Pan-Asian restaurant chain Inamo is like something out of a segment from Tomorrow's World,
all wireless and interactive, and stuffed to the brim with gadgets. You can order your dinner on an iPad, or change your digital "tablecloth" with the click of a button. Your table can even transform into a game of pong while your wait. Is it gimmicky? A little. But it's super fun.
We were offered the choice between a two-seater or four-seater table on arrival. Being well-mannered, we took the former. This was a mistake. If you're offered big, go big. You'll need the room, because Inamo's speciality is tapas-style small plates that come out as soon as their ready - meaning before you know it you've got a table-full of food and nowhere to put your elbows. Especially if, like us, you foolishly order everything you want at once. Pace and space - words to remember at Inamo.
Our cocktails were pretty forgettable, sadly. Granted, we only had one each - I went for the Sake Mojhito while my date had a passion fruit martini - but the success of a cocktail should be measured in how much it makes you want another one. I did not want another one.
The food, however, is a different story. We kicked off with a "sushi bagel" - super-fresh slices of raw tuna, salmon, (cooked) king prawns and avocado, layered over rice - and maki stuffed with tempura prawns and apple. Both were delicious, but, as is the way with sushi, you end up eating a deceptively large amount of rice across the two starters. So pick one - the latter, containing cooked fish, is better for sushi novices - to share.
The absolute standouts of the night were the sea bream in red pepper sauce and the hot stone fillet. The fish was delicate, fragrant and flaked apart in your mouth, letting the aromas it had absorbed from the gorgeous red pepper sauce to dance about your palette before swallowing. The fillet steak was thinly sliced and only sealed in the kitchen, giving you the chance to watch it sizzle on your own personal hot stone at the table. Fillet this well-prepared melts in your mouth, and feels incredibly indulgent. It came with three different sauces, but honestly it felt disrespectful to the steak to put anything on it. The seabass was £17.95 while the fillet was £19.95, so not suitable for every budget, but absolutely worth the cost if you can.
"Fun buns" were a sociable addition to the table. Comprised of steamed buns and a choice of duck, beef or chicken - plus three delicious sauces, you build them up yourself like you would tacos at home. Getting tactile with your food always makes the experience more memorable, so these, plus the cook-it-yourself fillet steak, really helped bring the meal to life. We finished off with strawberries, brownies and marshmallows dipped in chocolate and popping candy. Get a big bowl of Singapore noodles to accompany dishes that don't come with sides (one between two is plenty).
The latest addition to the Inamo family is bound to do well, with an ideal location and enough technological bells and whistles to intrigue passers by. The food absolutely measures up, but the experience as a whole can be a little overwhelming. The snazzy tables and interactive ordering will give even the most awkward of dates conversation fodder, but they'd probably become a bit distracting when catching up with old friends over dinner. That's not to say Inamo isn't worth a try - the food's brilliant and at £129 for three courses and a bottle of wine, it's decently-priced - it's just not a restaurant for every occasion.
Find Inamo at 265 Hampstead Road, London Nw1 7QX, and visit the restaurant's website here.