Playing catch-up a little – I took these photos a while ago but didn’t get round to blogging them, for one reason or another. I think mostly it was because I really don’t like these photos. It was super dark and I couldn’t quite get my camera to do what I wanted it to do, so I put the flash on and then just BLAH. Disaster all over the shop. I also neglected to take photos of all of our dishes, partly because I was so hungry that I just started eating and totally forgot, partly because it was Graduation Day, and partly because I was a little tipsy. Hey, it was Graduation Day.
Anyway. Chino Latino. I think this is by far one of the best restaurants in Nottingham. I lived in Nottingham for the better part of three years, and it’s a cool place to be a student. I say ‘cool’. I think what I really mean is when you’re poor and living off a diet which mainly consists of pot noodles, beans on toast, anything in the Sainsbury’s Basics range and copious amounts of cheap, terrible alcohol then little gems you find in Nottingham make the city as a whole appear to be ‘cool’.
Incidentally, I was poor for an entirely different reason. I was poor because I refused to live like a student and cooked real meals using real ingredients, often holding dinner parties for various friends whom I never let pay a cent (or even a penny, since we’re in Nottingham, innit blud). From scratch. Oh yeaaah. Sainsbury’s Basics can bite me.
Maybe I’m being a little harsh on Nottingham because, y’know, it was fun. I made lots of friends. I had a good time. I just didn’t really do the club scene from the end of first year which kind of alienated me a little, because, well, sweaty, smelly clubs where your feet stick to the floor, everybody around you is drunk and trying to grind up on one another like dogs in heat, the place smells like a mixture of sweat, vomit and shame, and you feel horrendously out of place because all you really want to do is go home and bake brownies, doesn’t really do it for me. But then that’s just me. When I was 17 I loved dingy little clubs. But I wasn’t 17 anymore.
Anyway, I went to Chino Latino twice in the three years I lived in Nottingham. Once with Momma Lee and a girl friend whom I was acting alongside in a play in my second year, and Momma Lee in all her generosity was taking the two of us out for dinner; and once for my Graduation dinner (mostly because the first time we went it was so good).
So, here’s the thing. I think Chino Latino, by Nottingham standards, is very good. By London standards, however, hm, not so much. They try to do the pan-Asian thing, and whilst it succeeds on one level (their miso black cod, for example, is delicious. Almost as good as Asia de Cuba’s) it, unfortunately, completely fails on another. They apparently also have branches in London, Leeds and Cologne (!) in Germany, but having only ever eaten at the Nottingham branch I can only vouch for this particular one. If you’ve eaten at the London, Leeds or Cologne branches, drop me a comment and let me know how your experience compared!
Momma Lee and I had the Tasting Menu, which kicked things off with Stir-fried prawns with string beans and chives. The prawns were nice and crunchy, but the flavour was somehow lacking.
Next up, the beef ceviche with coriander, shallots, cucumber, ponzu jelly and lotus root. Interesting, but again, not spectacular. Then came the black miso cod which was clearly tasty as I have zero photos of it. I think Momma Lee and I devoured it and then I said, ‘oh whoops, no photos’. Sorry. But it was good. Probably the best part of the tasting menu.
Next up, Hot Sushi. I should’ve been clued in by the name, really. I’m not sure where to begin with this, because that’s exactly how I felt eating it, as well as confused and a little betrayed. Essentially it was salmon sushi (very large pieces of, I might add) that had been covered in tempura batter and deep fried, then served hot with a ponzu dipping sauce. This is Chino Latino’s major fault – doing stupid things to food that are a) totally unnecessary and b) not very tasty. I know, pan-Asian, but this was just weird. Big no-no in my book.
I then neglected to take photos of two of the best parts of the whole meal: sirloin steak served on hot rocks with sweet potato chips and a wasabi ponzu sauce; and the Korean spiced lamb cutlets, served with a wasabi salsa and wasabi cream. Why? Why didn’t I take photos?! I’ll tell you why: because I am an idiot. Simple as that. So, let’s move on.
The Tasting Dessert, consisting of: chocolate fondant, green tea creme brulee, assorted exotic fruits, lychee sorbet and passionfruit sorbet. Nice enough but again, nowt special going on here (apart from maybe the creme brulee, which was tasty, if cold). There was also a bowl of what looked like a hot chocolate soup, but it just made no sense to me. Was I supposed to pour it on the other chocolate thing on the platter? I have no idea. It was just there, staring at me. I let it stare and left it, more out of contempt for its own indecision than anything else.
So ends my Graduation meal. I know, it’s not very positive, but I think retrospectively I’m not in a very positive mood about this meal. It was much better the first time round, I dunno, maybe we just ordered the wrong thing? Maybe since then I’ve become even more of a food snob. Maybe I was just tired of Nottingham. But even after having said all that if you happen to be in Nottingham and you need somewhere to eat… Chino Latino’s a pretty good bet. A little on the pricey end, coming in at about £70 per head (including a cocktail and glass of champagne, it’s my Grad and I’ll get drunk if I want to), but the service is pretty good and the food… well. It’s decent. For Nottingham.
41 Maid Marian Way
0115 9477 444
Mon-Sun: 12pm-2pm; 6pm-10.30pm
All for now. I’ve got some more competition entries come soon, as well as another review, so keep your eyes peeled! And until next time, friends – peace and love.