Inamo – Interactive Japanese Restaurant

The Restaurant Overview (in their own words)

inamo is a pioneering Oriental fusion restaurant and bar where the control of the dining experience is placed firmly in your hands. Our mission is to provide delicious cuisine with charming and timely service in a warm and vibrant atmosphere.

The Event

An interactive restaurant? A perfect place to make someones Birthday that extra bit special. I booked a table for my housemate/peer/friend at Inamo Restaurant in Soho London. I heard about this restaurant from a friend. This was perfect for my friends Birthday due to him loving everything Japanese and also his love of gadgetry.

Arrival

We finally got the restaurant and got shown to our tables. This was a new experience due to the tables being lit up. We sat and have a quick overview how to operate them (not difficult at all.) Initially I thought the tables were going to be touch screen tables, they were in fact projections on a table and a trackpad in the bottom right corner could be used to operate the interface.

The interface and userbility

As this was a totally different experience to your normal restaurant you never normally have to receive instructions on how to order as its normal just with spoken words. The interface broke everything down really simply, food, side dishes, drink, extras. Pretty easy really. It worked just like a trackpad that you would have on a normal laptop, so most people eating there wouldn’t have a problem. Logistically a better idea than having a touch screen table as if it were to get damaged it would be a lot more expensive to get repaired and in the first place would have been a lot more expensive. The projector on to the table was a surprise to start with, but once I got used to it, it was fine. However my projector wasn’t as bright as the other ones which was annoying but not that much of a problem.

Ordering

A really nice concept, searching through the menu and a visual of the meal projected on your plate, what a good idea! Really straight forward navigation, simply click the dishes you like and they are then compiled into a list at the bottom with a big button under which you press once you have selected everything you wanted. Easy!

Options

There was plenty to do on the table besides ordering such as customising the desktop background. From changing colours to putting graphics in a variety of colours or setting the option to change every 2 minutes. This was a nice touch as you had control of creating the atmosphere, to some extent. There was an option also to view a camera of the kitchen, which was a good idea but not that necessary and also the quality wasn’t that amazing so you couldn’t see what was going on that easily, just a bit of a gimmick really. There were also games you could play such as battleships with the person opposite, a nice idea, however I prefer to have conversation rather than getting absorbed into digital play.

Music

The one thing that let the atmosphere down in the restaurant was the music, not that it was bad it was just rather loud for eating to, it felt like we we’re in a club.

Experience

The whole experience was really nice. Good food, good atmosphere, good company. The food was delicious, even though that had nothing to do with the table itself!

Verdict

One of the main reasons that I did not mention was to see if I could see a future for interactive restaurants. It was a really good experience but it something I can’t see hitting off. There were waiters on call which we used to ask for certain things directly so in some ways it made the tables obsolete. I think that more restaurants may exist like this in the future, but the majority will always have human beings in control.

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