photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Theme parks are amazing. They’re big, they’re loud, and they’re full of exciting attractions. On paper, this is just what Inko Nito sounds like. It’s a huge restaurant with an open kitchen, a banging soundtrack, cocktails on tap, and a big ol’ robata grill. Plus it’s right in the middle of Soho. Sounds exciting right?
Well, not so fast. You need to know whether coming here might feel a bit like preparing for a fully catered weekender at world rollercoaster capital, Six Flags Magic Mountain, only to end up at Drayton Manor on a cold drizzly Tuesday. Sure, you still might ride the Buffalo Coaster, but it’s not quite Tatsu.
On first glance, the menu at Inko Nito looks like it’s got few decent rides in store, but the food can be a bit hit and miss. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make the trip here. It’s actually a fine place to go, not least because it’s very cool. It’s a huge space, with a modern, industrial feel, and most of the seating surrounds the shiny grill. It’s an impressive set-up, and all the sizzling and abstract angles of the counters make things feel a bit more exciting than they might if you were judging the place solely on the food. So, while it might not be the best example of Asian cooking in London, it is plenty good enough to get out of the house for. Whisky-glazed pork belly, and marinated bone marrow from the robata are especially good, and both go well with the panko and parmesan crunch of the grilled cauliflower, or some fresh, zingy salads.
It’s mostly set-up for small-groups and walk-ins, but it’s at its best when you make a reservation for a group dinner or a messy work meal. The kind where you’re sharing everything, where you can order with freedom, trying a bit of everything, safe in the knowledge that it’s not going to get too expensive.
When it comes down to it, you’re going to Inko Nito for the lively atmosphere, and relaxed and friendly service. It’s one of the more casual and fun spots in Soho, and you could do worse than riding the dodgems here. Just don’t expect ten consecutive inverted loops and a triple corkscrew.
Black Kampachi Sashimi
This is a mizuma salad dressed with pomelo ponzu, and crispy pieces of garlic. It’s zingy, it’s fresh, and it’s really good.
Portland Crab Tartare
This salad has a fishy kick that you will still be able to taste by dessert. It’s decent, but not a must order.
These are well cooked, but don’t taste of much. You’ll need a heavy squeeze of lime if you’re going to get excited about them.
Panko Fried Chicken
Maybe it’s because our expectations of chicken are lower than our expectations of shrimp, but there’s nothing wrong with these crispy chicken strips. Meanwhile, everything about the chilli mayo they’re served with is right.
This is a satisfying side, and it goes well with most of the meatier dishes.
This lot served with smoked soy and garlic would make a hunter out of even the most committed meat-hater.
The pork belly is glazed in whisky, and there’s a little chilli spice. It feels rich and indulgent.
The menu lists ingredients including ume-boshi, green chilli, mint, and sansho. We thought they’d blow our minds. They didn’t. Not bad though.
The garlic and lemon glaze on these with salty soy makes this one of the meatiest, richest non-meat dishes going. It’s brilliant, and your table is naked without it.
A robata grilled cauliflower served with parmesan and panko crunch. It’s an epiphany of a dish. So simple. So satisfying. You’ll never look at a cauliflower and be bored again.
Charred Coconut Soft Serve
If this was just a cup of soft serve we’d have been happy. But they dressed it up with granola and pocky. It’s worth coming to Inko Nito just for this brilliant £5 dessert.