Welcome to The London Foodie

Reviews of London's Restaurants, Supper Clubs and Hotels, Wine Tastings, Travel Writing, and Home to the Japanese and French Supper Clubs in Islington

For the latest food events, restaurant openings, product launches and other food and drink related news, visit the sister site The London Foodie News

Monday 29 October 2018

Chino Latino's Great Value Day of the Dead Tasting Menu

Where:  Park Plaza Riverbank, 18 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TJ

Cost: The special Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) menu for Friday 2nd November 2018 is a four course tasting menu with a Mexican theme, and is priced at £45 per person, for a minimum of 2 people. 

About: Describing itself as a modern pan-Asian cuisine and Latin bar, Chino Latino London is set on the first floor of the Park Plaza Hotel on the South Bank at Waterloo, with a gorgeous view of the Houses of Parliament across the river.

With live jazz from 8pm, a cocktail bar with a strong Latin theme, this is not your typical Asian restaurant. The menu has a range of Japanese-Nikkei dishes from Peru and Brazil, as well as Chinese, Thai and Malaysian specials.

I have been here a couple of times before, you can read my reviews here and here. This latest trip, however, was to try the one-off Mexican-themed dinner for the Day of the Dead.

What We Ate: The Dia De Los Muertos menu kicks off with Jalapeno Maki Rolls. Topped with a "Mexican hat" made from sliced tomato, green Jalapeno chilli and an orange creamy spicy sauce, the maki was filled with avocado, carrot and truffle aioli, and the rice mixed with quinoa. The chilli was not overpowering, but gave a gentle heat to the maki.

The  Lobster Taquitos with aji amarillo, avocado and lime were creamy, crunchy and lightly spicy.

The Ceviche Mixto, with ultra-tender calamari, shrimps, seabass and avocado was creamy and generous, with red onion, radish and cancha corn, but for me lacked acidity and zinginess from much needed chilli and lime. I mentioned this in my last review, it is a pity that their ceviche is rather toned down.

Next came empanadas of red snapper, with mango, Gruyere cheese, and a refreshing tomato and onion salsa. These were very good, especially with the accompanying salsa, although I could not detect the Gruyere.

The bacon-wrapped dates with linguica (Portuguese for sausage) and mustard mayonnaise were one of the highlights of the meal - rich, very soft, with sweet and savoury nicely balanced.

The main course was another highlight - an exceptional Latin BBQ - Churrasco Grande, with beef skewers, chorizo, spicy chicken and sirloin steak. Served on a bed of smoulderingly hot rocks, the meats were nicely chargrilled but tender, the beef medium rare, and the accompanying sauces were well judged.

To accompany the meat, we were served a tamale. This was creamy, intensely flavoured with sweetcorn and artichoke, and topped with a delicious Huancaina sauce, a classic Peruvian sauce made from evaporated milk, fresh white cheese, aji amarillo and powdered cheese crackers.

The dessert was Passionfruit Flavoured Relic - a creamy mousse "skull" set over crumble and edible flowers. This was a beautifully presented dessert - light, and with a refreshing acidity from the passionfruit.

What We Drank: Served as part of the Dia De Los Muertos menu, a "Waking the Dead" shot of Mezcal infused with lime, coriander and chilli was refreshing and left the palate tingling with refreshing citrus, spice and heat - an excellent palate cleanser and teaser for the dishes that followed. 

Likes: Highlights for me were the bacon-wrapped dates, the tamales and the churrasco main course. The live music was well judged - not intrusive but definitely adding to the experience. 

Dislikes: I could have done with a 2nd tamale to accompany the main course as there were two of us. 

Verdict: For one night only (2nd November 2018), the Dia De Los Muertos menu at Chino Latino is a delicious blend of Japanese, Mexican and Peruvian flavours, which at £45 per person is excellent value. Highly recommended.   

Saturday 6 October 2018

La Mia Mamma – Italian Regional Cuisines Cooked by a Local Mamma!

Name: La Mia Mamma

Where: 257 Kings Road, London, SW3 5EL, https://www.lamiamamma.co.uk/

Cost: The Mama's Menu, for a minimum of 2 people, is available in three possible combinations: antipasti to share and pasta for £28 per person; antipasti to share and a main for £33; while for those with gargantuan appetites, the antipasti to share, pasta and main course costs £38 per person.  All three menus include an Aperol Spritz, a dessert and an espresso coffee.

About: Opened as recently as June 2018, La Mia Mamma on buzzing Kings Road presents an unusual concept of food cooked by an Italian Mamma (mother) from one of 20 regions of the country.  At the time we were there, this was the Sicilian Maria Concetta. The aim is to offer genuine home cooking as you might eat in the Mamma's house. Each Mamma is flown in for a residency of three months, and other regions planned in the near future include Puglia, Campania and Calabria.  Pasta is freshly made on the premises every day.

For those who do not want to try the regional Mamma's menu, the a la carte menu has a selection of national dishes to choose from, though the menu is reassuringly short.

What We Ate: We opted for the antipasti and pasta menu at £28 per person, including an Aperol Spritz, dessert and espresso coffee. The meal started with a generous selection of antipasti, chosen by Maria.  I was expecting a few slices of Parma ham, cheese and olives, but what arrived was much more interesting and varied.

There was a board with 3 types of vegetable antipasti: Sicilian caponata (grilled aubergine) with stracciatella (the cheese from the heart of the burrata); peperonata (simmered peppers) with onions and olives and fried courgette escabeche, with mint, garlic, vinegar and oil; ricotta cheese with crumbled pistachio and balsamic glaze.

The panzerotti, like small fried calzone, were filled with ricotta cheese, ham and tomato sauce. They were clearly freshly made, authentic and delectable. 

A round platter with four other antipasti included the gateau di patate (a little potato cake) with mozzarella and cooked ham; aubergine frittata; a large arancini rice ball filled with spinach and cheese. Best of all was the meatloaf with chunky shreds of meat covered in melting mozzarella cheese. They were all well seasoned and rich.

We also had a couple of fried pizzette topped with ricotta cheese, tomato and basil.

The antipasti were a meal in themselves I thought, although to my palate they were a tad too substantial and carb heavy (and I eat a lot). I enjoyed them, and what they lacked in sophistication they more than made up in flavour and generosity.

For our pasta dishes, we had the Pasta Nasciata del Detective Montalbano - oven-baked rigatoni with beef Bolognese sauce, cooked ham, boiled eggs, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  This was the fictional detective Inspector Montalbano's favourite pasta dish, and was rich and delicious, rather like a good home-made lasagna.

The other pasta was Pesto di Pistacchi and Ricotta. A quintessential Sicilian dish with home-made pistachio pesto, and Busiate pasta (a long twisted macaroni-shaped pasta from Sicily), this was creamy but to my palate lacked seasoning.

For dessert, we had the Tiramisu al Pistacchio. This was absurdly good, with the magnificently flavoursome caramelised Pistacchio Verde di Bronte DOP from Sicily, a layer of pistachio cream over a base of whipped sweet mascarpone, topped with caramelised pistachios.

The Cannolo Scomposto is the restaurant's deconstructed take on the popular Sicilian dessert, and in this version, rather than being in tubular form, there were layers of crisp pastry dough, covered in a sweet creamy ricotta and crumbled pistachios. This was light, crunchy and delectable.

What We Drank: There are 6 cocktails all priced at £9.50, with a selection of wines by the glass (125ml), ranging from £5.95 to £11.

The Aperol Spritz was well made and refreshing.  With my meal, I had a glass of Primitivo (£6.75) - robust, full bodied and with smooth tannins. The espresso was strong, rich and authentically Italian.

Likes: The baked rigatoni with Bolognese sauce was wonderful, but the stars of the meal were the two desserts. These can be ordered separately at £5.50 each. Excellent value set menus, friendly and well-informed waiting staff. 

Dislikes: I loved the antipasti but was full after eating them. The portion was commendably generous but carb-heavy (perhaps less pastry?). 

Verdict: For an authentic experience of Italian regional home cooking, La Mia Mamma is the real deal. I look forward to learning more about other regions of Italy over the coming months there. Recommended.

Related Posts with Thumbnails