Despite its name, the Latin influences on Chino Latino are hard to detect – perhaps they’ve all been poured into the super-strength mojitos.
A meal begins with a few showy flourishes: a tablet turns into a hot towel with a splash of water (‘ooh!’), and cocktails are garnished with chillies (‘ahh!’). Customers are an arbitrary mix of tourists, work colleagues, families and romancing couples, which makes for good people-watching but doesn’t bring much atmosphere.
However, the pan-Asian sharing menu is consistently delicious. The likes of soft-shell crab tempura, perfectly light and crisp, are presented imaginatively too. Dumplings were another highlight, stuffed with tender crayfish and Chilean sea bass. Grilled scallops arrived dressed with yuzu aïoli and a dusting of wasabi pea, and popcorn crackling made a great addition to the pork belly. Desserts (passionfruit cheesecake with blow-torched marshmallow, say) were equally good.
Sadly, though, the setting doesn’t do the food justice. The clubby decor, with its slick black leather and backlit screen, would have been stylish a decade ago, and it’s hard to escape the starchy hotel surroundings. Service on our visit was brisk and formal, at times verging on rude, which made us reluctant to linger over the lovely food.