IT’S taken almost 20 years to arrive but, at last, it’s here.
For those of us lucky enough to have stumbled across Wagamama’s pan-Asian style elsewhere since it launched in 1992, this has been a long, long time coming.
Inevitably, there were queues out the door when it opened in the city and both the service and food were – somewhat inevitably – a bit hit and miss. But I’ve been three times since and it has to be said they’ve nailed the Wagamama philosophy at last. Fresh food, fast and fun.
This place pitches itself as a trendy, value diner with unusual dishes.
In most of their venues you hunker down on long benches with other people, but this being smaller than most there’s a mix of benches and booths.
The last time I was in I got yapping to a Japanese lady who said it was the best place for noodles by far ... some recommendation.
I’m usually so boring and go for the chicken katsu curry (drooling thinking about it) but in the interests of research, it was time to be different.
Your food comes when it’s ready which can lead to some fantastic looks of jealousy depending on who gets their meal first.
My other half is from good Cullen stock, so fish blood runs through her veins.
Inevitably her salmon teriyaki soba noodles landed first. Fish grilled in teriyaki sauce on fried soba noodles with curry oil, mangetout, chillies, red and spring onions, beansprouts, bok choi, coriander and sesame seeds. It must have been good as she never said a word for 10 minutes (a record) unless I was trying to pinch some. Delicious.
I had a spicy chicken itame – basically a spicy green coconut and lemon grass soup, noodles and the usual chillies, spring and red onion, bok choi, peppers and coriander, topped with lime and lovely crunchy beansprouts. It was spicy, fresh and brilliant, although I felt like I was cheating on the katsu curry. Don’t worry, I’ll be back for you ...
We were absolutely famished so we had buckets of side dishes. Gyoza (chicken and vegetable steamed dumplings with a chilli, garlic, sesame and soy sauce). Gone in a flash.
So was the special side dish, asparagus and mushroom gyoza. But the best was the chilli squid. Absolutely, mouth-wateringly to die for.
On top of that, we greedy guts had chocolate frozen yoghurt and a white chocolate and ginger cheesecake.
With a sparkling water, raw juice (cucumber, tomato, carrot, apple and orange), pinot grigio and Asahi black to boot we had overdone it and stuffed ourselves silly.
Painful, but, wagamama mia, it was worth it...