LOSING MY WAGAMAMA VIRGINITY

I know, I know – where have I been? Wagamama has been a millennial staple since before the term millennial was even a thing. But something about it never appealed to me. I think it was the communal dining and the backless seating that made me think I could spend that kind of money somewhere more comfortable where people wouldn’t listen in on my bitching. However, it came to my attention that they serve a lot of vegan food so I was obliged to pay a visit.

We were glad to find a private booth style table with proper seating that didn’t leave me needing an adjustment. The vegan menu was substantial and sounded delicious, it was difficult to make a decision on what to try but first we settled for starters of Yasai (vegetable) Gyozas with Soy Dipping Sauce and Mixed Mushroom and Panko Aubergine Hirata Steamed Buns, with the idea of doing some swapsies.

Yasai Gyozas
Mushroom and Aubergine Steamed Buns

The Gyozas were nice enough, I enjoyed them but they weren’t anything to get excited about. The steamed buns however – they were a taste sensation. I could have happily sat and gorged on a plate full of these, compromising my low carb lifestyle for the next ten years. The buns themselves were so light and fluffy and the fried mushrooms and aubergine inside were perfectly seasoned and very lightly spiced, finished with a bit of fresh coriander. I will 100% go back for more of these, even though I do think they’re overpriced at £5.95 for 2. (They’re tiny.)

Main course for me was Vegatsu and for my significant other was Kare Burosu Ramen. When they arrived I was immediately jealous – James had a bowl of spicy soup heaving with fat udon noodles and crispy tofu, piled with mushrooms, fresh coriander and chilli. My plate of sliced seitan with rice and katsu curry sauce looked and smelled less inspiring. A bit like the Gyozas, it was fine. Not great, not offensive or unenjoyable in any way, just fine. The sauce didn’t have much of a kick and was slightly bland and the seitan was quite dry, even lathered in the sauce. The salad on the side didn’t bring much to the party either. But I must give Wagamama my respect for offering a meat alternative. It makes a great change from Butternut Squash and Mushrooms and of course, tofu which can be notoriously bland and akin to eating a wet sponge.

Vegatsu
Kare Burosu Ramen

BUT – I tried the Ramen and was even more jealous. It was tangy, spicy and warming and was a generous portion. The tofu was soft and fluffy inside and cripsy and seasoned on the outside. There’s something about udon noodles too. They are so fat and filling. What I especially loved was the huge wooden ladle type thing that comes with it, for (I can only assume) shovelling great mouthfuls of the stuff into your mouth one go. I am going to attempt to make a version of this dish myself at home. You’ll see this on my Instagram at some point!

We passed on dessert as we were full and in a hurry. (It’s worth noting though that the selection of vegan ice creams looked tempting – they have Chocolate and Orange Blossom and Strawberry and Yuzu, as well as a Mango and Matcha Layer Cake.)

Here’s the full vegan menu:
https://www.wagamama.com/our-menu/vegan#menu

Our bill for two starters, two mains, three soft drinks and a kid’s main course came to just over £45 in total.

Overall, I’d definitely go back to Wagamama – if I can find a proper seat at a private table. (I’m too up tight for this trendy communal dining shit.) The food was imaginative, there’s LOADS of choice (which is music to any vegan’s ears) and it’s a stylish but relaxed environment. I think the prices are a little inflated for the portion size and the likelihood that much of the food is probably ‘assembled and heated’ rather than cooked fresh to order. But it’s a chain owned by The Restaurant Group that also owns Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito. So bought in, ready to heat food is to be expected.

Taking Frankies into account too, the Group is doing a great job of vegan offerings – although Chiquito isn’t so great. Maybe they’ll be next to launch a vegan menu?

N.B. Wagamama’s Bang Bang Cauliflower has since been made vegan, so I will be going back to try that too – I’ve heard incredible things about it. And farting aside, it’s probably my favourite vegetable.