Wagamama knows what works and sticks resolutely to it. In the case of Wagamama Victoria that's no bad thing.
Wagamama has made sandwiching as many people into their restaurants nothing short of an art form. The Victoria branch of the popular restaurant chain actively encourages you to sit elbow-to-elbow with your neighbour via the rows of neatly lined up long banquet-style tables with matching bench seating. It’s a little awkward when you want to get out to pop to the loo - try to avoid kicking your neighbour as you swing yourself out of your place - but it has a certain charm that’s hard to ignore. If you really can’t face it there is a nice outdoor area with smaller tables beneath Wagamama branded parasols. Otherwise, the decor is subdued with glaring white walls, grey tiles and flashes of orange streaking up the walls at regular intervals. It’s simple without being cold. A hard line to walk.
Wagamama Victoria is almost always busy, whether it’s the lunchtime and after work crowd, the pre-theatre families and couples or the neverending sea of tourists and commuters that plough back and forth through Victoria every day. Luckily, this is one restaurant chain that’s run like a well-oiled machine and somehow the service never seems to slow as orders are taken, food is delivered and bills are paid with a fluidity that’s admirable.
Wagamama remains popular thanks to its quality menu at reasonable prices and the consistency is very good between branches of the chain. The Victoria restaurant does a particularly good yaki soba (£7.25) comprising well cooked teppan-fried soba noodles with a generous portion of tender chicken pieces complemented well by the seafood flavour of the shrimps. Egg adds depth to the dish and makes it filling and beansprouts, peppers and white and spring onions keeps the texture nice and crunchy. Just be warned, if you don’t like pickled ginger then this isn’t the dish for you as they do go a bit mad sprinkling it over the top. Alternatively, an oldie but a goodie is their chilli ramen (£8.95) comprising noodles in a (very) spicy but well-seasoned chicken and pork soup topped with plenty of thick chicken pieces, beansprouts, red and spring onions and chillies. They don’t skimp on the chillis so if you’re not sure do consult your waiter before ordering!
They do an excellent choice of soft drinks at Wagamama, with a larger than usual selection of soft drinks and fresh juices, including raw juices. However, it’s their well-balanced alcohol choice that really shines. Sake and plum wine sit alongside the usual, surprisingly lengthy and well-chosen red and white wine offering, complementing the dishes particularly well. There’s a decent choice of beer, too, including Asahi, Tiger, Singha and Kirin Ichiban and even a few cocktails.
The Last Word
It’s easy to see why Wagamama is such a success story. They do things simply. They do things well.