Enjoyed a bit of a feast at Wagamama in the O2 Centre recently, partly due to the generous vouchers sent to Diner HQ, and partly due to sheer greed. With enthusiasm to give the menu a decent examination, three of us settled in with a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio to see whether this popular chain restaurant could compete with local independent noodly favourites.
Whilst Nicky wasn’t a huge fan of the pork ribs, finding these types of things generically greasy, Jonathan happily got stuck in, whilst I devoured some wonderful, garlic-laced, wok-fried greens – a simple dish we all enjoyed. Also scoring points for healthiness and taste was goma wakame salad; Nicky describes this as “a Japanese-style ‘coleslaw’ of seaweed, with crunchy carrot and sesame seeds”. I concur, and with its subtle dressing, this was a delicious and fresh plate that I’d have as a side rather than a starter.
Ebi gyoza, little dumplings of prawn and vegetables, slightly divided opinion with their deep-fried, less-soft form. I really liked them, and they somehow reminded me of those wholewheat versions of pasties you buy at the larger railway stations (yes, I’m so dull I actually choose wholewheat pasties!)
Chilli squid proved pleasant enough, as did Jonathan’s main of beef teriyaki with soba noodles. The yasai chilli men (sounds like Lego people running their own noodle bar!) was a winner – Nicky described it as being “like a fusion of an Italian pasta dish with Asian flavours and noodles”, and indeed it was a fine dish, colourful and zingy with a very pleasing chargrilled flavour to the chunky veg.
I tried a new summer special offering, the coconut seafood broth and, as with last time I had a soup-based dish in Wagamama, I was surprised and actually quite enthralled by the depth of flavour – absolutely brilliant and perfectly balanced in that hot, salty, sweet and sour way. The seafood within was fine, but that broth, I’d have gone through gallons of it. It even seemed to work with the Pinot Grigio (second bottle by then!) quite well.
Desserts were a bit of fun; I had some miniature cheesecakes and things, while Nicky gorged on black sesame ice cream mochi, which Jonathan and I snobbed-out at due to their rather odd, gelatinous coating.
Easy to sum up this one – enjoyable, satisfying food, nice and fresh, and strong on pungent, spicy flavours. Decent portions, with more character in the dishes than one might imagine from a chain eatery of this type. I also consider this might be very good hangover food… so I expect we’ll find reason to pop in again soon!