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LaChino can be featured as a full menu, a week-long program at an action station or as daily selections of single items at a Chef’s Table.

Best Concepts: LaChino offers a unique twist on the fusion of Asian and Latin cuisines

Versatile program combining two of the most popular international food traditions has been named winner of the 2023 FM Best Concept Award in the Best Menu category.

Two things help define Chef Jaime Montes de Oca—his upbringing in a food-centered Latino household and a passion for Asian food—and that happy combination led to the development of LaChino, a concept that embraces two of the hottest food trends for 2023 and beyond: Latin American flavors and Chinese fusion flavors. For its culinary creativity, LaChino has been named the winner of the 2023 FM Best Concept Award in the Best Menu Concept category.

True, Latin and Chinese fusion is not a new concept. The blend between cultures and flavors can be traced back to the Spanish conquests in the 16th century, and Asian and Latin influences can be seen in each cuisine through shared ingredients & cooking styles. Mexico, The Philippines, China, Peru, Japan and Brazil are all countries that through immigration have shared their kitchens and developed unique cuisines. For instance, Chifa, a culinary tradition based on Cantonese elements fused with traditional Peruvian ingredients and traditions, is a dominant dominant cuisine in Peru. Among ingredients shared across the different cuisines are chiles, garlic, citrus, tropical fruits and various herbs, rices, nuts and seeds.


Some accounts have also adapted the LaChino concept into their catering programs.

Montes de Oca had begun working with Chef Susur Lee back in 2008 on a deep dive into Global Asian cuisine and “a few years into our relationship Chef Susur asked me, ‘If you were to open your own restaurant, what would be your concept?’ My immediate response: LaChino,” he recalls.

Montes de Oca worked with a majority Asian team, and gained knowledge about previously unknown techniques and formerly unfamiliar ingredients while sharing with them the flavors and traditions of his own heritage. Combining the two cuisines became a challenge and a passion, he says, and they both show through his present culinary style.

LaChino began its development as a Restaurant Associates (R/A) concept in the spring of 2022. The plan was to build a culinary team, test recipes, continue data research, work with the dietitian team to enter recipes in the database and work with the marketing team for branding and collateral and have it complete to launch in January 2023. The result is delicious menu with powerful and sizzling flavors, and a variety of options for those that eat meat and those that do not.


The vast range of Asian and Latin fusion traditions lends itself to a wide variety of dishes.

The concept features designed cycle menus that include Street Foods, Salads, Add-on Sides,

Entrees, Sweets and Beverages, with the menus designed with versatility so they can be featured as a full menu, a week-long program at an action station or as daily selections of single items at a Chef’s Table.

LaChino is highly guest friendly with a great mix-and-match approach so customers can choose from a variety of offerings and combinations such as an entrée plus a sweet or a street food plus a beverage. It features a minimum of one Street Food, one Add-on Side, two Entrees, one Sweet and one Beverage, with  salads and add-ons having specific portion pricing.

It’s also attractive, displaying fresh, clean-cut vegetables with good color for presentation and only one vegetable or garnish per container, so two types are never mixed. Dietary restrictions and food allergies are honored with appropriate tools and containers identified with proper signage. So are spicy ingredients as well as nuts and seafood used as ingredients.


Attractive displays show fresh, clean-cut vegetables with good color and only one vegetable or garnish per container so two types are never mixed.

As an example, one week’s menu would include the following…

Street Foods: Char Siu Pork Taquitos (chili lime cream, Napa slaw, pico de Gallo) and Scallion Plantain Cake (avocado chimichurri, chili threads)

Salads/Add-Ons: Gulf Shrimp Ceviche (key lime, white soy, poblano chili, wonton crisps) and Sesame Caesar (kale, romaine, Cotija, toasted sesame dressing, crispy noodles)

Entrees: Korean Chili Tofu Enchilada (black beans, roast peppers, Monterey Jack, corn tortilla) and Kung Pan Tostada (spicy chicken, toasted peanut, Cojita lime, tortilla)

Sweets: Hong Kong Alfajores (egg custard, toasted coconut) and Sticky Arroz Con Leche (fresh mango, whipped cream)

Agua Fresca/Hortachas: Lychee & Green Melon, Coconut Lemon Grass & Thai Basil Mango

LaChino was launched with regional demos where managers in R/A’s three main regions—New York City, Boston and Washington DC—all met and tried the menu offerings and saw proper station set up and the marketing. LaChino started rolling into the field in February 2023 as accounts offered it as an action station or in some cases as a Chef’s Table.


Gulf Shrimp Ceviche features key lime, white soy, poblano chili and wonton crisps.

Among the results: the average check at LaChino has been considerably higher than the general check average, and in larger accounts, results showed an average of 85-100 covers per day purchasing LaChino for lunch versus a typical average of 60-70 for an action station, speaking to the attraction and repeat vistors to the LaChino program. It has also been added onto catering menus at a handful of accounts as a seasonal special and has been well received.

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