You might expect a Japanese robata-grill venue from the team behind Zuma and Rokato exude an air of starchy exclusivity, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that Inko Nito is a restaurant for all. The dress code is relaxed, the young staff are chatty and friendly, and there are even high chairs to seat toddlers with a taste for edamame.
The setting is a stylish, post-industrial dining room with plenty of shiny wood and slate. Action is centred around the aforementioned robata grill and its wraparound dining counter, though you’ll also find some standalone tables. Due to the snazzy design, there is thankfully (and unusually) adequate space between diners. Small plates from the kitchen vie on the menu with slightly larger meat, fish and veg dishes from the grill. We’d recommend ordering six to eight dishes between two – but prepare for a hefty bill at the end.
From the small plates, slinky salmon teriyaki dressed in a lightly spicy wasabi ponzu and butter-soaked lettuce is an impressive dish – so too the moreish fried shrimp served with a tongue-tingling Korean miso (a peppering of Korean ingredients spice up the menu). The more substantial grill dishes include lusciously fatty cubes of pork belly finished with a boozy Japanese whisky glaze, and strips of crispy panko-fried chicken dipped in a thick chilli and yoghurt sauce. Not everything sang on our visit though: an attempted reinvention of prawn toast turned the salty, crispy classic into a rather chewy concoction. No complaints, though, about the decent selection of saké, wine and cocktails on the drinks list, or the postprandial fortune cookies that conceal cheeky messages.
With its slick look and neat collection of popular dishes, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a major roll-out of Inko Nito (the brand also has an outlet in LA). Watch this space.