Chino Latino, 18 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TJ www.chinolatino.eu/london
Pickles and fermented foods have been at the heart of Asian cooking for centuries and are set to be a key trend for 2018.
To celebrate this much-loved food group, Chino Latino, Pan Asian restaurant and Latin bar, has launched a five-course Asian Pickle menu, putting pickles at the heart of every dish.
The first course is now my favourite way of eating edamame beans Ã¢â‚¬â€œ coated in thick, almost gelatinous fermented black bean sauce. It was addictive Ã¢â‚¬â€œ slightly sweet and slightly salty. There’s also something very satisfying about eating edamame beans as you have to pop them out of their shells. A great way to start the meal.
Next arrived a beautiful row of miso marinated pork belly and kimchi maki roll. They were wonderfully rolled so you could see each of the ingredients, with a great ratio of filling to rice. The pork belly inside was soft and succulent, and the kimchi gave it a nice sharpness that cut through the fatty texture.
A very pretty plate of cured seared salmon appeared next, with a fresh and fragrant green mango salad, garnished with little soft-boiled quails’ eggs. The salmon was just how I like it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ still translucent in the middle Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and there were little caviar-style salty balls that popped in your mouth in the most entertaining way. The crisp salmon skin that topped the whole dish had a great crunch and was a little bit like fishy crackling.
The rib-eye bulgogi with pickled eryngi mushroom Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it states mushrooms on the menu but our dish definitely only had one Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was slightly disappointing in comparison to everything that had come before. If you look at pictures of this dish taken by the restaurant, you will see perfectly pink rib-eye beef that looks moist and inviting.
Ours sadly was over cooked and had a bit more of a grey pallor about it, and the sauce was a bland, creamy nothingness. However, you could definitely taste the sharpness of the pickled mushroom which did bring a certain vibrancy to the plate, but not enough to save this particular course.
The dessert was one of the most delicate things I have ever been presented. An absolutely stunning apple mousse appeared which had been created to look exactly like an apple, with a crisp, textured shell and even a chocolate stalk.
However, it was sadly a case of style over substance, as the apple mousse had no flavour what-so-ever. Even the Earl Grey dates that sat nestled in the centre failed to give it a much-needed flavour injection.
The granola that it was adorned with again had no real flavour, but the pickled carrots were a nice bite and the lemon gel had a fantastically sour and tart flavour that I wanted more of. A real shame, as this could have been a wonderful dish.
Chino Latino has floor to ceiling views of the Thames and the Houses of Parliament, which at night is a great backdrop for dinner.
The Asian Pickle menu had a fantastic start and great potential, but a few elements at the end of the meal which could be fixed with more attention to detail meant it peaked in the middle. It was certainly, however, a lesson in how versatile pickles can be.
The Asian Pickle Menu is available until the end of March, £37 per person, minimum of two diners per menu.