We Checked Out The Soho Japanese Robatayaki Restaurant You Nito Know About

Every time I stroll down Broadwick Street, a luminous alien-green glow hits my cheek from behind the glass window of a vibrant-looking Japanese restaurant. I peer in, curious, make a mental note to visit and then forget. That is until one not-really-summer-but-close-enough Wednesday evening in May. INKO NITO was calling my name.

Since opening in 2018, the eatery founded by Rainer Becker (of Zuma, Roka and Obkix fame) has provided diners with a creative mix of Japanese dishes with Korean influences. This is alongside delicious, self-proclaimed 'unconventional' robatayaki from a grill that's the space's centrepiece.

Sleek in an approachable way, the interiors, designed by Los Angeles-based Studio Mai, are inspired by lively street markets: thick, natural stone countertops jut out, surrounded by bare brick walls, reclaimed timber, cherry blossom trees and graphic artwork. On the way to the loo, there’s a neon pink ‘egg’ mirror that doubles up as an art installation, as well as a great spot for an Instagram picture.

Inko Nito London Menu | DesignMyNight

Going INKO NITO? There's nothing secret about its pretty plates.

My dinner date and I were here to tuck into the tasting menu (£49.50). Containing ten dishes, we deemed it incredibly affordable considering the location and quality of what was about to come our way. To begin, we sipped on two Palomitas (£11.90) each, made up of Espolon tequila, lime, pink grapefruit and agave. Long and pastel pink in appearance, these tasted like a sharp, tangy juice that went down dangerously smoothly.

Our second drink of the evening was an INKO Star (£13.30) - a house favourite and rightly so because it came with a little shot of sparkling wine, which I thought was delightful. Similar to a porn star martini in fruity taste, it featured a little splash of pisco and was topped with a kaffir lime leaf.

First on our table was the baby gem salad with wafu sauce and chilli which, structurally, was difficult to pop into our mouths but tasted incredible - the sesame kick of the sauce was addictive, but not as addictive as the brown butter ponzu that was slathered all over the grilled hispi cabbage that arrived next. Rich and silky, strands of shredded leaves were being consumed absentmindedly on rotation, only stopping to chomp on the INKO tacos. These signature beauties were filled with salmon, yellowtail tartare and wasabi that melted in the mouth before leaving a little tang behind.

Inko Nito Soho Review | DesignMyNight

The interiors resemble vibrant street markets mixed with modern chic.  

Ginger soy edamame kept us occupied until the spicy tuna tempura slid in front of us. Topped with tiny dollops of chilli mayo, these bite-size pieces didn’t particularly pack the heat, but flavour-wise won us over with salty notes. If there was a dish that was perhaps too hot to handle for my dinner date (whereas I was trained on Nandos from a young age), it would’ve been the spicy pork dumplings served with a mushroom ponzu. The quartet of crispy, folded pillows certainly made our tastebuds tingle; albeit slightly too greasy, the Japanese breadcrumb fried chicken made for a much safer choice, especially when dipped in the accompanying cool peanut, garlic and yoghurt dip.

On to the penultimate round, where we folded tender beef cheek in butter lettuce wraps, drizzled our creations with Korean miso and topped it off with strands of pickled daikon, before pulling apart flakes of salmon with ruby grapefruit and sansho salt. The latter must have been bathed in miso because the unami flavour was ridiculously moreish and, as someone who's a sucker for the stuff, I found myself savouring every last mouthful. The tenderstem broccoli with onion wafu complemented the fish but at this point we had slowed down, making a valiant attempt to save room for dessert.

Inko Nito Soho Menu | DesignMyNight

Bloomin' lovely: the cocktails from the INKO NITO menu were a real highlight.   

We ended up sharing the INKO cheesecake despite being persuaded countless times to try the French toast doused in whiskey. Had I been a chocoholic, my arm would have been pulled but I'm often browsing the dessert menu for one thing and one thing only: a crumbly biscuit base topped with thick, cream cheese. However, the fact that this one was the size of a small baby's head was slightly alarming considering we were 90% full. Fruity and sharp, we lost ourselves in layers of fresh strawberries, oat crumble and guava sauce until our bodies simply said no more, and it was time to take a short walk before going home.

The DesignMyNight Digest

INKO NITO Soho isn’t for those looking for a high-brow tasting menu but for those seeking Japanese flavours with a twist, presented creatively and enthusiastically. I enjoyed the concept of the set dishes, as the variety of plates had me trying things I wouldn’t usually, and the fact that I could see the robata grill from where I was sitting played into a theatrical element that was greatly appreciated. There was nothing particularly standout for me food-wise, but I would return for another couple of Palomitas without question. 

  💰 The damage: £149.40 for two, excluding services charge.

  📍  The location: 55 Broadwick Sreet, W1F 9QS.

  👌 Perfect for: Casual dinner with friends.

 ⭐ Need to know: The pink 'egg' light on the way to the loo is very social media-friendly. 


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