There are all sorts of reasons to start a restaurant. A desire to show your cooking to the world. A passion for fresh, local produce. To boldly take the world of molecular gastronomy to as yet untapped parts of the country. The other day, we went to Inamo, a restaurant which seems to have been founded on a desire to show off technology whilst serving oriental fusion food.
Inamo’s point of difference is the ordering system. Projectors in the ceiling project the menu onto your table. A small lap-top like trackpad is used to move the cursor. When a dish is chosen, a picture of the dish appears on your plate. It’s all very easy, and great fun. There are a couple of extras to the system of a chef cam (which is actually a bit too low res to allow you to see too much), and a couple of games to while away the time waiting for your food – we played a couple of games of battleships. Couples can also battle to change the colour and pattern of the projected table-cloth for a while, until one gets bored and gives in.
The menu is projected onto your table and plate, all great fun and I liked seeing how the dishes looked, but it was impossible to see an overview of the entire menu at once that made ordering difficult. We also made the tactical error of ordering everything at the same time, everything subsequently arrived together and I felt rather rushed.
Cocktails were tasty and boozy (£8 – £10 each). I was surprised that you could not request tapwater via the ordering system, only filtered at £2 a bottle. Our waiter bought tapwater once we asked for some.
Crispy tempura vegetables, packed with hot, hot, hot chilli, some of the vegetables could have been cooked a bit more.
Seafood gyoza (sitting on our game of battleships!) came with enough garlic to see off a whole bloodbank of vampires.
I am a tofu fiend, and this was lovely, crispy on the outside and silky soft on the inside. Yum.
The star of the evening was the black cod in a miso and sweet chilli sauce. Huge flavours. Delicious, but very expensive at just under £17 for a fairly small piece of fish, we could have easily managed one each.
The beef was tender and flavoursome, served with far more sauce than the quantity of meat warranted. It took me back to days of skiing holidays and the whole cook-it-yourself fondue or hot stone experience. Another expensive dish.
We were pleasantly surprised by the creme brulee we shared for pudding, good texture and lots of vanilla, given an Asian twist by the strawberry and lemongrass coulis.
Inamo would be an absolutely perfect place to take a child (can you disable the system so that they cannot order or otherwise cause chaos?), go on a first date or catch up with friends that you have not seen for a while. The novel ordering system provides that ideal distraction that helps with those awkward conversational lulls.
If you choose carefully it is not too expensive, our cocktails and the wildly expensive hot stone steak and the black cod bumped the bill up by about £25 each. Service was prompt and efficient.
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of Inamo.