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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.   

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