If you’ve had a long hard day hitting the shops and want to get a wholesome and tasty Japanese meal, then head for wagamama.
This wagamama is located just off Oxford Street and next to Selfridges. As you make your way down the slanting floor to the servers, you realise you are in more of an underground venue than when you entered at street level. Like the rest of the venues in the chain, this wagamama has long wooden benches and tables where you mix with strangers, canteen style, with a bright white interior and a furiously busy kitchen on display.
You’ll probably have to queue for a table which is normal for wagamama, but this shouldn’t put you off as it normally clears in about 10 minutes. Due to its location, it gets very busy and never lets up. This gives it a buzzy vibe and people typically come here when they need to refuel after a heavy shopping session. The servers are bustling about all the time and look harassed, but they always serve your orders with a smile and check on you frequently to check if you’re ok or if you need anything else.
wagamama serves speedy Japanese food; in effect it’s like fast food as it’s delivered to your table in less than 10 minutes. The servers take down your order on an electronic device which is linked to the kitchen meaning your orders get to you speedily. Don’t be alarmed that they are writing on your paper place mat, they’re supposed to. All dishes come at different times so you might get your main before your side.
Side dishes include a selection of gyozas which are grilled or fried dumplings with duck (£4.95), chicken (£4.65), vegetable (£4.65) and prawn (£4.95). If you haven’t had them before they are quite glutinous and similar to the texture of dim sum, with a touch of soy sauce and chilli oil they are a great way to start your meal. If you really like chicken then the Tori Kara Age (£4.15) is a must have. Served with a wedge of lime and some spicy soy sauce, it’s one of the best sides on the menu.
For mains you can choose from ramen, a Japanese soup, rice and noodle dishes. If it’s a bit chilly outside then slurping on some ramen is your best bet. They are packed full of goodness and noodles and fill you up to the brim. You can get chicken (£7.35), seafood (£9.30), chilli beef (£11) or chilli chicken (£8.25).
From the noodle section there’s the very popular Yaki Soba (£6.80) or the vegetarian yasai yaki soba (£6.25) which is like a stir fry. It’s not very adventurous and most people who haven’t been to wagamama will probably choose it. However, it is quite bland and needs a bit of chilli oil to give it some much needed flavour. The ginger chicken udon (£7.80) is one to try if you like loads of ginger and thick noodles. It’s also quite healthy.
Finally for the rice there is wagamama’s speciality dish, the chicken katsu curry (£8.05). It’s breaded slices of chicken with a thick slightly curried sauce, mixed with sweet pickles and salad. It is quite simply one of the best dishes on the menu and is one of the most popular. Also, if you are addicted to the sauce, you can ask for more at no extra charge and drown your meal in it.
There are a selection of interesting beers on offer such as Asahi Super Dry (£3.25 for a small bottle and £4.55 for a large), Asahi Premium Black (£4.05 a small bottle), Kirin Ichiban (£4.70), Sapporo (£4.60) and Tiger (£3.25/£5.75). If you’re feeling brave, they have sake at £4 for a small flask and £7.70 for a large flask.
Wines are quite average so when considering your options, perhaps go for the glass as opposed to the bottle. House is £3.60/£4.70/£11.80 and it’s not that great, so spend a bit more money if you want to enjoy your glass like the Tempranillo (£4.30/£5.65/£15.70) for the reds and Sauvignon Blanc for the same prices.
What wagamama does very well, if you’re on a bit of a detox, are their fresh juices. You can have raw juice which is like a natural energy drink, carrot juice, fruit juice which is good for cleansing and digestion and apple and lime juice all at £2.95.
The Last Word
wagamama offers speedy food at reasonable prices. It’s a great place to stop, before or after your shopping expedition on Oxford Street.