134-136 Wardour Street
London W1F 8ZR
020 7851 7051
After reading Pig Pig’s Corner’s review of Inamo, K really wanted to go there. It was quite strange how we’ve never heard of it until recently, even though it’s been around for about 2 years now. According to our server it’s been only recently when they’ve had an increase in media interest and public awareness. We think one of the best ways to get the word out is via food blogs, in this tech-savvy world.
Dining at Inamo is a lot of fun. There are no menus to flip and browse, and you have minimal interaction with your server. Instead, above every table is a projector, and your table is the screen. The menu is projected onto the table and you have your own little touch pad to scroll through the menu, or change the funky displays, or play games, or even to see a webcam of the kitchen at work! You order your food by clicking at the appropriate dishes and send your order directly to the kitchen. It’s one of the coolest restaurant concepts we’ve ever seen. (And you can’t complain about lousy service, because, well, there isn’t much service at all. Though a service charge –was- included in the bill.)
The food at Inamo is modern Japanese, very similar to Tsunami along Charlotte Street, but far more limited in their selection. (We also noticed some Thai influence in some of their dishes, and especially so in their sauces.) It was a struggle to find any sushi dishes, and any of those standard Japanese fare like udon or ramen. Nevertheless, we had so much fun with the interactive display that none of this bothered us.
The food came quite quickly. We were one of the few diners that afternoon, so it was no wonder that service was extremely efficient. It could be as well the way the restaurant is run – with the peopleless ordering system so there’s less to do on the part of the servers, so things run smoother.
Anyway, our first dish was the oyster shooter – and it was heavenly. Based on first impressions – Inamo gets an A+. The oyster was fresh and the lemon ponzu sauce was very refreshing.
Next up were the scallops – unfortunately these weren’t as good. They were a little too overcooked and slightly burnt on the outside. Our baby crispy prawns were also quite disappointing. We couldn’t taste any seasoning, and it was an overall very bland dish. The accompanying sauce however saved the dish. There was a very clear Thai influence in the sauce, and it brought the entire dish to life. However, we felt that the prawns shouldn’t have had to rely on the sauce to give it any taste, so overall this was a lackluster attempt.
Our Black Cod arrived next. With the toptable discount, this cost us just £7, which was probably the most unbeatable price ever for this dish in any restaurant. Unfortunately, there’s a reason to why this dish is so cheap at Inamo – it can’t compare at all to the same black cod dish at Nobu, or Roka, or even Tsunami. Firstly, the fish isn’t well marinated – in the middle it just tasted bland, and required the sauce to give it some flavor. Next, the fish was overcooked, so texture-wise it was way off. We suspect as well that the fish wasn’t exactly top-grade, so it couldn’t be too lightly cooked or it would show. The fish was not smooth and melt-in-your-mouth, like it should have been. Also, the dish wasn’t very refined – we could see bits of chili sauce in the spicy miso sauce, so clearly the sauce wasn’t very well made, and there were bones in the fish. Well, the argument may be made that for such a price one shouldn’t expect too much. That is definitely true, and it may be so that most people will be happy to settle for the black cod at Inamo since it’s way more affordable than at, say, Roka. However, the flaws in the dish were so apparent that we had to make a note of it.
We ordered a soft shelled crab roll, which was mediocre at best. Perhaps to satisfy the ‘fusion’ brief, rocket was added into the roll, which didn’t go well with the soft shelled crab at all. The soft shelled crab had too much batter as well, and wasn’t seasoned. It was overall bland, strange, and boring.
Other dishes we had:
Black faced lamb – overcooked, hence too tough, and not marinated well, but the accompanying vegetables were really nice.
Wild boar rolls– asparagus wrapped in a thin slice of wild boar. This was rather tasty. However, the meat was overcooked, but the asparaguses were delicious.
Ribs – the glaze was full of flavor, and everything was tasty (for once), but once again, this was a rather unrefined dish. The sauce was stringy and had strange bits of fiber in it.
Wagyu Bavette – Completely disappointing. The beef was tough, and uninspiring. The mushrooms were way too salty.
Tiger Green Prawns – these were very nice. The prawns were well grilled, and it smelt lovely.
Clearly we ordered a lot of food. We have a tendency when we go to a restaurant that we’ve never been to, to feel like we have to try everything in their menu that catches our eye, because we might never come back. In Inamo there’s really no need for this, since the interactive menu means that you can order as and when you want, but we completely forgot that we could do this, and ordered to our hearts content the first time round.
Overall it was a very amateurish attempt at modern Japanese food. The quality of the food isn’t very high, but the presentation is pretty good, and the price is unbeatable (with the 50% toptable discount). The interactive display adds to the appeal of the restaurant as well, so it’s one place that we think will do really well, despite the food. (Well, to be fair, the food wasn’t at all bad, it was just very amateurish and underseasoned.)
Additional note: 50% off if you reserve via toptable.com
Service: 8/10 (not a lot of service involved in this restaurant, but whatever service we got (ie food delivery, small talk while waiting for the card to process etc) was really polite and friendly