London loves to dabble in some fusion foods, and if there’s one place that seemingly combines international flavours with some playful edges it’s Inamo. Having just opened in Covent Garden, there was table pong to be played and food to be devoured.
Tucked away down a side street flanked by Zara, the dark exteriors of Inamo beckon you in. The interior design owes influence from the Asian corners of the globe with the dark mystery of Japan coming through first and foremost. It’s all low lighting in here so the graphics on each table top really pop as you walk through the dining area. Keeping to clean, minimalist décor with wooden finishes and simple lighting Inamo gives off the air of an intimate basement den, even though its restaurant is street level. True to their interactive nature, each table displays oriental graphics which you can personally change with your cursor from pink blossoms to vibrant wavering colours or even luminous crawling creatures. There’s also a dedicated underground cocktail bar that’s hot on the mixology and sushi vibes where you leave the interactive tables behind and make it more of a social affair.
The Food & Drink
Representing the fragrant plates of Japan, Vietnam and Korea is second nature at Inamo. If you’re not sure where to start the staff do a great job of guiding you through the menu. And so, we went for the easy route: 1x Sushi/Sashimi plate, 1x Asian tapas, 2x Inamo classics (big plates) and 2x side dishes. It may not sound like a lot between 2 people but trust, it was.
The Soft Shell Crab Maki Rolls (£8.45) were a solid recommendation and the perfect opener to our eveving. The soft shell crab was really delicious to say the least. Then, we went for a bit of a left field tapas option with the Korean Chicken Wings (6.95). Coming glazed in a tangy Korean BBQ sauce and dusted with dessicated coconut, these were a hot, sweet and tangy mess. Next up was the Duck with Pancakes (£16.50) which needs little introduction. Get it, it never disappoints. Trying something different our final dish was the Five Spice Monkfish (£16.50) which was chunks of tempura monkfish served with a tropical dip and a seaweed side salad. The tropical dip had hints of mango which was pretty on point with the fish.
Finally, the Sizzling Vegetables (V) (£5.95) stir fried and glazed in a ginger reduction on a hot skillet at your table hit the spot as a neat side dish to the monkfish. And it doesn't count as Asian if there’s no Spicy Edamame (£4.95) involved. Salted with chilli and garlic? Absolutely.
Cocktails were a winner too. Martinis of all shapes and sizes were sampled: Lychee, Passionate and Cardamom Espresso all went down splendidly. The Tropical Tornado and Kodama are must-tries too.
Making our visit on a Wednesday night, the restaurant area was suitably packed out with a continuous turnover of new tables. Even at near full capacity, there’s a pleasant buzz to the place that doesn't overshadow your own conversation. Mainly because most people are immersed in ordering from their allocated table Ipad or because they’re in the midst of a tense game of ping pong with their partner (safe to say I won our game). The ambiance is glowing with colourful graphics changing around the room and the food comes out as and when it is cooked so there's a constant stream of sizzling fragrant foods. Inamo nails the convenient dining curve with a bit more grace than your typical informal set-up nudging elbows with the people at the bench next to you. There’s something personal about your Inamo experience, which is a distinctive edge to their service.
Cool concepts can sometimes go a miss in London when they’re trying too hard to make something that bit too complicated. Just bring me my food and put in on the table? But, the same is not said for Inamo. They've taken the city’s craving for Asian cuisine and served it up with a unique vision which sits somewhere between futuristic fun and fine, yet informal dining. The perfect serve.