Inamo is not a place to go if you need to catch up with an old friend. I made that mistake. I hadn’t seen said friend in three years. I looked at him, ready to engage in an update of everything that had happened in our recent pasts. But then my gaze drifted down towards the table and I was a moth to a flame: all I could do was to stare in fascination at the interactive menu.
Each table has a projector above it, which beams down the menu and all kind of gimmicks that are guaranteed to entertain for hours. We set mood lighting. Purple, then blue. We turned our table into a cake display. We turned it into beautiful mountain scenery. We even discovered games!
The screens are addictive, and really, really fun. They may kill your conversation, but you may still communicate through squeals of excitement at the pretty images appearing before you.
A rumbling stomach, however, is a good reminder of why you’re there in the first place: to eat. The food is Asian-fusion with Thai, Japansese, Korean, Malaysian and Chinese dishes, and although beautifully presented, the prices would make anyone who has been to Asia cry. Fortunately, the two-courses for £15 (before 19:15) menu represents good value, even if the choices are limited.
We started with some Spicy Aubergine (£5.25) which are fried with pinyin (“cloud ear” similar to a black mushroom). Fairly simple but aubergines can seem like the king of delicacies if cooked well. These were very pleasing indeed.
We also sampled the Chicken Satay (£6.50), which were moist and served with a surprisingly light peanut satay sauce.
For mains, I took Berkshire Pork Neck (£14.75) described as ‘Slow braised tender pork neck served with confit of apple, spicy chocolate sauce, red wine reduction & crushed wasabi peas.’ There were a lot of interesting flavours going on here but it might have been a little too ambitious – they didn’t quite all fit together and the apple didn’t appear to be more than simply chopped apple. Overall, it was enjoyable but in need of a slight re-think, especially as the chocolate flavour was not detectable.
My co-diner tucked into the Thai Red Curry (£13.75), a standard creamy coconut curry with butternut squash, mangetout and mushrooms. The sauce was rich and nuanced – pleasing but not revolutionary.
Inamo is fun and chic. If you have a higher budget, its menu sounds tantalising – who could refuse Soft Shell Crab Maki Rolls and Hot Stone Rib-Eye? Or if you want to feel like a god and project landscapes across the table, then it’s also worth a visit.
Inamo Soho 3/5 – Fun and stylish Asian-fusion food but be prepared to pay for the novelty of interactive menus.
Food 3/5 – Imaginative but in need of refining.
Value 2/5 – Good quality, but definitely pricey.
Atmosphere 3/5 – Maybe lunch isn’t a big thing, but there wasn’t anyone there! But when you have mood lighting, who needs people?!
Service 3/5 – A little slow at the beginning – they hadn’t switched our screens on, and therefore we had no way of ‘calling’ the waiters!
Where: Wardour Street, Soho
When: Mon – Wed 5pm-11.30pm; Thur 12pm-3pm / 5pm-11.30p; Fri – Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-10.30pm