INSO (Pan Asian) – Northwood
A familiar touch of the Orient defines Inso’s smartly decorated restaurant.
It’s bright and spacious with a red, white and black colour scheme.
The limited seating at this pan Asian eatery is comprised of these large and comfortable, black cube seats tucked under quality wooden tables.
The love and affection put into establishing this place is both obvious and quite admirable.
Please note, however, that this place has an alcohol bar.
Looked inviting, but ultimately turned out to be fairly dull. We couldn’t pick up any distinct flavours of fresh fruit here. As such, while the Grape Escape entirely failed to live up to its great name, the High 5 turned out to be a little too sour for one Lion.
Your familiar appetiser! Despite retaining its crunch, this seemed precooked to us.
The sweet and sour sauce was tangy with a hint of spice in the background.
Although the Soya sauce that accompanied this was considered a little too salty by one Lion, the chilli paste in these rolls was manageable and delivered a sweet undertone allowing one to enjoy the crunch of the spring onions along with tuna wrapped in sticky rice.
While the salmon was good, it was elevated in flavour by the addition of a smidgen of Wasabi paste smeared over the top. Despite having a decent enough taste, this was let down by a chewy seaweed exterior, and avocado that gave the entire wrap an unpleasant pasty type texture.
Unfortunately, and as is evident from the pic, the pieces of chicken turned out to be far too dry and, thus, chewy. Nonetheless, the satay sauce was thick and tasty.
Appropriately presented on a dark plate, the fresh, vibrant colours of this impressively looking dragon roll had us quivering in anticipation.
With all the ingredients combining to offer a gentle sweet aftertaste, each piece delivered an intense hit of flavours that revolved around the sweet mayo, the BBQ eel sauce, and the fresh avocado.
In the end, while we loved how the flying fish roe could be felt popping in our mouths re. popping candy, there was no escaping the fact that this was, perhaps owing to the extremely dense and thick nature of the sticky rice, a heavy dish.
We also felt as though it could have done without all that mayo.
This was a delicious little assortment of vegetables.
While the crisp and crunchy tempura carrots, capsico, and slightly oily onions went well with the thick, sweet mayo, we thought the well cooked king prawns went best with the Sesame Soy giving them a nice, tangy kick.
This was something fun. The duck was made up of lots of bits of crispy skin along with both moist and relatively dry flakes of meat.
As such, the secret, we found while building our pancakes, was to seek out the moist morsels and juxtapose them with a good sprinkling of skin, a few strips of lettuce and cucumber, and plenty of that delicious strong Hoi Sin sauce, which left a pleasant licorice type aftertaste.
Not bad, though we’ve had far better.
This Phad Thai was a tasty mixture of textures and flavours that was flavouresome.
A good squeeze of lime was needed to cut through the sweetness of the Tamarind sauce thereby balancing out the overall dish.
This was somewhat underwhelming. The curry base failed to deliver those deep, rich flavours so distinct of a really good Curry Laksa.
It was a pity too, since the tofu was nice and soft, and the prawns well cooked.
Nothing to rave about!
There was a level of uncertainty with this Japanese Ka-re. Though it wasn’t dismissed out of hand, the strong spicy flavour of the thick gravy, which lingers at the back of the throat, did raise some eyebrows.
One Lion said it grew on him, while the other simply wasn’t able to look beyond the realisation that it tasted peculiarly similar to Indian Chaat Masala!
Whatever the case, the chicken fillet was well cooked, and the dish deemed okay.
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As a menu, we'd recommend the Mixed Tempura for a starter, or a Dragon Roll if you're feeling especially peckish; and a Phad Thai for a main.
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Inso Pan Asian Cuisine
8 The Broadway
Joel Street, Northwood Hills, HA6 1PF
Opening Hours: Mon: 12:00-22:30 | Tues CLOSED | Wed: 17:00-22:30 | Thu-Sun: 12:00-23:00
T: +44 (0)1923 518 737 | W: www.insopanasian.co.uk