetroot stacks with yuzu cream cheese and a port reduction were light, refreshing and immaculately presented.

The Tenkasu roll – tuna, salmon, sea bass and avocado – was sublime, elevated by the addition of crunchy tempura crumbs and just the right amount of spicy miso chilli dressing. 

Alas, the Kampachi sashimi, though beautifully served on a translucent Himalayan salt block with sprigs of samphire and crispy discs of garlic, fell victim to a bit too much ‘Latino’. Kampachi, harvested from deep off the coast of Hawaii, has a very delicate, almost floral flavour but here it was quite swamped by the muscular red pepper rocoto dressing. Individually, the sashimi and dressing were lovely examples of their respective forms; they just didn’t quite work when put together.

The trio of Next Course dishes began with marinated blowtorched salmon, which was smoky and smooth, and the next two dishes were even better.

Grilled scallops were perfectly cooked, the natural sweetness of the scallop heightened by a sprinkling of crushed wasabi peas and a dollop of yuzu aioli (yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit, like a slightly sour mandarin orange: it’s a key ingredient in yuzu-pon).

The Wagyu beef taquitos brought a smile to our faces even before we’d tasted them: the taquitos were presented in a kind of filigreed trellis and served like so many tiny ice cream cones. They tasted as good as they looked: each cone was a savoury blast of succulent beef, jalapeno, red onion and aji panca, a smokey and almost fruity Peruvian pepper.

The Main Dishes continued the wonderful form. This was our first taste of chipotle miso – chipotle with white miso, mirin, sake, and sugar – and it was a revelation, particularly as paired here with a gorgeous, moist filet of Chilean sea bass.

A plateful of succulent lamb cutlets, marinated in Korean hot pepper paste and served with wasabi cream, disappeared in moments.

As we polished off the final morsels of lamb cutlet we were distracted by a wonderful aroma, emanating from a dish served several tables away. This turned out to be English sirloin steak on hot rocks, soya, mirin, garlic, 180g/300g £18.00/£29.00. Though not on the NYE menu, a plate was ordered and proved to be a real highlight: thinly sliced sirloin cooked teppanyaki style but on hot rocks, both clever and creative, not to mention absolutely delicious.

What We Drank: Chino Latino New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu does not have suggested wine pairings but the restaurant’s modest but effective wine list provided plenty of choice. With the Small Dishes and Next Courses, we stayed happily with the Sancerre La Fuzelle, Adrien Marechal (£35 bottle/£8.50 glass), lively with citrus and gooseberry and very sympathetic to both Asian and Latin American flavours. Just ahead of the beef taquitos we moved to a Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, £29.50 bottle/£8.00 glass), smooth, rich with dark berries and chewy liquorice. This stood us in good stead until the cutlets and sirloin, at which point we switched to the earthier Luis Felipe Edwards Lot 37 Pinot Noir (Chile, £24.50 bottle/£8.00 glass).

Likes: On the NYE menu, the scallops and seabass were divine; but come another time for the hot-rock English sirloin from the main menu (or order it on NYE if you’re ferociously hungry)

Dislikes: The desserts on the tasting menu – passion fruit cheesecake and moshi ice cream – were a bit misjudged, and a disappointment after what was otherwise a fabulous meal.

Verdict: The 10-course New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu is marvellous value for money; lovely food in a relaxed atmosphere, with attentive and knowledgeable service. Highly recommended.


  1. If I didn't already have NY eve plans I'd be all over this! The menu & food looks amazing!!

  2. OMG - I want to go there for NY Eve! But sadly I have my own dinner that night. What a great name too! Oh... so tempted!

  3. My boyf and I are going to this on NYE! Chose the Thames suite option (so a little pricey-er, but it is our 10th anniversary) Never been before, so hoping for great things! :)

  4. Wow. I dined here a la carte on a weeknight in April 2013 and it was ghastly! This seems like it is a different restaurant. Wonder if it's a different chef.


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