Chopstick tots: the best Asian kids menus in London reviewed
Words: Pendle Harte
Any parents battling against screens at the table must make a point of avoiding Inamo. Because here the table literally is a screen. Yes: the entire table is a blank canvas onto which images are projected, and a clever trackpad allows diners to control them. So click on ‘draw’ and you can draw all over the table – including the plates – and then click again to have it all magically wiped, replaced with a series of games, or a virtual tablecloth,
Or even a sneak peek into the kitchen via webcam. Depending on your perspective, this is either a wonderful opportunity to eat while remaining glued to a device or a nightmare in which even mealtimes are dominated by the flickering glare of technology. But don’t assume the place is crawling with children – there are some family groups, but mostly there are grown-ups here (many of them have simply switched the screen off). Ordering from the lengthy Asian mash-up menu via iPad – complete with photographs of each dish – is simple but fairly time-consuming, though there is a human waiter option too. The children enjoy their three course menu (£9.95), whose options include sushi rolls, crispy seafood, Korean chicken wings, chicken satay, Singapore noodles and other favourites, followed by an amazing pudding of chocolate dipping sticks, which ticked all the boxes for being messy, chocolatey and marshmallowey while incorporating liberal quantities of popping candy. The adult menu is extensive: we particularly enjoyed black cod, baby pork ribs and yuzu miso aubergine, which was so deliciously sweet that any child would have adored it, if they could have been persuaded to try it, which ours couldn’t.
The vedict: It may be gimmicky, but it would be a rare child who didn’t love eating off a screen. The food’s pretty good too.
Inamo, 265 Hampstead Road, NW1
Restaurant-going children have come to expect activity sheets complete with crayons, stickers, puzzles and more as compensation for having to sit quietly at tables in public. Happily, at Busaba, the activity sheets are winners, with their foodie wordsearch and clever, time-consuming Where’s Wally-style illustration quiz. And what child doesn’t love a prawn cracker? There’s a starter, main course and drink for £5.90 – plus ice cream (with popping candy, naturally) for £1.75. Starters are either prawn crackers or slices of cucumber – you’d think everybody would choose the crackers, but our daughter, amazingly, didn’t – while main courses offer chicken pad Thai, chicken fried rice and satay chicken, or battered chicken/fish for the less adventurous. Bottles of crisp Asahi quench our thirst while the children pore over the wordsearch, and we enjoy curries and sticky rice at leisure.
The verdict: Not too adventurous, but winning dishes for little ones make this a reliable stop. Busaba Eathai Various locations.
Read more restaurant reviews at www.absolutely-mama.co.uk