Sunday, 2 September 2012


Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, noodle bar

As you may already know, we love South East Asian food. One of my favourite cuisine is Japanese. I wouldn't say that I know what is authentic and what is not, but I certainly love my Sushi, Sashimi, Japanese Curry, Katsu, Ramen and Tepanyaki I've tried in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and England. We try to try as many different restaurants as possible, but we do miss a lot. For example, we see Wagamama all the time, but it's always when we were rushing to somewhere else. Hence the opportunity of reviewing their food was most welcoming.

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, noodle bar

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, noodle bar

Wagamama (meaning 'naughty child' in English) is a restaurant inspired by Japanese noodle bars and Asian flavours. Upon arrival, we were greeted with helpful staffs. Menus were explained and dishes were recommended. There were so many we wanted to try, unfortunately we have limited space to try them all! So, after a fairly long consideration, we ordered 3 starters, 2 mains and a children main from their Wagamama Kids menu, that bears a new character Hoshi (meaning 'star' in English), an exclusive character to Wagamama designed by Rachel Ortis, head designer from art and science children's magazine Okido.

While waiting for the drinks and food, Hoshi has kept the children occupied with activities and stickers.

Wagamama, Peach Iced Tea, Ginger Beer

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, children juice

To be able to try other drinks as well, I've ordered a regular Peach Iced Tea while hubby went for large. We love our Iced Teas! It was delicious, and not the cordial mixed with water stuff Costa serves! Anyway. Later on I ordered a coke (bottled! The best!) while hubby ordered a Ginger Beer. It was surprisingly good! We don't normally order juice for our children as we always bring water for them. But as a treat, we ordered an Orange and Apple combo for Abby from the children's menu. It has a marbled foam on top, quite interesting I must say! I'm not sure whether it's nice or not but Abby drank it all.

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, chilli squid

Abby's favourite Chilli Squid (£5.55). Crispy outside yet soft inside, the squid was tasty but a bit mild for me and hubby as we are used to strong flavoured food. A dash of soya sauce has enhanced the flavour for us, while Abby enjoyed every bit of it. We only managed a couple each to try as Abby kept on asking: 'Can I have another one please?' and 'Mummy is anyone eating the last one? Can I have it please?' Of course you can babe! The sweet and spicy sauce that came with it was really nice too.

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, fried gyoza

These chicken and vegetables Gyoza (dumplings, £5.25) were suppose to be steamed, but they said that they could only deep fry them when we were visiting. I had no idea why she told me that until now, as I assumed that it was suppose to be fried! The skin was thin and crispy, and the filling was really tasty. My favourite bit was the chilli, garlic and sesame soya sauce. I would have used it for anything!

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, beef kushiyaki

Their new Beef Kushiyaki (£6.55) was still pink inside, flavoursome and has a slightly more chewy texture (acceptable chewy of course). If the flavour is a touch stronger it would go very well with a fizzy drink (I don't do beer).

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, children ramen

This is the children's Mini Ramen (£4.35) that is made from chicken and pork soup. It has grilled chicken, baby bean leaves, carrots and sweetcorns, and it went down very well with the kids. The soup was sweet, and possibly milky (we weren't sure whether the creaminess was from milk or bone marrow). The noodle soup was seasoned just right so is suitable for kids.

Hubby spotted a Cococino (Free) on the children's menu, which is a warm frothed whole milk flavoured with chocolate powder. We ordered one for Abby but she was too busy eating her food. By the time she got to it, it was already cold, and the young Missy told the waiter who was with us at the time that it's not warm but cold! *Roll eyes* The kind waiter brought her another one instead.

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, wagamama ramen

Hubby ordered a Wagamama Ramen (£8.50). It has a vegetable soup base, with grilled chicken, smooth dory, prawn, kamaboko (Japanese processed seafood product, a kind of minced fish cake), fried tofu, mushroom, wakame (seaweed), bamboo shoots and seasonal greens.

I was trying his soup and it was really interesting. I drank from the bamboo shoot corner, and it tasted of bamboo shoot. I tried the seaweed corner, and it tasted like seaweed. So I'm not quite certain what the soup base really taste like (should have stirred everything), but the stock was sweet and tasty, and very easy to drink as it won't make you feel even more thirsty like others do.

The ramen has a satisfying bouncy texture, yet they don't stick together. According to hubby, it's fairly authentic as the ramens he had in Japan were all quite subtle like the Wagamama one. Hubby really enjoyed his ramen but was glad that he didn't finish the soup. He was absolutely stuffed!

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, beef teriyaki soba

I had a Beef Teriyaki Soba (£13.50) from the Tepan section, which was absolutely delicious! The beef was soft, the vegetables were crunchy and the sauce was full of flavours with a touch of spiceness. Do watch those red chilli though! The soba noodles was a bit lost in everything as there were so many ingredients, but the texture was fantastic as well. It was my first time eating soba noodles, and I'll definitely go for it again. I must admit I have wolfed everything down, but I did share too!

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, desserts

We were all very stuffed at the end, but how can I resist a peek at their dessert menu? The White Chocolate and Ginger Cheesecake (£4.95) was highly recommended, while the Chocolate Fudge Cake (£4.95) was very intriguing as it came with a Dark Chocolate Wasabi sauce. The staff was really recommending it so we ordered both to try.

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, Jasmine Flowering tea

While waiting for the cakes, I was feeling really cold because of the air conditioning and the cold drinks. So I also ordered their free Green Tea and their Jasmine Flowering tea (£2.50, I think) as I wanted to see whether it's the flowering tea I thought it was.

The free flow green tea was a bit disappointing as it tasted a bit bleached. But the Jasmine Flowering tea was very nice. It was beautiful and subtle, not bitter at all. In fact, the tea was naturally sweet. If I'm not wrong you can refill the hot water for it too, as one tea bulb can last for quite a few cups.

Back to the cakes, hubby and Abby's favourite was the ginger cheesecake. It had pieces of candied ginger inside, with a chilli toffee ginger sauce. Maybe because I missed the ginger pieces, it wasn't spicy at all for me. I just tasted the sourness from the cheesecake. It was nice nonetheless.

I preferred my chocolate fudge cake, but it would have been better if it was served warm with the cold ice cream. The wasabi in the dark chocolate sauce has made it very interesting in a nice way, but you wouldn't know it was wasabi if no one told you beforehand.

I was feeling so cold I didn't really eat the ice cream until after we have finished everything and I started picking the melted bits. It was then I realised that the vanilla pod ice cream was absolutely delicious. Maybe it had to do with it being half melted, it was really creamy, not overly sweet, and so much better than some of the freezer quality brands.

Wagamama, Japanese cuisine, noodle bar

Overall, the experience was great. The food was good, there was plenty of drink choices, and the staff were eager to help. I was a bit disappointed as I thought there was Sushi and Sashimi, which appeared to be a new range that is being served in London only for now. Maybe the next time we go back, they will have it in Manchester as well!

I was also feeling quite cold towards the end and dishes weren't very hot when served. I suspect that it has to do with the air conditioning in the restaurant. I can, however, understand the need to get rid of the smokiness from the tepan and all that cooking. I think the only thing I wasn't keen in was the free flow green tea, as we are used to macha (Japanese ground tea) being served in this kind of restaurants. It wasn't a big deal really as most people order other drinks anyway, and the Iced Tea and Ginger Beer were pleasant surprises for us.

The food aren't really expensive, in fact, the pricing is very similar to pub prices. Next time, I would love to try their katsu curry, which seemed to be very popular. When I looked around the very busy restaurant, the curry is satisfyingly overflowing on the plate. Japanese curry is much milder, more starchier from the potatos, and kids loves them. I'll certainly report back to you on how we get on next time!

Disclosure: We were given a complementary meal to try and review; all opinions are honest and my own