One of the busiest restaurants in the popular chain proves that efficiency is rewarded with a steady stream of bums on seats.
Holborn, Covent Garden, Embankment – so many busy tube stations delivering customers almost straight to Wagamama’s door. As such, they’ve worked out a way to pack ‘em in and get ‘em out without making it feel like you’re playing sardines. The neat rows of long bench style tables are simple and devoid of flourish, and the chairs are lined up neatly against them to make it almost impossible not to sit elbow to elbow with your neighbour. The neutral colour scheme would make this more like a school hall than a restaurant were it not for the sheer number of people, somehow becoming decorative features themselves. Enjoy people watching? You'll like it here.
The staff are friendly but only to a point – efficiency is the name of the game here. Get in, take the order, deliver it quickly and clean up afterwards ready for the next customer - they’ve got it down to an art form. Expect to wait at peak times but the capacity of the venue is high and this isn’t the kind of place you languish in for hours so you’re unlikely to be stood in line for too long.
As you may well know, well-priced and decent food is the name of the game at Wagamama. You’ll find it hard to break the £10 barrier if you’re only popping in for a main meal – no mean feat in Covent Garden. If you like soup the try the soft, delicate itame rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup with a hint of sweetness, topped with stir-fried, tender pieces of chicken, crunchy beansprouts, hot but not overbearing chillies, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers and mushrooms. For £8.95 it’s worth every penny. Alternatively, the ever popular Wagamama ramen (£8.20) shows why it’s so regularly ordered. Comprising noodles in a vegetable soup with chunks of chicken, plump prawns, tofu, mushrooms, wakame and seasonal greens, it’s a winner across the chain and definitely shines in this location.
The beer choice keeps in with the theme, with options including Asahi, Kirin Ichiban, Tiger and Singha, with a choice of two sakes if you're looking to go really authentic. A handful of cocktails and a decent wine list finish the choice of alcohol, with fresh juices making an impressive statement on the menu for tee-totallers.
The Last Word
If you want to see for yourself why the Wagamama franchise is so strong then try the Covent Garden branch - it's very good.