Wagamama shows up many other chain restaurants with its consistently good, well-priced grub.
This branch of Wagamama is located within the N1 Centre but that’s about all that stands it apart from the rest. Inside the ubiquitous long bench tables are ever present, eagerly awaiting row upon row of diners, neatly lined up next to each other. And that’s about as far as the decor goes. Neutral walls and a simple colour scheme do little to lift the sense that the space is more function over style.
The good thing about communal tables is it encourages the pleasant hum of conversation. Although Londoners typically hate being too close to strangers (probably something to do with the daily commute when you become all too familiar with your neighbours armpit), this is a set up that works well. It allows large numbers of diners to eat at once without being sandwiched onto too small tables. The staff are worth a mention for the sheer force of will it must take to maintain smiles throughout their shifts whilst simultaneously whisking people in and out several hundred times a day.
This is why people who normally shy away if a stranger so much as smiles at them are attracted to a place where interaction with your neighbour is encouraged. They do good food here and lots of it. Ramens (that’s soup to you and me), noodles, curries – there’s something for everyone. Particularly good at this branch is the chicken katsu curry (£8.75), comprising chicken breast fried in panko breadcrumbs with a quite-hot and well spiced curry sauce and sticky white rice. It’s simple, it’s well portioned and it’s very filling so you can just have a main course if you’re looking to save money. Alternatively, the chicken ramen (£7.90) impresses with soft noodles in a well seasoned chicken and pork soup with a decent helping of chicken and crunchy seasonal greens adding texture. Well balanced, it’s the most filling soup you’ll have ever tried.
The soft drink selection at Wagamama excels, with a larger than usual choice that includes fresh juices. And not just orange juice, vegetable juices, too. If you want a hit of alcohol then sake and plum wine sit alongside red and white wine. There’s a good, well themed choice of beer, too, including Asahi, Tiger, Singha and Kirin Ichiban and a handful of cocktails.
The Last Word
Another location, another hit restaurant. Wagamama keeps drawing in diners and it’s easy to see why.