With its alluring menu that features unconventional robatayaki Japanese, it’s no wonder that Carnaby’s latest Japanese opening has been well-received. We chat to Head Chef, Hamish Brown, on the unique dining experience that is INKO NITO.
To an impressive and modern restaurant space at 55 Broadwick Street comes a new take on traditional Japanese food, with a menu by Hamish Brown created to tantalise your taste buds.
INKO NITO is an open plan venue with communal tables, good music and a chilled-out atmosphere, with the robata grill taking centre stage. It’s the kind of place where you can while away an evening with friends over food and cocktails or nip in for a quick bite at lunchtime and remain incognito.
Brown, who originates from New Zealand, grew up around cooking (his dad being a chef), and further developed his love of cooking while working alongside chef Peter Gordon, whom he describes as ‘the godfather of fusion cooking,’ at another restaurant in London. He says: “We needed somewhere big enough to have a robata grill (a Japanese barbecue often found in pubs in Japan) in the middle of the restaurant. This location was perfect, and the layout lends itself to the whole food-sharing concept. Japanese food in London has become very generic, so we wanted to create something new and different with a street market feel, and food with action-packed, big and bold flavours.”
Brown has steered away from traditional techniques and Japanese ingredients and has introduced new products that really suit this kind of cooking, such as beef cheeks with spicy Korean miso, pickled daikon and butter lettuce. The flavours are indeed amazing!
Another firm favourite is the cobia collar, which is taken from the neck of a black compachi fish. “It’s usually a by-product, but it’s a very delicious piece and we cook it on the robata grill with brown butter ponzu,” explains Brown. “It’s a very firm and slightly oily white fish, similar to tuna, and it’s really delicious.” Brown and his other cooks used to have it for breakfast before they started work but then realised it tasted too good to be used for that.
Brown says that Japanese restaurants in London tend to be either very top-end with premium products, or more casual and takeaway-focused. “Our mission was to find a spot in the middle where we can become more accessible to everyday dining.” Mission accomplished.
In addition to the meat and fish on the menu, there are some great vegetarian options, such as the grilled aubergine with garlic lemon miso and spring onions. On top of the superb food, there’s Japanese sake, beer, and a fine wine selection, as well as INKO NITO’s unique cocktails, such as the Takara Collins, with vodka, shisho shochu, citrus cordial and soda. Fine dining and drinking, and fun times to be had by all.
If you can’t wait to sample Brown’s mouth-watering food, grab a copy of the Carnaby Magazine Issue 4, where you’ll find an exclusive INKO NITO recipe for Baby gem salad with caramelised onion wafu dressing and nori.
Pick up your free copy in Carnaby stores and restaurants now, or read it online here.
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