THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: Inamo, Camden

Inamo Camden is the fourth branch of the Inamo chain, which describes itself as a pioneering Asian fusion restaurant and bar group. Specifically what the group is pioneering emerges as we are led to our table (worth mentioning they were the best seats in the house with a view straight into the kitchen – request if you can): Inamo has found a point of difference from the many mid-value fusion restaurants in London with an interactive ordering system, developed by sister company Ordano.

Inamo Camden

After an introduction to the restaurant, we are left to play around on the table iPad, and play we did, with everything from the tablecloth to the chef cam (a decent alternative if you don’t land the top table), and most importantly, the menu.

Inamo Camden

Broken down into Sushi, Asian Tapas, Curries, Salads and Inamo Classics, there was a lot to take in, and the opportunity to preview our order and review before clicking send was appreciated.

The menu also included a cocktail list from which we sampled a Passion Fruit Martini and Kyuri Plum Sour, both easy drinking and a refreshing start to the meal. In warmer weather, the Camden branch will make a great destination for afternoon and early evening with its roof terrace, complete with bar, outdoor heaters and attractive view of the surrounding area.

Inamo Camden

Service was fast, arguably a little too so as our table (complete with water lily tablecloth) quickly became laden with the entirety of our dish selection. Once we had decided where to begin, the Yum Buns turned out to be a fun and full flavoured sharing dish, the beef a little tough but the pork and duck delicious with the hoisin sauces and herb salad. The Chicken Karaage, hot, crispy and expertly cooked was decadent and moreish, but the stand out was undoubtedly the Claypot Green Chicken Curry. A stalwart feature on the majority of fusion menus, Inamo’s version didn’t disappoint. Rich, creamy and with the perfect level of spice,  we were close to ordering a second portion – all the more tempting when it can be done in one click.

Inamo Camden

Finding room to squeeze in a dessert, we continued along the evening’s playful  theme with the Chocolate Popping Candy Dipping Sticks. Reflective of the overall Inamo experience, the dish was fun, tasty, perhaps too gimmicky for some discerning diners, but likely to leave you with a smile on your face.

If Camden is a trip too far for you, perhaps give the Covent Garden branch a try – they’re celebrating their first birthday, and until January 12 diners can receive an enticing 25% discount on food AND drink when quoting “anniversary”. Happy dining!

More information and book a table at Inamo Camden here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Miss, Lucy Freedman.

Whaam Banh Mi, Soho

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When Brits return home from Asia, they rave about the street food they tried on their travels… so it seems logical that London’s restaurant scene is working hard to recreate some of the favourite fast food enjoyed so much abroad.

As the name suggests, Whaam Bahn Mi celebrates the Vietnamese sandwiches (‘banh mi’) enjoyed on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. Tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus, this cheerful takeaway café provides the workers of Soho with an exotic lunch offering.

Operating only as a takeaway, this characterful little venue only has a few menu choices. There are five banh mi on offer which can be accompanied by the side salads or fresh summer spring rolls. Founder Tom Barlow spent time in Vietnam researching and trying the authentic banh mi snacks so he could offer the real deal in London.

The fluffy baguettes are filled with the slow-cooked filling of your choice and loaded with pate, pickled shredded carrot and mooli radish, cucumber, coriander, crispy shallots and red chilli. It is a wonderful assortment of flavours and textures. We chose to try the Luc Lac beef brisket and the BBQ shredded pork, though chicken, fishcakes and tofu are also available. Both meats were delicious – tender and rich in flavour thanks to the slow cooking technique. The extras were tasty too, though I found the chicken liver pate a little overpowering. These sandwiches need to be eaten quick – we found after five minutes that the bread became sloppy and was increasingly difficult to eat.

Whaam Banh Mi offers a friendly service and a lovely cultural lunch option for the arty Soho crowd. I’m visiting Vietnam later this year and can’t wait to try a banh mi in its original context.

More information here: www.whaambanhmi.com

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Cooking Classes at School of Wok

Last weekend, after an all-day extravaganza at the BBC Good Food Show – I cannot recommend this highly enough, book your tickets for next year – my intrepid photographer and I embarked on a journey of discovery at the Soho-based School of Wok. Playfully named, there is nothing childish about the undertaking of the chefs/teachers at the helm. Their mission is to teach Asian cuisine to the masses, be it Chinese, Singaporean, or any other regional variation.

We were put through our paces, first with a vegetarian egg-fried noodle dish, with spring onions cut at a “jaunty angle”, as was apparently crucial to the process; then the group split, half tackling the classic beef in black bean sauce, while the others grappled with sea bass. After an excellent demonstration from our resident expert Nev, who guided the group through our magical mystery tour of Asian gastronomy, we were let loose on the woks, more or less one per person, although my cameraman and I teamed up for moral support. Perhaps the most important pieces of kit in the whole kitchen were the industrial-strength extractor fans, crucial for dealing with cooking at the intensely high heat that, Nev informed us, was essential.

One might be forgiven for thinking that the cooking experience was all you had signed up for, but there is an equally enjoyable part of your evening left, once you have completed your cooking masterclass. Once everyone has finished their respective dishes, they are served up and the whole class gather round one of the tables in the front restaurant, and dig in. Nev informed us that our noodles were in fact the tastiest, so we were perhaps a bit robbed by this communal approach, but it is a sociable way to meet your fellow chefs-to-be, who may have been too engrossed in making sure their mushrooms didn’t burn during the cooking segment of the evening.

Nev cracked out a bottle of wine, and we all sampled our neighbours’ contributions to the feast, and soon the table was wok-ing with conversation and good cheer. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to expand his or her cooking repertoire, or if you’re out of ideas for an inventive dinner date. If you’re in the latter category, a trip round the corner to The Experimental Cocktail Bar is an easy way of impressing your companion.

More information here.

http://schoolofwok.co.uk/

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.