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Fun @ Inamo

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Warning: we were invited to review this restaurant and the entire meal was paid for by the house. The following below is our independent view, but you have been warned.

The PigPig told me before about the exceptionally cool menu system at Inamo, where the table becomes an interactive menu and one can order food and drinks without ever actually talking to a waiter, perfect for technophiles and antisocial people like us. When I heard of the pan-Asian menu, I was ready to write this place off as a place serving semi-decent food and relying on its gimmick to attract customers. So I was really surprised when the PigPig came back after a meal there months ago saying the food was surprisingly good, and I was even more happy to get a chance to review this restaurant.

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Inamo had a bar as well so the setting was suitably darkened with just the occasional wall lights. The tables and chairs were of a simple functional modern style and more importantly was completely plain. Presumably this was so the projectors from above had a clean slate to display upon.

Inamo, London 02

From the touchpad on the bottom right corner, one can peruse and order all food and drinks available; the waiter will then bring to the table whichever order is ready from the kitchen in no particular order.

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In addition to that, we could also change the background image and the colours for some of the patterns displayed on the table.

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There are also little bonus things such as a webcam of the kitchen, games such as battleship as well as little touristy things such as displaying a map of the area along with various attractions nearby.

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We started off with some cocktails. I chose a “Sake Mojito” which was exceedingly light and great to drink on a hot summer’s day; in fact the PigPig was so jealous of my choice she knocked it over in a hissy fit. Her “Raspberry lemon cooler” was alright but a little bit more bitter than she would have liked.

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Small dishes

Nigiri Set”. Simple things done right taste great. The two pieces each of salmon, tuna and yellowfish had a good texture and seemed fresh enough (fresh being difficult to clarify since almost all fish get frozen anyway) while the rice was well seasoned and packed together pretty well (didn’t fall apart which does happen even in sushi restaurants).

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Soft Shell Crab Maki Rolls”. Who doesn’t love soft shell crab maki? Anyway the rice was already good so the deep fried soft shell crab addition could only make it better. My only complaint was the over-abundance of the lettuce leaves.

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Hamachi with soy mirin truffle”. The thinly sliced hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi soaked up the lightly flavoured marinade which was supposed to have truffle oil but I didn’t notice it much. There definitely was oil of some sort which helped bring out the taste of the fish better.

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Wild Boar Rolls”. The compact dense rolls were filled with wild boar meat, asparagus strips and bits of enoki mushrooms. There were also a fair amount of salty beans (?yellow beans) on top which made things too salty but it could just be shaken off. This combination wasn’t precisely bad, but it felt a bit underwhelming compared to the other dishes.

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Alaskan King Crab”. Buoyed by my experience of king crab at One-O-One. I was slightly deflated by Inamo’s version as the shredded meat was dry and didn’t seem as sweet as usual. The other bits and herbs added to the crab were nice but it didn’t make much difference as there’s no point flogging a dead horse.

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Large dishes

Black Cod”. Any restaurant worth its salt selling Japanese or modern Japanese cuisine will have their own version of this dish on their menu after Nobu super-popularised this. Most people still claim Nobu’s version is better than whichever other restaurant they’ve tried, but there are some small voices (lol perhaps not a small voice after all) saying Inamo’s version is just as good as Nobu.

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I’m slightly inclined to agree with Catty as the fish here was superb to eat. The two juicy fillets given were sweetly marinated and the natural fattiness of the fish went really well with the salty miso. We didn’t order any rice but it would have gone a treat with the black cod. My only complaint was that one or two edges of the fish were a bit on the dry and tough side.

Sashimi Platter”. As I mentioned earlier for the sushi nigiri, the fish generally had a good firm texture and felt reasonably fresh. More interestingly was the dollop of green wasabi mix which was slightly runny and so was easier to eat with the slices of fish. The scallops had a weird bitter taste though.

Inamo, London 20

Duck with Pancakes”. Pretty much a standard crispy duck with pancake and hoi sin sauce, but with a Vietnamese influence (I did mention this was a pan-Asian menu); instead of the cucumber and spring onion, bean sprouts and mint (like for a pho) were provided. It actually worked pretty well.

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Wagyu Bavette”. Perfectly grilled on the outside for a slightly charred surface while the inside remains juicily pink, this was a great main to eat. I wasn’t convinced about the marbling of the wagyu, but the beef strips (all nicely cubed for us) had a great natural beefy taste, nicely augmented by the light soy based sauce. Another dish which would have gone really great with some rice.

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Black Faced Lamb”. The grilled lamb itself was well cooked and pretty tasty, but the accompanying beans on top (also present in the Wild Boar Rolls) were far too salty.

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Vanilla Crème Brûlée”. The naked pudding certainly doesn’t look like a typical crème brûlée but the creamy rich milky custard, enfused with the slight strawberry juice around it was great to eat.

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Macaron and white chocolate mousse”. The pandan flavoured macaron and the mousse within was a good pairing and it was quite nice to eat except for the gingered sweets scattered about which was more due to personal tastes than anything else. Similarly the lemongrass and coconut sorbet was a bit hit and miss for me as I’m not a huge fan of processed coconut flavours.

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Thai Basil Pana Cotta”. As with the crème brûlée, the panna cotta was very rich and creamy and the infusion of basil flavour gave this a nice twist.

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Altogether the bill came up to nearly £200 for three people. We might have ordered quite a lot of dishes and we were pretty full but not exactly stuffed. In retrospect though we should probably have ordered some rice to go with the mains which would help balance out the meal as well.

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Food – 7.0
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 4.0

Not much to complain about really. The food all had strong vibrant flavours and there wasn’t a lot wrong with most of it. I certainly enjoyed almost all the stuff placed in front of me and I would be more than happy to visit Inamo again.

Best bit: the super cool menu.
Worst bit: the pricetag.

Thanks again for the wonderful experience!

134-136 Wardour Street,
Tel: +44(020) 7851 7051
Official website

Inamo on Urbanspoon

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