SOMETIMES you have to use your noodle to find a place to eat that will keep everyone in the family happy.
I love Japanese food and so does my loon, Mrs B isn’t a huge fan and the littlest one in the family is reluctant to veer away too much from her fish and chips staple.
So the first time I suggested we give noodle experts Wagamama a rattle – it was during a holiday in London – I had something of a tussle on my hands to persuade the girls it really did have something for everyone.
What do you know ... I was right and now Wagamama is firmly on our “let’s go there” list.
So when I noticed a couple of new items springing up on the Union Square menu, I didn’t have any trouble persuading Mrs B and our princess to join me – even if we had to queue for 15 minutes to get in to the place. The perils of popular eating places, eh?
There is something comforting about the busy efficiency of Wagamama, with its hustle and bustle, waiters writing on your table cloths and food arriving when it’s ready, in no particular order.
We happily settled into one of the booths and got to the business end of ordering.
One of the aforementioned new items was on the side dish menu – pork ribs in a special barbecue sauce.
As a rib fan, Mrs B had no hesitation in going for them. Knowing sharesies would be on the cards, I was delighted too.
They were roasting hot when they arrived, but meaty and packed with a zingy flavour.
There was a big citrus – getting on for orange – note running through them. Mrs B doesn’t like orange in her savoury, so bonus for me.
My own side dish choice was gyoza – meaty dumplings. Stuffed with chicken and veg, these are a real treat, especially when dipped in the spicy garlic soy sauce that comes with them.
The only downside was the wait. Yes, I know they tell you when you order that food comes when it’s cooked. It just seemed to be an awful lot of gyoza was cooked before mine ... including folk who arrived after us. Hey ho, it was delicious when it arrived.
As we tucked in, the little one’s meal arrived – her usual favourite of grilled chicken and noodles. It was simple, fresh, came with carrots, sweetcorn and cucumber and kept her happily munching for a while.
Happy munching was the theme for the grown-ups too ... and some slurping.
Well, it’s hard not to slurp when you’ve ordered a big bowl of noodles in soup like chicken ramen.
Mrs B was well chuffed. The chicken and pork broth was rich and flavourful, packed with greens and noodles, supporting perfectly cooked chicken breast.
There wasn’t a lot of chat coming across the table while that lot was being demolished.
Still, I couldn’t talk for eating anyway, not while I had a fine yaki udon to distract me. This dish consists of fat udon noodles in curry oil, with chicken, prawns, egg, beansprouts, mushroom, peppers, leeks and the fishy tubes made in Japan, known as chikuwa. Think crab sticks but better.
With its range of textures and flavours, this is getting on for perfection on a plate.
Washed down with a couple of beers and cola for the wee one, we couldn’t ask for a better meal – and everyone was happy.
Which is a bonus.