Inamo St James
Restaurant in London
On entering what appeared to be a tranquil bamboo forest with a Japanese garden and water features – a sanctuary from the city – my friend and I were immediately greeted with the aromas of a spicy pan-Asian banquet.
We have entered Inamo St. James Restaurant, just a two minute walk from Piccadilly Circus, to delight our taste buds with an eclectic oriental menu that promises to expertly fuse culinary influences from Japan, China, Thailand, and Korea.
The food isn’t the only experience on offer here; we’re super-hyped to try the novel “interactive ordering system”, a technological advancement in restauranteering and pioneered by Inamo owners Danny Potter and Noel Hunwick; two Oxford University graduates who were frustrated at failing to get waiter attention for service when eating out.
Once seated, a waiter explains that “all the tables are fitted with an overhead projector which beams down an illustrated menu onto the surface of your table. It has a touch-sensitive panel, so you simply move this cursor with your fingertips to select your desired dish or drink, like so, ok?” Wow, the projected full-size images of dishes make the food appear as though it’s already on your table and ready to eat. After a short master class on how to order via our table's projected navigation and how to call for help, my friend and I use only our fingertips for the rest of the evening. No need for waiter interaction other than for the delivery of ordered food to our table.
We get cracking and order small plates to share; crispy five spiced pork belly, miso grilled sea bass, pork Fuji apple steamed dumplings; all richly flavoured and beautifully textured. For our mains, the vegetarian buri bop, a traditional Japanese rice dish serviced on a hot plate with seasonal vegetables, and the black cod, marinated in a spicy miso, look particularly delicious. Click, click and they’re ordered. What a novel and efficient ordering system.
“Shall we order more of the dumplings and sea bass?” My friend asks, her mouth already stuffed with food – clearly we’re getting a little fanatical with the fun ordering. Our fingertips have never before had so much control.
“Let’s just order drinks.” I advise and flick through the extensive drinks menu featuring Asian wine, sake, beer, fruity cocktails and tea. Our choices are the Sake Martini and the more unusual Inamo cocktail with zesty mandarin puree, Smirnoff black and a spicy chilli.
Whilst waiting for our food, we play a game of Battleship, spy on the chef using the ‘Chef Cam’ to get some live action from the kitchen, and change the virtual look of our table by selecting digital tablecloths to complement our mood – all controlled via the surface of our table. The bill – split however you want it, a taxi, theatre tickets and plenty more can be ordered at a touch.
You might also like to try the original Inamo Restaurant at 134-135 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1F 8ZP. Tel: +44(0)20 7851 7051. The closest Tube station is Oxford Circus on the Central, Victoria and Bakerloo Lines.
Liz Tecirli is a freelance travel writer based in London specialising in adventure travel, extreme sports and luxury breaks.
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Need to book||Advisable|
|Dietary Requirements Accommodated||Yes|
|Clientele||Londoners & visitors to the city|
|Restaurant good for||Bar scene, Large groups, Meeting up with friends|
|Cost per head||Medium|
|Dining Options||Lunch, Dinner|
Very Asian almost jungle feel, surrounded by bamboo with a Japanese garden on the back wall.
Crispy five spiced pork belly £7.95; miso grilled sea bass £7.50; pork Fuji apple steamed dumplings £4.25; vegetarian buri bop £13.25; black cod marinated in a spicy miso £16.95. Sake Martini £7.50; Inamo cocktails from £7.50.
Last updated on 06-03-2013