A brilliant view, a luxury location, tasty food and even a bit of live music as well.
The Albert Embankment isn’t the most picturesque part of London, despite being next to the Thames. It was built for practical purposes back in 1868 and, like so much of London just the other side of the river, it remained unloved and largely industrial up until relatively recently.
Then people spotted it was just two tube stops from Oxford Circus, that the Houses of Parliament and the The London Eye were a short-ish walk away, and it was ideal for business and tourist hotels because where else in London was so centrally located yet offering such space for new builds?
One result was the Park Plaza Hotel, built in 2005, and at the time the largest new-build hotel project in the capital. You can appreciate it best from the north bank of the Thames, and what stands out is the large glass ‘box’ that cantilevers out over the road below. It’s here that you’ll find Chino Latino.
The approach up from street level is stylish, moody and cool, but it’s only when you emerge out into the ‘box’ that you get the real ‘wow’ factor with its wash of natural light and superb view. We sit back and enjoy it with cocktails from the bar.
The menu is familiar in a Nobu way. Here too, they blend in Peruvian touches and it’s been an award- winning formula at the Chino Latinos in London, Nottingham and Leeds for ten years or more.
It’s a large menu, too much for us to take in while enjoying the view (and tonight also some live music) so we happily go for the set menu to share and be surprised by.
Duck and watermelon salad is a cheerful, colourful tangle of pea shoots and micro salad leaves piled high over a base of crispish duck, which is shredded in the way of classic Chinese duck and pancake. Some pomegranate seeds, and a spiky dressing of lime, mustard and maple syrup, all add to the flavour fun, and we chase the duck about with clashing chopsticks.
Make mine Tiger Maki every time; I love rolls of sushi rice and filling and when drizzled with beetroot yoghurt dressing they are even better. Substantial bites of prawns, crab, takuwan, sesame and rice and easy to eat, these hit all my buttons. I could eat them all night
One kitchen gadget I’ve never bought is a blowtorch, thinking I don’t eat that many creme brulees, but I really must get one. That fast, hard and searing flame is very useful for other foods and here they’ve given salmon a lick of fierce heat and dressed it in grapefruit miso and pickled cucumber.It’s almost a one bite and gone dish, but it’s a good bite that leaves a smoky memory left on the palate.
Dishes then arrive in a group and we make short work of fried calamari, deep-fried prawns, and some Vegetable gyoza. These last are a buzzy mix of aubergine, ginger, garlic and black vinegar – top tip: never put a whole gyoza in your mouth without checking how hot the interior is.
Recovering from that slight singeing I love the crispy prawns and their sharp ponzu sauce and the squid is easy to eat, small pieces in tamarind dressing with tomato, red onion and mint. All that’s missing is a sunny beach to eat it on,
A short pause to tap toes to the music, and it’s the main event.
Black Cod is of course the most famous dish of Japanese-Peruvian-American chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The high oil content Sablefish is marinated in sweet miso before being quickly grilled. The fish is also called Butterfish and it’s easy to see why as the flesh falls in buttery chunks and it’s as delicious as a slice of cold butter raided from the fridge at 2 a.m. Or is that just me? Excellent stuff, but I would have liked a bit more miso, and a bit more charring.
Our Casterbridge sirloin steak came still briskly steaming on hot stones, a visual treat and not bad steak at all. We asked for medium rare, and it came a bit more on the medium side and it was still cooking even as we ate it. Very good meat, tender but still with bite to release flavour. A soy, mirin and garlic dipping sauce was ideal. Sticky rice helped with both mains.
The dessert platter was very pretty. Some chocolate fondant, vanilla ice cream, a mocha dish. I don’t really like desserts all that much, but this was more interesting than most. We called it a day, along with the band who had left the stage,
More people should make the walk to Chino Latino as the food’s very good and reasonably priced, and the restaurant space is impressive and pampering. The menu is wide ranging with, as they say, something for everyone and the set menu a good deal.
Time to learn some Latin
Right now you can do even better with the ‘Taste of Chino’ menu for £24pp / £48 for two and you can find more details here
Park Plaza Riverbank, 18 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TJ