Don’t be deterred by the nightclub-like wall of flashing neon lights that greet you ascending the escalator at the Riverbank Park Plaza – the vista of the Thames that swings into view as you enter Chino Latino is far more reassuring for a hotel dining experience, as too the huge glass windows that flood the clean-cut, modern space with light.
Chino Latino, as the name suggests, is a fusion of Asian and Latin American food, though we found the emphasis very much on the Chino. The Rengin tasting menu is a good place for first-timers to start. Beautifully presented Amarillo maki rolls are followed by salmon sashimi with a fresh and tangy jalapeño dressing, and beef taquitos served in cone-shaped shells.
Dishes come as and when they are ready, but sometimes with long gaps in-between – surprising given that we were practically the only customers in the dining room, which also doubles as a lounge for hotel guests.
When it did arrive, a main course of Chilean sea bass was worth the wait, flaky and tender with a hint of spice and sweetness that balanced the dish perfectly. Sirloin steak served sizzling on hot rocks was less impressive; although the presentation was spectacular to watch, the theatrical cooking method overcooked the meat, rendering it chewy and tough.
Desserts included a banana mousse served with coconut foam, sorbets and fruit giving the meal a sweet and fresh end, just as it began. Overall, we’d recommend the Asian dishes over the south American, while seasonal menus are also worth a look. Early summer might bring an asparagus menu including experimental flavour combinations such as asparagus ice-cream and asparagus wrapped in kataifi pastry with a vinaigrette-like acidic wafu dressing.
Knowledgeable staff, well-chosen set menus and an extensive selection of cocktails also add to the appeal of a restaurant on a stretch of south London riverside not blessed with many places to eat.