Located in the middle of Soho, Wardour street is host to Inamo, the oriental fusion restaurant. The decor, although incredibly minimal has a stylishly modern and chic appeal, the monochrome of the white walls and chairs, edged with black borders creates a clean and simplistic finish, juxtaposed by the red snowflake kitsch pattern that garnishes the windows. Tables are lined up literally inches apart and being unfortunate enough to be seated against the back wall, sliding in and out between the tables for necessary bathroom visits, gave my neighbours a discomforting amount of bum in their plates. Due to the proximity of neighbouring tables I was also able to decipher most of their conversation, which in turn they exchanged in whispers.
Like most patrons of Inamo, my partner had been drawn in by Inamo’s unique and innovative concept – the technological self ordering system and ambience selection. Above each table in the restaurant, set in a large white cocoon like lampshade is a projector, the white tables act as the projector screen as well as a touch sensitive, interactive pad. At Inamo, human service is a thing of the past and all ordering takes place through the interaction between your fingers and the hi – tech table. On the touch sensitive table you can scroll through the menu, which displays descriptions, prices and pictures of each meal. In order to make a selection from the menu you tap on the chosen meal, which is then displayed on an orders list, once you have completed your selection, you tap on the order icon and miraculously your order is fed through a system which has your food on the table within fifteen minutes. No doubt it is needless to say, that the food is actually placed on the table by a human being and doesn’t digitally appear as you might expect. As well as your table being an electronic ordering system, it also allows you to modify the colour and pattern display on your table, play games and watch the food being prepared in the kitchen.
For starters we ordered kelp marinated sea bass Sashimi, salmon and avocado Ceviche and a selection of Nigiri, followed by mains of Cinnamon Chicken and Black Face Lamb. Due to the safe, non adventurous nature of chicken and my frequency of consumption of this particular bird when I was younger, I am now adverse to ordering chicken when eating out. Against my better judgement I ordered the cinnamon chicken and was most certainly not impressed. Although having no idea what such a dish might or should taste like, I had imagined the cinnamon would make this dish far more exciting than it had. The chicken lacked taste and most certainly needed a good seasoning or at the least some salt, the cinnamon flavour was barely there and merely added a dark brown crisp to the outer edge of what was already a dry chicken. The Black Face Lamb on the other hand was absolutely divine, seasoned to perfection, succulent, slightly pink and falling off the bone – sadly there wasn’t much of this dish to share to make up for my terrible chicken order.
If you are fond of oriental foods and don’t have a particularly significant appetite or are calorie counting then Inamo is most certainly ideal, the food is fresh, light and the portions are minuscule. Unfortunately Inamo will not be a restaurant I will be dining at again. The hard, slippery chairs, the proximity of the tables and the ordering process most certainly does not lend itself towards comfort and slow dining. In fact, upon arrival I had foolishly assumed that this was a modish fast food restaurant, a voguish Wagamas or Cha Cha Moon. I realised I couldn’t be more wrong once viewing the e-menu, which priced it’s cheapest main dish, a measly plate of vegetables, at eight pounds.
The touch sensitive tables and intelligent projectors are the true stars of this show, sadly, they did not dazzle me enough to offset the dissatisfaction of my meal, my discomfort and a seventy pound bill for two (one glass of wine), which I thankfully was not paying.