Chino in Kennedy Town.

Posted: April 24, 2015 in dinner, expensive
Tags: , , ,

Chino is a Mexican Japanese restaurant by the guys from Sunday’s Grocery, Yardbird and Ronin.  They have the award winning pedigree that HK desires.  It is affordable blue collar Mexican fare combined with high attention to detail Japanese cuisine.  It is neither Mexican nor Japanese so prior price points cannot be taken as a reference.  It’s expensive Mexican food once you boil it down.  They will be busy regardless so you don’t need me to toot your horn.

Let’s start with the drinks.

Draft beer is $60 for 300ml.  To put this in comparison, a can of coke is 325ml.  Now take into account 20% of a glass of beer is head and you get $60 for 240ml of beer.  This is expensive no matter which way you cut it.  Their drink menu is full of beers and wines you can’t buy through retail channels, smart.  They specialize in Mexico liquors of the Mezcal variety.  I tend to stay away from alcohol now so high percentage alcoholic beverages are lost on me.

Then onto the food.

chips and guac

chips and guac

Appetizers – tortilla chips and guacamole.  Tortilla chips made fresh are a pain in the ass.  Guacamole is easy enough to make on your own so I was anxious to try one from a award winning chef and his kitchen.  I found the guacamole decent enough but a tad salty with a heavy cheese/dairy taste.  $25 for a plate of chips and $50 for guac.

Grilled Corn

Appetizer: Grilled Corn

Grilled Corn | Chipotle Kewpie | Cotija Cheese – grilled corn covered in cheese and sauce.  It’s good.  They took away the plate too quickly, before I had time to eat the cheese that fell off the corn.

Each taco and tastado can be consumed with one bite.  Price point is $60HKD per taco/tastado.  In the west coast states with a large Mexican influence, a bite size taco works out to be $1.50 – $2 USD.  The Chino boys are charging $8 USD per taco to put it into perspective.  Now the tortillas are made the correct way using corn flour etc every morning.  At their price point, everything should be made in house as there is no way I am paying the HK premium for one to take food out of the refrigerator to re-heat for me.

chicken and egg

chicken and egg

Chicken Tinga Taco – chicken had a weird texture, similar to that of breast meat out of a can.

pork and pineapple

pork and pineapple

Marinated Pork / Roasted Pineapple – good stuff but too simple for the large price tag.

Crispy Fish Taco – think fish and chips, the fish has a nice crispy layer of batter.  A deep fried piece of fish will mask the smell of bad fish.  I know Chino will not serve bad fish so why deep fry it?  It loses the fresh taste.

fish taco

fish taco

Fried Rice / Cilantro / Crispy Garlic – avoid this one.  It’s $100.  If you are still hungry after devouring tacos and tastados, head over to one of the local chinese restaurants down the street and order a plate of fried rice for $40.  It taste the same with the fusion influence plus you get a much larger serving size.  For $100, I expect it to come in a stone bowl with crispy charred rice.  Give me something I can make on my own so I can keep coming back.

$100 bowl of fried rice.

$100 bowl of fried rice.

Chino is a decent interpretation of Mexican food.  It is better than Cali-Mex and on par with Little Burro.  It still does not come close to authentic Mexican where the price point is affordable.  One can expect to pay a stiff premium to eat blue collar cuisine in a hip trendy modern setting.  I like the way everything in the restaurant fits together nicely, from the type face and print on the menus to the brown stain on the chopsticks.  Everything is well thought out to demand a higher price point.  The chopsticks may cost a little more on a dollar basis which would not pass mustre on a percentage basis but this allows them to charge the premium as everything goes together well enough to justify it.    My pay did not increase 5 fold to account for the HK premium so I will gorge on Mexican the next time I am back home.   ChinoHK is the best Mexican food available in HK, sadly you will need to pay a stiff premium to enjoy it.

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Comments
  1. Dan says:

    “Chino is a Mexican Japanese restaurant by the guys from Sunday’s Grocery, Yardbird and Ronin.”

    – Uh… no, it’s not. Neither is it a great way to kick off an informed restaurant review with a completely false statement. Kinda sets the tone for the rest of the ‘I eat food so I’m qualified to write about restaurants’ review.

    “It is affordable blue collar Mexican fare… It is neither Mexican nor Japanese so prior price points cannot be taken as a reference. It’s expensive Mexican food once you boil it down.”

    – Leaving aside your slightly-left-of centre “blue collar” reference… How does this paragraph make any sense. You write that it is affordable (yes, you add with Japanese cuisine but no mention of value). Then explain that it is not one nor the other so one cannot accurately surmise its value. And finally, despite your claim that it is immeasurable, you deem it “expensive,” which is a relative I would add.

    “To put this in comparison, a can of coke is 325ml.”

    – I’m gonna stop using the phrase “apples to oranges” and start using “cokes to beers” because there is no comparison… nor do you actually make one. And if you did partake in the occasional malted, adult beverage you might observe that a properly poured beer will settle. Assuming you did not separate the beer from the head (which is beer) and measure them in a volumetric flask, I would be curious to know how your figure of 240ml was derived. By a glance at a glass of beer?

    You may be interested (or maybe not) to learn two actual bonafide facts:
    – Suntory, the beer that Chino pours, suggests (from their website) : “The golden ratio of beer and head is 70:30.”
    – Generally speaking and despite our simple-minded vocational skills, us restaurant folk use glassware slightly to significantly larger than the amount of liquid served in said glass.

    And then your generally non-descript description of the food, which is almost entirely a financial analysis rather than an understanding of food or cooking, and chock-full of real gems.

    “chicken had a weird texture, similar to that of breast meat out of a can”
    – I have to admit, you may be right. I have never eaten breast meat out of a can, so I have no reference point for that.

    “Each taco and tastado [sic] can be consumed with one bite”
    – Seriously? I mean I can shove a Little Debbie cake in my mouth but a one-bite tostada? Slow down man they are not charging you for time spent in the chair, so there’s something you can appreciate.

    “good stuff but too simple for the large price tag”
    – Vague and confused. If it is too simple, how is it also good stuff? As you haven’t mentioned the price, you unfortunate readership can only guess as to what is too simple or how it could have been made less simple or value-added. Surely you could offer some suggestions and encouragement to this restaurant (which happens to be a business that some human beings rely upon as their sole source of income.)

    “deep fried piece of fish will mask the smell of bad fish”
    – Not to anyone who knows anything about fish it won’t.
    “why deep fry it? It loses the fresh taste.”
    – What is “the fresh taste”? And how does frying fish destroy that? I’m sure the Japanese, Chinese, Thai, English, French, whomever created the Baja Fish Taco and pretty much every major cuisine on Earth would be very interested to understand this phenomenon and rectify their inglorious and shameful tradition of frying fish.

    “$100, I expect it to come in a stone bowl with crispy charred rice.”
    – for RMB$80 (HKD$100) I expect to get a haircut and a happy-ending massage on Third Ring Road in Beijing (c. 2005). Just sayin’.

    And in summation…

    “It still does not come close to authentic Mexican where the price point is affordable.”
    – Well that is surprising, unless you take into account that they are not trying to be authentic Mexican nor are they paying Mexican rates on shop-rental or Mexican prices on their produce which was no brought over from the next town by donkey (or burro, as they say.)

    “stiff premium to eat blue collar cuisine in a hip trendy modern setting”
    – Again, not exactly sure how blue-collar fits here with uni, scallops, lobster, quail and wagyu, but you are correct that you are paying for that “hip & trendy” setting and the servers and the lights and all the other costs incurred so that restaurateurs, good ones, can eek out a nett profit after tax in the neighborhood of 15%. I live in Singapore and the national average EBITDA in F&B for 2013 was 7.5%.
    If you don’t care about everything else that goes into to the dining experience, order take-out and enjoy every bite with your calculator. Your review give me reason to think (possibly incorrectly) that you come from a financial background or work in that sector. I use an ATM fairly often but I certainly wouldn’t know how to improve that machine nor the bank that owns it.

    “ChinoHK is the best Mexican food available in HK”
    – why not start with this?
    “sadly you will need to pay a stiff premium to enjoy it”
    – why should people not be willing to pay for the best?
    whatever business you are in, do you not expect your clients/customers to pay a premium for premium product/services?

    Thank you for your time,

    – dan

    and just one more thing
    “The chopsticks may cost a little more on a dollar basis which would not pass mustre on a percentage basis but this allows them to charge the premium as everything goes together well enough to justify it.”
    – what in the f*#k does that mean? are you not contradicting yourself in one (run-on) sentence?

    • Dan, thanks for your review. I will not quit my day job. The purpose of my blog is to document the restaurants to which visiting friends may want to visit so I don’t have to play your guide. Mexican food is one thing we all seem to miss dearly while in Asia. Chino is the best Mexican available in hk.

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