Last night I went to Inamo restaurant in St. James near Piccadilly. Having been to its sister branch in Soho some time ago I knew what to expect in terms of its trademark interactive dining experience, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the beautiful décor and excellent service. As we entered we noticed a sign in the window proclaiming the restaurant to be ‘the best first date experience – as voted by Match.com’ – high praise indeed.
Upon arrival at Inamo one waiter takes your coat as another leads you past the swanky bar to your table. Different areas of the restaurant are sectioned off by tall bamboo poles, and at the far end is a feature wall with water trickling down in a waterfall effect, which adds to the exotic atmosphere. Once seated the waiter talks you through the ordering process – all food and drink is ordered through your table, which is effectively a giant computer screen. Each person has their own controls, and in addition to food and drink there are ‘added extras’ including a choice of virtual tablecloth, various games and a ‘chef cam’ giving you a view into the kitchen as your food is prepared. If you fancy going to a play after you’ve dined or need a cab home this can also be arranged at the touch of a button.
The interactive element of Inamo is what makes it so unique, but it could also be seen as somewhat of a gimmick. Fortunately the owners have pitched it just right; there are enough interactive elements to keep you occupied and entertained but they are very much a nice ‘add-on’ to the dining experience rather than a full-on assault of the senses. Which is as it should be, because the real star of the show is not the table but the food.
Inamo serves a delicious array of Japanese fusion food, with last night’s culinary treats including sushi and chicken satay starters, red Thai curry and miso salmon as mains and vanilla crème brulee for dessert. All agreed the stand out dish of the night was the pork belly with chocolate and chilli sauce, which defies description and must be tasted to be believed (but trust me, you won’t regret ordering it, it’s simply divine).
The cherry on the top of our meal was discovering the ‘three course for £20’ deal they currently have on included a glass of wine – that, and the delicious cocktail menu. As we rolled ourselves out of the door and were reminded of the award from Match.com, we could quite see why Inamo would be such a great first date venue. After all, if you didn’t like the company you could always busy yourself with choosing the tablecloth or playing a game – or just order a cab home…