Once you have gotten over the wow factor of the Westfield shopping centre, look to your left at the main entrance and you’ll find wagamama right there waiting for you.
Literally two minutes from the contemporary new Shepherds Bush station, wagamama is on the Southern Terrace so it’s nice and easy to find. They have a few tables outside, which will be nice in summer, but for now it’s advisable to go inside where you will be greeted with a warm welcome.
Floor to ceiling windows let you peer inside to see if there’s a free table amongst the hustle and bustle. Whether you spot one or not, though, you won’t be waiting long. Come through the entrance into the main dining room, which is square and quite stark with gleaming white walls and polished floors - the epitome of cleanliness.
Even if there’s a queue at the door you can expect the maximum wait time to be about ten minutes. Once inside wagamama, the usual racket of animated chat amongst diners can be heard loudly. The tables are canteen bench style, so it may not be ideal for a first date. It’s definitely a fun and lively atmosphere though and sitting so close to your fellow diners you’re bound to make a new friend or two over the soy sauce!
If you haven’t been to wagamama before, prepare to be swept off your feet. All their food is freshly prepared in the open kitchen which runs along the length of the room, but despite this you won’t be waiting for very long whatever your order. They are also very adaptable to peoples various requests – in fact, they welcome it – so don’t be afraid to ask them to add more coriander or chilli or to swap the noodles.
wagamama is the sort of restaurant you need to visit several times to try all the dishes as it’s very difficult to pick just one. Their most popular dish is the chicken katsu curry (£7.95) which is a tender chicken breast coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and deep fried. It’s served with sticky white rice and a mild, smooth katsu curry sauce. A mixed leaf salad price goes very nice on the side, covered with sweet and vinegary dressing and chopped pickled ginger as a garnish. It’s a true winner all around with a delightful mix of textures and mild sauce for beginners.
The vegetarian version of this dish, yasai katsu curry (£7.35), is a selection of sliced aubergine, sweet potato and butternut squash covered in the same breadcrumbs. Moving onto the spicier dishes, the chicken itame (£8.25) with rice noodles comes in a big bowl swimming in a hot coconut soup with bok choi, spring onions, bean sprouts, red peppers and plenty of fresh chilli and coriander. It’s a real fusion of flavours – you can definitely taste the lime – and there is a real kick to the soup, undeniably a winter warmer. The chilli chicken men (£8.95) is also a very popular dish, with soba noodles, lots of vegetables and a heap of chilli in a tomato sauce. It could be spicier but it certainly doesn’t lack flavour.
If you have room for any sides with your main course (which come when they are ready as opposed to before or the same time as your main meal) the ebi katsu (£5.95) are divine – about five really juicy, fresh prawns deep fried in the same panko breadcrumbs as the katsu curry. A slightly spicy tomato chilli sauce makes for a great dip. For the vegetarians, the grilled asparagus spears (£4.20) are perfectly al dente, and the sweet, sticky, soy based sauce works well as an accompaniment.
Even the little ones are carefully taken care of, since kids love noodles too, with mini chicken ramen and fish noodles, mini katsu curries with the sauce on the side, and even ice lollies and mini freshly squeezed juices. There’s not a chip or burger in sight which is a refreshing change from other shopping centre eateries.
There’s an interesting choice of both soft drinks and alcoholic drinks compared to other restaurants in wagamama’s price range. You are spoilt for choice with their delicious freshly squeezed juices, coming in combinations such as cucumber, tomato, carrot, orange and apple as well as carrot and ginger or refreshing apple with a squeeze of lime, all at £2.95.
They also do a great plum wine served with ice and sparkling mineral water, which tastes like a sweet cider with an unusual plumy aftertaste. The obligatory sake is served cold in a flask for either one or two and for £5 or £7.85. If beer is more your thing there are five popular choices on the menu, from a small Asahi at £3.20 to a large bottle of Tiger at £5.75. There are also nine world wines all at very reasonable prices.
The Last Word
Everyone will find something on the menu here to whet their appetite and the prices are very reasonable for the quality and portion size. So take a pit stop between shops, guaranteed you won’t be disappointed.