Tired of your partner prattling on about his or her job? Bored of your friends discussing their new baby/dog/dentist? Waiting staff fill you with a mixture of revulsion and disgust? Thank goodness for Inamo.
Opening their second restaurant on Lower Regent Street, the pan-Asian eatery has a rather unique selling point. No, not the Oriental fusion of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean flavours. No, not the pleasingly swanked-but-easy-going surrounds. Their USP is the large supercomputer your dinner comes served on.
You see, unlike a traditional restaurant where you speak to people, Inamo places a computerised table in front of all its guests which will care for your every need. Want to order a dish? Just click and BOOM! – you’ll soon have it. Want some pretty flowers as the backdrop to your table? BOOM! Want to check out the map to see how far it will be to walk to the pub afterwards? BOOM! Want to play a game of Battleships (both alone or with the idiot you wish you hadn’t brought)? DOUBLE BOOM! I have just literally sank your Battleship and ordered some nigiri at the same time.
Before they go, most people, like me, will probably be a little cynical about spending a meal interacting with an inanimate plank. After all, I have friends that offer that experience (snap!). However, once you sit down it is actually great fun. So much so that I nicknamed my table BRIAN, and to his credit he was responsive, informative and not at all sticky. Unlike some waiting staff I’ve met.
Unfortunately, I did still have to interact with fleshy humans from time to time. In fact, one approached me before I ordered to ask if BRIAN and I were ok. Frankly, we were getting on just fine before he interrupted. But BRIAN insisted I be civil. This was wise, as said fleshy human was also responsible for bringing out the food once ready – and to be fair it arrived quickly. Good call BRIAN. Good call.
So, the food. The smaller dishes I tried were all very tasty. Baby crispy prawns with Thai mango relish, yellow tail sashimi with soy truffle and sea bass with mango, soy mirin (a kind of rice wine) and togarashi (chilli) all went down well at £6.75 each.
As for the larger plates, the steak and mushroom hot plate (whose listing and price seems to elude the online menu) was a little bland, with a steak done under the medium I requested. Much better to go for the hot stone rib eye (£17.25) which was more flavoursome, with a buttery texture, accompanied with a triumvirate of hot&sour, soy and truffle sauces. However, beware that, despite the price, it comes alone, so you may need an extra side dish. BRIAN failed to warn me of this, I might add.
Recommended but miniature desserts would be the coconut cheesecake with sour cherries/sorbet (£5.75) and the Pandan macaroon with white chocolate mousse (£5.75).
Overall, food fares well at Inamo. But what elevates the whole place – as much as I hate to admit this – is the interactive ordering process which, ironically, will give all of you and your friends something to talk about.
Inamo, St James
4-12 Lower Regent Street
Tel: 020 7484 0500