Saturday, 3 September 2011

Digital Dining

As a self-confessed foodie, the concept behind Inamo, the futuristic restaurant on Regent Street, seemed too good to resist. Here was an interactive dinner invitation- instead of crisply tailored waiters, the table and menu  are electronic- with an image of each dish projected onto your clean white plate from above. At the click of a button, your order is placed. Minutes later, a waiter materialises from nowhere to serve your food before quietly retreating. No fuss, no embarrassing arm waves to grab the waiter’s attention- just pure restaurant magic. Sure, the whole dining experience is reduced to being somewhat impersonal, and our silent waiter didn’t really merit a large tip, but who really cares when you can play battleships at the table? It was like eating on a giant iPad- fun, a winning novelty. We set the ambience (during the course of the meal, our ‘tablecloth’ went through numerous changes as we played around, from psychedelic swirls of purple and green to more serene images of lakes and snow-covered forests) and, when conversation lagged, there was sneaky “chef cam”- a voyeuristic peek at the kitchen. Handy if you want to check the hygiene standards, not so great when you happen to catch two chefs mid-argument. Digital dining aside, the food itself is actually quite good. I was worried it would turn out to be like Yo Sushi, novelty service yet mediocre food. Instead, the food is a fusion of Pan-Asian flavours, with dishes that include hot stone rib eye steak, black cod and miso-grilled seabass. It isn’t quite Nobu but is delicious nonetheless (although watch out for the insanely spicy Thai beef salad which definitely knocked out my tastebuds). Given that the portions were tiny, the menu is perhaps a little overpriced (something the food does share in common with Nobu after all). The bill aside, however, Inamo is definitely worth a visit purely for its kitsch eating experience. The clever table can even order you a taxi. Just be careful when you excitedly play with all the buttons as we accidentally ended up with a few extra dishes... 

Inamo St James on Urbanspoon

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