Restaurant review: INCA, London

INCA London restaurant review
Tim Firmager
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INCA, a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus, in London’s Soho district, boasts a hot and camp dinner and show, but comes with a price tag. We were offered a review booking to try the food, cocktails and experience the show.

INCA

Being honest we had not heard of INCA before, and it’s very easy to miss, being next-door to – and therefore overshadowed by – the Palladium Theatre. However, having booked a table, and passed the dress code (no sweatpants or trainers – dress smartly), we descended, via an Instagram spot halfway down the stairs, to a cavernous, luxurious venue.

We were given the opportunity to pause for coat check, and then were shown to our table, next to the stage. The design throughout (from the menus, to interior design – even the artwork in the bathrooms, and of course the show) draws on different elements from South American including Mayan Hieroglyphs, rich artworks and photographs, and a warm colour palette with luxurious gold touches throughout. With the stage in front of you, there is an air of excitement and anticipation about the show to come – more on that below.

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Staff are all dressed flawlessly, and readily available to take orders, and explain menu and drink concepts. Staff on the evening of our visit were proactive in ensuring every table has a good time – the INCA team have curated stylish and polished service.

Nativo menu

The Nativo menu reflects the South American inspiration, with ceviche’s from Peru to tostadas inspired by Guatemala and Mexico, and some Maki and sushi options thrown in for good measure.

We sampled a variety across the menu, starting with the Tempura shrimp dragon Maki (£32) with Peruvian mango, avocado, pickled chilli, and eel sauce. The centre was soft and melted in our mouths, with a delicious contrast of the crispiness from the prawn. We barely noticed the mango flavour however.

Next up were the Tuna tostada (£28) made with guacamole, truffle ponzu, wasabi tobiko. This lit up all our taste buds, and was our favourite item on the menu. The flavour combination was perfection and honestly could eat plate after plate of these Tuna tostadas. Inca, does your kitchen do Deliveroo too?

The Hamachi Ceviche (£42) served with sweet potato, choclo (Peruvian corn) and tiger milk dressing alongside a few other items that burst with flavour in your mouth. This dish was a real taste experience to match the show.

As a main dish, we had the Hot pot chilean seabass (£65) basted in teriyaki and served on spicy coriander rice, charred tomato salsa and a champagne butter sauce. With a side of truffle chips (£14) and simple salad of field greens, avocados and sesame-soy dressing (£12). Perfectly cooked, with the glaze just burnished on the edges, all the flavours worked really well and we would highly recommend.

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For dessert, we shared the Trés Leché’s (£26) – a vanilla sponge soaked in milk and served with mascarpone cream and chocolate ice cream. A slightly unusual concept for those thinking of a vanilla sponge, but this was delicate in flavour and helped to calm down our palettes after an intense flavour journey.

The cocktail menu is hedonistic and exotic. Expect to pay at least £20 per cocktail, but expect to be impressed. Of the four we tried below, the Lemon balm was our favourite for flavour profile and the Humo de Manzana for its presentation under a smoky dome.

  • Lemon balm (£20) mixed with Tanqueray London Dry gin, Limoncello, Lemon verbena tea, Lemongrass, tonic and citrus oils.
  • Toque de Mandarina (£21) mixed with Pisco Barstool, tangerine sherbet, citrus, tonka bean, mandarin bitters and egg white.
  • Humo de Manzana (£22) served under apple wood smoke, and mixed with Bulleit bourbon, Hennessy VSOP, Drambuie, sweet cascara, and black walnut
  • Hemingway’s breakfast club (£22) mixed with Santiago de Cuba Blanca, velvet falernum, tawny organe, pink grapefruit, and rubino reserve.

The show

The performance is MC’d by Jacques Vidal, who ensures camp and comedy runs throughout the show, intermixed with some steamy dances and beautiful, live music. We really eased into the fantasy of the evening, enthralled and almost hypnotised particularly by the male dancers. The performances are changed up regularly so expect something slightly different, but there is always a small element of audience participation – in our case joining a conga line around the stage. The dances are definitely inspired by South American influences and imbues a sense of joie-de-vivre.

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We intentionally haven’t included many photos from the show as we don’t want to give too much away, and because it changes up – but check out our social media for a few snippets of what to expect.

Overall thoughts

INCA is an indulgent night out. This is an expensive data night (expect to pay at least £150 per person), but the quality of the food, cocktails, service, and alluring and camp Nativo show will leave you feeling like you got excellent value.

Of all the menu items, we highly recommend the tostadas to eat and the Lemon Balm cocktail.

INCA is open Wednesday to Sundays, with the first show of the evening starting at 8pm.

INCA is located at: 8-9 Argyll St, London W1F 7TF

For more information and to book (essential), visit incalondon.com.

About Tim Firmager

Tim divides his time being a Digital Consultant in The City and as a food and travel writer across the globe. When he's not working as one of the Lifestyle Editors here at Vada, he's planning his next trip, or on the lookout for the latest food crazes or unusual foods in London's markets.

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