Greater Toronto's best ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip mall eateries.

Friday, April 22, 2011

These crazy Chinese guys mix Asian cuisine with Mexican comfort food

When Minh La goes on holidays in Mexico or Cuba, he is often greeted by locals shouting of "chino," the Spanish word for Chinese. So when Minh opened up a burrito joint with another Chinese-Canadian, Victor Su, they decided to run with the theme, calling it Chinos Locos, or "Crazy Chinese."

The restaurant is located in the east Toronto neighbourhood where Minh grew up, at 4 Greenwood Ave at Queen Street. There's a second location at 459 Church Street, a couple blocks south of Wellesley (see maps below).

Victor and Minh have a love of Latin American culture, and they've decorated the tiny space with Mexican wrestling masks and sombreros, along with one of those ceramic good luck cat sculptures you always see in Asian restaurants.

Minh, a former chef at the fancy Asian restaurant Blowfish on King West, brings careful attention to each and every ingredient that goes into his burritos. The chicken is all-white breast meat. For the pork burrito, he slow roasts pork leg for four hours in an Asian-style marinade made of honey and soy. The hot sauce is also made from scratch.

In addition to their chicken, pork, steak and bean burritos, Chinos Locos also has specials like its Korean BBQ burrito, jerk chicken burrito and General Tao chicken burrito. For vegetarians, there is a bean burrito as well as a vegan burrito with tofu, eggplant and shitake mushrooms. For all the burritos, you can choose between rice or chow mein noodles.

The fish burrito is made with sauteed basa, an Asian fish. Usually I don't bother ordering fish burritos or tacos and you can never taste the fish anyways, but here, the generous portions of marinated basa hold up well inside the burrito. 

The Korean BBQ with chow mein burrito ($8.99) was an interesting novelty, but I preferred the more traditional pork burrito with rice. It was perfect in every way and was just $6.99. And while both the Church Street location and the Greenwood Street location have great food, Greenwood is definitely my favourite due to its charming ambiance. 
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  1. Culture mash! Thanks for the hop tip.

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