I’m no hipster, so when it comes to trendy restaurants it’s sort of a hit or miss sort of deal for me…what I’m trying to say is I’m not cool, but I do like good food. While I prefer the quiet and local there’s nothing wrong with the scene in Uptown or at Chino Latino. I’ve actually been several times.
The outside is sparkly, big plus for me (ooo, shiny things). Kidding. The outside is indeed shiny, but I like how it adds a little flare to Lake and Hennepin. The exterior design alone is enough to make you want to stop. There is valet parking (at least on the weekends) for those of us to either like to feel fancy, actually have the money for valet, or are just lazy (there’s a parking ramp across the street and half a block down). The entire restaurant front opens up to reveal a street patio where the people watching is superb.
Enter and you’ll find yourself in a mix of neon colored lights, some Asian décor and lots of happy customers. There is high energy and noise, but good noise if you’re not looking for an intimate and quiet evening. The 2 floors of Chino house several tables, the downstairs area made especially for large parties, and a great bar. The staff is very attentive and helpful. I’ve always had a good experience with the service. The menu is diverse and interesting, but also a little spendy. Happy Hours go from 4:30pm-7:00pm daily and again at 10:30pm-12:00am Sundays through Thursdays. Taps are $3.50, which is reasonable and they had a couple discount apps. While Chino claims to serve ‘street food’ you won’t find street food prices, dinner is going to set you back a bit.
My favorites are the Bulgogi Lettuce Cups ($12.00, yikes!) which include the always traditional Korean kimche and BBQ beef served with lettuce for wraps. The Big Kahuna Polynesian Pupu which includes shrimp rumaki, five spiced ribs, fried calamari, dumplings, chicken wings and grilled fruit satay. Really fun, a good amount of food, but still a little high in price at $35.00, but enough to share. The Tuna Tataki is also great, but I know I can get the same dish at Sushi tango for $7 while at Chino it is $12. All of there items are delicious and fun. My only advice would be skip the sushi and try some of their other fun signature dishes. Their sushi is decent, but over priced and nothing much to write home about.
Chino Latio is definitely something out of the ordinary and worth a try. Just remember price, noise and don’t forget to make reservations especially on the weekends!