Hotel restaurants and bars have a certain appeal to them – a sense of exoticism, escapism, and aloofness that can only be captured in the closed off dining rooms of the transient spaces of international hotels. Personally, I love them; the best hotels of London, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, and all the other brilliant international cities, tend to have iconic restaurants. Excessive and indulgent, these spaces give a sense of being far away yet remain redolent of all our home comforts (namely, either French or Pan-Asian cuisine, good espresso martinis, and ornate décor).
On the banks of the River Thames, just across the river from Westminster and a stones throw from Pimlico, lies such a destination in the form of the lavish 5-star Park Plaza and its impressive expanse of an opulent, river-view restaurant, Chino Latino. Past the fire heaters and outdoor seating, through the dark, luxe lobby of the hotel, and up an extravagantly lit escalator redolent of Dubai, located on the first floor is Chino Latino – a restaurant and bar of East-meets-West dining overlooking the river.
Chino Latino, is headed up by Werner Seebach, the hotel’s newest innovative culinary guru, who brings a menu of fresh sushi and seafood with a Peruvian twist: think, black cod with miso followed by lobster tacos, or Chilean sea bass with black beans followed by lobster tempura. With its seemingly endless stream of prestigious awards, Chino Latino is renowned for its Pan-Asian cuisine with a Latin twist in Leeds and Nottingham, as well as Germany, and thus its arrival to London has been very welcome.
The interior is that of a lounge bar turned high end restaurant, with a long Peruvian bar on one end, large, circular sofas and tables for cocktails across the centre, and the far end featuring dining tables that overlook the stunning river side view onto the Houses of Parliament and Millbank. Its spacious, dark, night-club like ambience, gives it that distinct sense of premium expat dining, yet this is punctuated pleasantly by the glorious daylight of the wide view onto Thames, reminding us all that we are here in London, rather than Hong Kong or Dubai.
We began with two cocktails at the Peruvian bar, which features an extensive range of Peruvian cocktails arranged by spirit, and where one can get bar snacks (sushi, dim sum, sandwiches, burgers, and sharing platters – as well as, in true hotel style, afternoon tea). Enjoying a twist on the classic Aperol spritz, made this time with glace cherries, we soon moved to our table by the lavish windows to begin our dinner.
The menu is extensive and offers a range of small dishes in the form of dim sum, raw dishes, sashimi, sushi, tempura, but also taquitos, tiradito, anticucho, and other Peruvian dishes. The mains are of the traditional Pan-Asian dishes (curries, steaks, miso sea bass, black cod etc), and there are three forms of tasting menu that showcase all three.
We started with the typical edamame beans, before enjoying a pre-starter of two lobster tacquitos which came with mango, aji Amarillo, avocado, red onion, and topped with crispy seaweed. Served in tiny triangular cones of deliciousness, with a slice of lime to add some zest to the lobster richness, these were excellent for wetting the appetite.
For the actual dinner, we went for the £55 per person ‘Menzaifu Chino Set Menu’. This is a four course set menu, that comes out in apt waves of cuisine – starting with a first course of sushi and sashimi salads, then a second course of small dishes, and a third course of two mains, followed by desserts.
The sushi and sashimi we had consisted of delicious Tiger maki roll, of prawns, crab, takuwan, with sesame beetroot yogurt dressing – which was excellent – and a beautiful platter of fresh sashimi. Both were delicious and on par with expectations of sushi in a premium hotel restaurant.
The small dishes we had were equally delightful, consisting of lovely crispy vegetarian gyoza, wagyu beef skewers (these were oozing in delicious sauce and just wonderful), chicken foie gras sui mai (little dumplings of foie gras, shitake mushrooms and teriyaki sauce), and a chicken salad with coriander, mint, chilli, shallots, cucumber and red onion. All were excellent.
By the time we were on the mains, live latin music had begun to play in the background of the restaurant, adding a brilliant layer of entertainment to our meal. The two mains we chose were the lobster tempura and monkfish tail, though one could also try the beef short ribs or thai chicken. The monkfish tail was beautifully presented and simple, roasted in its own juices with a lovely Asian dipping sauce, whilst the lobster tempura was of the pop-corn style with more dipping sauces and presented impressively in a shell. To enjoy on the side, also had the Miso aubergine, a half roasted aubergine in miso baked with melted parmesan cheese on top, and the steamed bok choi in sweet soy and sesame sauce. One really doesn’t need sides with the tasting menu but we were keen to try the vegetables, given the emphasis on fish and meat with the set menu.
For dessert, we had the coconut and date cheesecake which despite being wheat / gluten / dairy free (!) was fantastically rich and creamy, and the salted caramel banana mousse with green tea ice cream. The banana dish was our favourite, exceptional in its salty richness which the fruitiness of the banana complemented wonderfully.
To drink throughout this meal, we had the Mirabeau Rose from Provence, France, as a fruity and viscous, yet acidic and balanced rose wine to stand up well to the richness of the seafood and aromatic seasoning.
All in all, the service, food, décor, and ambience were excellent and we would both highly recommend Chino Latino for an escapist, expat meal in a 5-star hotel on the banks of the River Thames. Just brilliant. Do try!
Chino Latino Bar and Restaurant
Park Plaza Riverbank
18 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7TJ