The restaurant scene in Soho has certainly changed over the years, and I’ve seen many establishments come and go during my time in London, since I moved to the big smoke over a decade ago – how time flies! Many venues have undeniably taken a hit with the recent pandemic, but thankfully there are those that have pulled through, including one that I’ve been wanting to visit for a while.
Ideally situated in the heart of Soho, INKO NITO on Broadwick Street first opened its doors in May 2018; a casual Japanese restaurant that is known to serve robatayaki Japanese fare and sushi with a contemporary flair, combined with a laid-back setting.
Open for all-day dining, we booked in for a late lunch slot on a weekend, seated at the counter that gave us front row seats of the open-grill, where all the action happens. Unlike some counter dining venues where the seating can be quite narrow and restrictive, there was thankfully ample space in between each seat to allow us to enjoy our meal in comfort.
The menu is extensive and left us spoilt for choice; it starts off with a selection of smaller dishes such as snacks & salads, sashimi, maki rolls, hot & fried dishes, before extending on to larger robata meat, fish and vegetable options, cooked fresh on the charcoal grill. They usually recommend about 3-4 dishes per person, but if it is your first time visiting like is was for us, I would highly recommend opting for the tasting menu option, where you get to taste about 13 different dishes from the menu, including some of their most popular dishes.
As a toast to another glorious sunny weekend, we began with a couple of cocktails from their innovative drinks menu which all sounded really intriguing; I began with the Palomita which was a sakura infused tequila with lime, pink grapefruit & agave. I’m always partial towards a Negroni, so of course I had to try their Ichigo Negroni after we had finished our first round of drinks; made with gin, plum sake, Merlet strawberry & Campari. Anything with plum sake is always up my street. My dining companion ordered the INKO Spritz, made up of watermelon, Aperol, yuzu & sparkling wine – like summer in a glass.
Our first round of dishes included a selection of snacks and small plates to share. Edamame is always one of my favourite snacks to nibble on, seasoned with ginger soy & sea salt, and the yellowtail sashimi had a nice tang from the grapefruit & citrus dressing, topped with Japanese leaves. The trio of sashimi included tuna, yellowtail & salmon, whilst the crab & salmon tartare was accompanied by crispy shichimi rice crackers. There was also spicy tuna tempura, topped with chilli mayo & chives, that were really moreish. Even though the tasting menu itself is already pretty substantial, we could not resist from ordering the beef truffle sandos. Melt-in-your-mouth braised beef sandwiched between a crispy taco-like wrap, levelled up with finely grated truffle cheese AND fresh black truffle – we could have easily devoured each in one mouthful, but chose to savour the flavours with small nibbles.
Next up was a crispy and golden Japanese breadcrumb fried chicken with a peanut, chilli garlic & yoghurt sauce on the side for dipping. The chicken yakitori was tender and well-marinated, served with some extra teriyaki sauce on the side which we hungrily doused our skewers in. I was particularly fond of the steamed prawn & leek dumplings, accompanied by a ginger ponzu which complemented the flavours.
Moving on to more heartier dishes, the beef cheek had been slow-cooked to perfection and was easily cut through with a spoon, which we wrapped in the butter lettuce leaves, finished off with some Korean miso and pickled daikon. The salmon fillet was cooked just right, the texture smooth and gently flaked when cut through, glazed with a ruby grapefruit sauce & some sansho salt on the side. There were also a couple of vegetarian dishes that we enjoyed as part of the menu; tenderstem broccoli with onion wafu, and a delicious grilled aubergine seasoned with garlic lemon miso & spring onions. Always hungry for more, we also ordered an extra dish to add on to our meal; the bone marrow seasoned with smoked soy, which we spread generously on the garlic toast, the thinly sliced shallots helped to cut through the richness.
Finishing on a sweet note, we were served their decadent INKO cheesecake. Rich and creamy, it had a buttery crumble base that added a nice contrasting texture, garnished with fresh strawberries – the perfect way to end our meal on a high.
The tasting menu is priced at £49.50 per person which is good value for money, and if you have a big appetite like myself, there’s always the option of ordering extras from the main menu. After an impressive first visit, I’m definitely tempted to head back soon to try the rest of the menu, as well as to revisit some of the stand-out dishes that we tried. Reservations can be made via OpenTable , where you can also to discover more exciting restaurants around Soho and beyond.
- My lunch experience was complimentary, in partnership with OpenTable – views and photos are my own.