Review: iNDO

7 May 2022

I had been planning this return weekend overnighter to St Louis for awhile now, with the priority of catching the performance by violin great Akiko Suwanai at the St Louis Symphony Orchestra. Sadly, a COVID outbreak within the symphony kiboshed those plans at the last minute, so will have to go without hearing her magnificent rendition of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1, as well as the underrated Symphony No 1 by Mahler.

But with a hotel room prepaid, I decided to just go down anyway, as I needed a weekend away after a rather crazy week at work. Isn’t it all crazy these days? Sigh… Looped around on another route that took me across the river at Louisiana (Missouri) and went slowly into the STL-area early afternoon. It was already getting warm…

But when I had planned my weekend earlier, I had already made a booking at highly-regarded iNDO — albeit at a very early hour (to accommodate my concert plans). I nevertheless got there as they opened at 5pm, and it was already quite busy. A good sign?

I was a little hesitant about tonight, having been burned at Hinata in Indianapolis. I chose to sit at the counter when I saw Chef-owner Nick Bognar working there. A good move. I relaxed and chatted with my friendly server and Chef, and ordered some stuff to start. I’m not all that much of a fan of the 2-hour ticking clock, but when dining solo it’s relatively easy — especially when much of the food is made to order in front of you.

I ordered a set of nigiri and it actually began to appear before my cocktail, as Chef Bognar got to work quickly. The hamachi wasn’t bad at all, nor was the saba.

The latter was a little light for my taste, cured in-house for a day, but that’s just because I miss the absolutely intense mackerel prep I used to get in Japan. And finally, some toro.

Quite good, but the first piece was extremely fibrous, which is always a possibility with this. But so far so good. And my cocktail had arrived just before the saba, so enjoyed all of this to start. Nice.

I nursed my cocktail a little before switching into wine. I had put in some hot food order as they bussed my sushi plates, and soon the first arrived — fried tofu.

This was delicious, done perfectly — crispy outside, soft inside. Lovely with the black bean sauce too. Shows this kitchen is quite good too. Then some ribs…

Delicious, sweet without it being overpowering, the meat done perfectly without it falling off the bone. Reminds me of the ribs my friend and business partner Chef Akhtar Nawab did back in our beloved Elettaria…

Another excellent dish, is my St Louis curse being lifted? I’ve always had trouble finding food that blew me away here that wasn’t BBQ, and after over a dozen trips this may be the best dinner I’ve had in this town.

I was chatting with Chef a little and he ended up comping me this kinmedai, which was quite nice of him. Good, but the various Japanese breams never really resonated with me. But I decided to switch back and have another set, and Chef Bognar got to work alongside his assistants as it was getting busy.

The set arrived and it looked good. First was hotate, which was pretty good.

A nice little treat from Hokkaido. Then we have some seared hamachi belly.

Delicious, perhaps even better than the raw one I had earlier. The torching was done quite well here by the assistant chef. Then finally, some Santa Barbara uni.

I chose these over the Hokkaido ones partly due to price, but also I think SB ones are as good in a different way, and after a night of eating various dishes it worked better. And it was quite nice, the first urchin I’ve had since I came out to the Midwest perhaps, and my eyes got watery…

This was an excellent night, and since I am not rushing for the door for the symphony, and the bar wasn’t filling totally up yet as it was a lot of reservations rolling over, I had a little more time. Reverted to a cocktail…

Oh, I didn’t have 2, just a composite of my first and this… But I still had time, and the weather demanded it…

Ice cream on a warm day, whisky in one hand, black coffee in another. This was a wonderful way to end the evening, albeit it was just after 7pm. I was spent, after this long week. But what a wonderful treat to end it on — and my St Louis curse has officially been broken!

I thanked Chef and the wonderful staff for the awesome service. It was definitely not inexpensive here especially if you go nigiri, but it was not as high as Hinata and the food was so much better. I’m more than happy to spend my limited funds if a night goes as well as this, so I walked out the door extremely happy.

Ah, if it wasn’t for the cancelled symphony this would have been a perfect evening…

Highly recommended!

1641D Tower Grove Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri

4 thoughts on “Review: iNDO

  1. If you’re still in St. Louis try a hot salami sandwich at Gioia’s Deli. Not subtle and lovely like what you had but great flavor.

    • Alas, it’s a quick overnight trip. Not sure when I’ll head there again (it’s only a 2.5hr drive) but I’ll add this to the list! I love a hot salami sandwich!

  2. Hi I am back online! Glad to see your post and the foods look so great nicely presented and really looks YUMMY! Would love to try that. Enjoy! Keep in touch!

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