Friday, 21 October 2011

Chino Latino Xmas Launch Night

This week out of the blue, Joe had a phone call from the Park Plaza hotel in Leeds inviting him to the launch of the Chino Latino Christmas menus. He was able to bring along some people so I was lucky to make the list, along with Hunter Pig, Mike Work, Soraya, James Work and some more!

Chino Latino has been open for a while, and we have been planning to visit as we've been told it does great sushi. Being honest, I've always been a bit put off by the outside which could do with some TLC, but appearances can be deceiving; if you get past the unassuming front door and up the stairs, the restaurant and bar is a pleasant surprise.

It's quite glitzy, with black furnishings, low lighting and clean lines. There is a good sized bar area with views over City Square and the area nearby. We were offered drinks on our arrival and made the most of the cocktail menu which boasts some unusual options. Joe made the brave move of letting me pick his, and so he ended up with a Mushi a Gari (gin with black pepper, chillis, mango and apple juice), I had a Raspberry Mint Margherita and Hunter Pig a Passionate Turkey (insert your own joke here: ). Consensus was that they were really very impressive, but my Raspberry Mint Margherita topped the list. We also sampled a Buena Vista and a Latino Mule - all top choices!

The cocktails
After the drinks, we moved to the restaurant area which continues the theme from the bar. We were sat next to the open kitchen which gave us a brilliant view of the chefs preparing all the food.
Us at dinner
Chino Latino specialise in flavours of China, South East Asia and Japan. The menu is quite varied, as is the Christmas menu which we sampled. They focus on sharing dishes which makes for some very impressive presentation.

The first course was based on sushi and we had lobster rolls, venison tartar, roast pear and crispy fried tofu. They were all brilliant but the surprise winner was the pear - it was smooth, smoky, and perfectly balanced with the sake cream. Yum. I have also never had tofu before, and quite liked this one too - it came with a fabulous sauce and was really different.

Pear with sake cream
The venison tartar and lobster rolls.

The open kitchen
The red wine - which they gave us a lot of - and white too!

Deep fried tofu with the yummy sauce - I would recommend giving this a go!
Following the first course we had a sneaky spicy tomato and basil shot - which tasted very much like a Bloody Mary (sans the vodka) - a worthwhile interval.

The tomato and sweet basil sauce
Next up were the main courses. We were treated to slow roasted pork belly with amazing crackling (probably the best I have ever had) and vegetables, roasted duck breast with plum sauce, miso marinaded cod and tofu in cabbage. The pork belly was lovely, as was the cod. Unfortunately our duck was over slightly cooked (although others were cooked perfectly), but still tasted nice. No one on our table was not a fan of the tofu in cabbage - it may be more of an acquired taste, but when everything else was so good, I'm not going to dwell on it!
Sticky, slow roasted pork belly with honey hoi san sauce and the fab crackling
The pork belly close up - you can tell this was Joe's favourite dish!
The roasted duck with duck leg plum sauce
Miso marinaded cod, which was probably my favourite
AND AFTER ALL THAT...we had desserts! And since it's Christmas, they put even more effort into the presentation of this course. Check out the video below for the fun!

Desserts were a large plate for more sharing, including three sorbets, a cake, a cheesecake and some sort of milk shake thing. Apparently it is meant to have chocolate fondants instead of the cake (it didn't happen due to a kitchen problem), but that didn't let anything down for me. The sorbets were really flavoursome and sharp, and Joe was quite a fan of the cheesecake.

Overall we had a lovely night, and Chino Latino were outstanding (and generous) hosts! Had it not been a Thursday night with work the next day, I am sure we could have stayed much longer and enjoyed the party. I would definitely recommend people giving it a try, and not being put off by the outside. The normal menu is quite pricy, but it is worth it for a treat!
The assiette of desserts
The winter spectacular
The Christmas menu - for smaller groups and offices

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