So, I bit the bullet and tried the Chino Loco burrito place at Greenwood and Queen. My friend and I got the pork with chow mein, and the special -- a BBQ rib meat with mashed potato. We tried half of each and both concluded that overall, they were just okay. After reading reviews, I was hopeful, but feel a bit let down overall.
The menu is exciting -- seems like a really cool fusion of mexican and asian flavours. But that fusion falls short when it counts. The meats are cooked perfectly, beautifully seasoned, and very very tasty. Not dry at all -- very moist and flavourful. The problem is that the accompaniments don't complement the flavours of the meat - what is clearly the headliner in a good burrito. In particular, the BBQ rib and mashed potato was a contrast in well rounded BBQ flavour, and bland mashed potatoes. I know what the guys were going for here, but it didn't really work. When I think of a great BBQ pork, I think about a tasty, acidic slaw (maybe cabbage and fennel) as a complement. Not mashed potatoes. The house pork with chow mein -- again, the pork was great, but the chow mein was kind of slimy and cold. The drive home from the restaurant is only five minutes, and we dove right into our picks -- the potatoes and chowmein, added when cold, absorbed any actual heat out of the meat, making for a bit of a let down overall.
The three guys working at the place are definitely engaging. Very friendly, -- they were raised in the neighbourhood, and are committed to being a contributing member of the community. They're even hosting an appreciation bowling night. But in their enthusiasm, they forgot to offer any of the optional toppings, but remembered to suggest the toppings that cost extra -- cheese and sour cream. Don't offer the free stuff, but recommend the stuff that costs more... bad first impression. So there wasn't any extra flavour to offset the blandness of the chowmein and the potatoes. Unfortunate.
All that said, I may give them another try -- instead being a bit more discerning about my choices, and assertive in my request for more toppings. The owners seem to be really open to suggestions and I don't think they'd have much problem getting feedback. It seems like they're still working out the kinks of running a small business, and over time, I hope that with the support of the community and dedicated neighbours as customers, that they'll be successful in enhancing their overall service and most importantly, the flavour profiles of their burritos.
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