Inamo, St James’

Conventional restaurants are so overrated… who wants to talk to a waiter when you can communicate electronically from the comfort of your table. It doesn’t take much to excite me so I found my first time trip to concert restaurant Inamo utterly thrilling.

This Oriental fusion restaurant combines tasty food with an interactive experience to create a fun new way of dining out. I have been aware of the excitement surrounding the Soho branch – now a new venue has opened in St James which I went to try last week. The interior initially reminded me of the rainforest café, bright and exotic with a buzz of childlike fun. But Inamo will appeal to adults as well as younger visitors – the food certainly has a sophisticated twist.

We took a seat at an illuminated table, the waiter (who seemed slightly phased by the whole idea) explained the concept to me, indicating the various settings and functions of our mousemat table. As well as browsing the food and drinks menu, guests can change the tablecloth images, play Battleships, watch the live chef cam, check the bill and call a waiter.

I found it all rather stressful choosing food (dishes can be placed and removed from the basket with just one click) – it is all very like online shopping, enticing and dangerous. Eventually we opted for fruit Martinis and a selection of starters. Everything arrived within fifteen minutes: deliciously sweet and succulent Spicy Aubergine, tender and in an addictive sauce, divine Chicken Satay, perfectly marinated meat with an accompanying nutty dip, served sizzling on a hot grill. We also tried the fresh Tomato and Avocado Salad, presented daintily and dressed with an unusual oriental vinaigrette. The cocktails were surprisingly good, though my passion fruit Martini took a while to arrive, just the right blend of sour and sweet, finely mixed and very drinkable.

For mains I couldn’t resist the Red Thai Vegetable Curry with impeccably cooked sticky rice. The curry was unusually thick and chock-a-block full of vegetables but had a lovely flavour and I easily finished my portion! My friend chose the Tamarind Duck Breast with orange, tomato and mazuna salad and tamarind sauce. This dish was more of a salad and arrived (unexpectedly) cold. The lean duck was lovely but needed a little extra seasoning…. we weren’t overly keen on the bizarre dressing which rather overpowered the meat.

It’s rare that I find a whole menu of desserts appealing, especially in oriental cuisine – Inamo have really excelled in presenting an assortment that sounds interesting and alluring. I wanted to try several but checking on our ‘bill button,’ I saw we were reaching a dangerous sum (thanks to the expensive second round of cocktails). Coconut Cheesecake and Thai Basil Pannacotta made the final selection. Both were uniquely oriental infused puddings, the pannacotta was a little odd served with sweet coconut foam and a tuile… I couldn’t help identifying a curry like hint in the creamy dessert that put me off. The cheesecake was a winner though – soft cake with a pleasant biscuit base and delicious contrasting cherry sorbet.

I was reluctant to stop playing Inamo’s games… good food and quirky enjoyment. I can imagine this restaurant is ideal for a fun first date.

Visit the website here for more information.

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