wagamama covent garden
I spend an obscene amount of time and money eating less-than-pleasing boxed salads between meetings. For all that is health conscious, it is a necessary but grating evil and one that had me so outrageously bored last week I decided to pop in to wagamama for something a little more flavourful.

As casual dining goes, they are a quality-focused go-to of mine so I was delighted to see they had launched a selection of incredible-looking Summer dishes while I’ve been in the States.

To start, my lunch date and I nibbled on beef tataki (lightly seared marinated steak) over a few sips of sake. The tataki – served chilled and dressed with citrus ponzu & japanese mayonnaise alongside pickled beetroot and coriander – rivalled some of my infinitely more expensive London restaurant favourites and braced us for our respectively delicious mains.

My date went for their seared nuoc cham tuna steak (on a bed of quinoa with stir-fried kale, sweet potato, edamame beans, red onion, peppers, and garnished with coriander) while I went for the nutrition-packed pad thai salad. The salad blends ginger chicken and prawns on a bed of mixed leaves, mangetout, baby plum tomatoes, shredded pickled beetroot, carrot, red onion (I’m allergic so went without), and fried shallots. Then serves it with a side of peanuts and a nuoc cham & ginger miso dressing.

Drooling yet?

For the time and money it would have taken me to source a sub-par boxed salad, the restaurant more than deserved a rave review. Thanks for keeping my culinary sanity in check, wagamama.

wagamama covent garden
wagamama covent garden

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wagamama
After hearing some rather stupendous recommendations concerning the ramen selection at wagamama, I decided to return to the restaurant for the first time in literal years. As food trends go, ramen only seems to woo more and more street food-loving Londoners by the week (thanks in large part to my constant praise, no doubt).

As a chain and a company most don’t realise have been perfecting their ramen recipes for over 20 years (they even released a book on it in 1994!), there were a lot of expectations to exceed.

I do feel wrong calling wagamama a chain, though. The ramen-fuelled meal I ended up enjoyining was not only uber-fresh but uber-delicious. ‘Chain’ doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Hopefully, the photography will. From the steamed hirata pork belly & panko apple bun (fluffy bao served with japanese mayonnaise and coriander) to the vegan Surendra’s curry (green curry made with tofu, jalapeño peppers, onions, sweet potato straws and ginger – vacuumed up by my dinner date), nothing could be faulted.

I, of course, went for the Daddy of All Ramens – the very tender short rib ramen – served on the bone atop noodles, chicken broth, carrots, mangetout, red onions, sweet potato and pea shoots. With kimchee for good measure.

With two fresh and health-conscious juices slurped to conclude our family-sized meals, I found myself very eager to return. After all, those buns and bowls won’t eat themselves.

wagamama
wagamama
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wagamama review
I am not really one for ‘fast food’…let alone reviewing it. I have friends who can praise the heavens for a golden french fry or fried chicken, but it’s just not my – fried – bag.

I had swept wagamama into the ‘fast food’ category until seeing their jazzy little Way of Wagamama recipe video (below). I mean…Thai freshness hasn’t really delivered in the UK the way it did on the streets of Bangkok, but I was willing to take a chance on my tickled tastebuds.

Fast food/chain-restaurant/mall-food or not, wagamama has my seal of approval.

Kicking things off with a tangy ‘Super Green Juice‘ (apple, mint, celery, lime juice, and a whole lot of healthy), The Manfriend and I ran through their astronomic list of fresh gastro delights and settled on a Chicken Katsu Curry and Prawn + Chicken Pad Thai (obvs), along with some sides.

If kimchi is ever on a menu, I order it on impulse. wagamama’s was perfectly spicy with just a slice of the sour fermentation, just the way I like it. To balance the spice we shared a plate of Duck Gyoza which – when paired will their spicy cherry hoi sin sauce – was deliciously moreish (if not a tad pastry-heavy).

Our mains were, unexpectedly, the real winners. The Manfriend’s Katsu was completely man-friendly; chicken breast deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs and covered in a honey-tinged curry sauce with sticky white rice, dressed mixed leaves and red pickles (sneaky veggies = my favourite). My own Prawn + Chicken Pad Thai was a perfect blend of lean proteins with ginger, peanuts, garlic, spring onion, red onion, amai sauce, chilli, and lime. Though most of my noodles were left behind (personal taste), the portions were also extremely generous.

The combination of editing these photos and re-watching the video has, in fact, resulted in mad hunger. See you in 10, wagamama.

wagamama review
wagamama review
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