Wagamama is now one of those high street staples, along side Nandos, Pizza Express etc. You can find them in every major town and city and then some. Despite this, it’s somewhere I’ve only every been twice before. Once when I decidedly hungover in Manchester many years ago and really couldn’t have given two hoots what I was eating, and once a couple of years back when we were a bit underwhelmed with the food. With only these experiences under my belt, when so many other are so complimentary about a place, I wondered whether I was missing something, so when the guys at the New Street Wagamama asked us to come and try some of the new summer menu, it was time to try again, and I think I finally see what other people have been telling me.
Im not the biggest fan of the communal dining style (never have never will be – when I go out to dinner I like to sit with the people I go with, not elbow to elbow with strangers) so It’s good to note that in the New Street branch there are a decent amount of separate tables which I liked.
We sat a while to look through the menu, and had some drinks both trying out one of their juices. I liked the freshness of these and really enjoyed a change to just a diet coke. The new items on the menu all sounded really appetising; dishes such as the Grilled Bream Donburi, Pad Thai Salad and Sticky Pork Belly all sounded really fantastic
At Wagamama the food comes out when it’s cooked, rather than in the traditional starters then mains, so we chose a few of the ‘side’ dishes and a couple of main courses. From the new summer menu we had the :
- Beef Tataki – lightly seared, marinated steak, thinly sliced and served chilled. dressed with citrus ponzu and japanese mayonnaise and served with a side of pickled beetroot and coriander
- Seared Nuoc Cham Tuna – seared nuoc cham tuna steak on a bed of quinoa with stir-fried kale, sweet potato, edamame beans, red onion and peppers. garnished with coriander
- Chicken Samla Curry – a fragrant, spicy lemongrass and coconut curry with chicken, peppers, shiitake mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes. served with white rice and garnished with spring onion, chilli and coriander
and from the main menu the:
- Tori Kara Age – seasoned crispy chicken pieces dressed in and served with a spiced sesame and soy sauce. garnished with lime
- Duck Wraps – shredded crispy duck served with cucumber and spring onions, served with asian pancakes and cherry hoisin sauce
The 3 new summer dishes we tried were really very good. My tuna was a standout for me, so flavoursome, really well seared and pink in the middle and just a perfect light dish for a summer day. Again the beef was perfectly seared, really tender and so tasty with the really tangy citrus ponzu.
Lee really enjoyed his curry, it had a good hit of spice and was very heavy on the lemongrass. It won’t be for everyone due to this, but we both enjoyed it a lot. We also enjoyed the 2 other sides we had, the cherry hoisin was delicious with the duck pancakes and the chicken moist and not too oily, but the flavours of the new dishes sung above the old ones for us.
We also tried some of the desserts, they have several sorbets and ice creams as well as a few other desserts. I fell in love with the Pink Guava and Passion Fruit sorbet, it was just so refreshing. The chocolate and schihimi ice cream was also a pleasant surprise – the japanese spice blend gave it a really interesting warmth!
Family friendly? We were really impressed with this side of things, with great facilities and friendly service and a great sounding kids menu. They also had both standard and highchairs that clip to the table – the same as our Phil and Teds Lobster which was great to see. There were lots of families in when we were there with kids from babies to teenagers so family friendly it certainly is.
Overall we were very impressed with this visit to Wagamamas – the food was much better than we remembered it with some real punchy flavours and ideas. The service we had was friendly and efficient and they catered well for children. A big thumbs up for this visit and we would certainly now return again.
Disclosure: We were invited down to try the new menu and received this meal free of charge. All thoughts and opinions honest and our own.