My Wagamama Experience
I first heard about Wagamama through Heather; at least, I’m pretty sure I did. I’d be surprised if I’d heard about it from anyone else as Heather is the Queen of Wagamama. We nearly went one time with Rachel when we went shopping for the first time after we found out that Heather was pregnant. We’d been pushing prams around, trying to find gender neutral baby clothes and generally having a good old girly day out. I’m sure Heather wrote about it SOMEwhere, but I can’t find it anywhere on her blog so you’ll just have to go without the link. Anyway, Heather suggested then that we should go to Wagamama, but realised that nearly all the dishes have bean sprouts in which you’re not supposed to eat when you’re pregnant so we had to go for a Costa lunch instead.
When I moved into my house at the beginning of this month, my mum spotted a Wagamama and said, “Ooh, we’ll have to eat there sometime!”. Ever since then, it seemed that everyone was eating at Wagamama, my housemate went with her hockey team, my other housemate went with a few of her friends, one of my friends ate there with his family for his birthday… AND I STILL HADN’T HAD THE WAGAMAMA EXPERIENCE!! Finally, when I arrived on campus on Friday, I was told by my friends that we were all eating at Wagamama that night. It was a last minute decision and meant I had to rearrange my journey home for Saturday morning instead of that night, but BOY was it worth it!
I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I just knew it was different to most other restaurants. Once Heather found out that I was going, I got strict instructions to order the yasai yaki soba without mushrooms and not to be put off by the coriander oil as it tastes NOTHING like coriander (apparently). I was obviously all ready to trust Heather, the Wagamama expert, on this one but when I read the description I saw that it had egg in it. Usually if there’s something that I don’t like on a menu I don’t have a problem asking for the dish without it, but I wasn’t sure if you could ask for something without egg as it seems like quite a vital ingredient. So in the end, I went for saien soba – fried tofu, vegetables and noodles in soup. It was deeelicious.
The best part was that you got a mini bamboo (maybe) ladle to slurp the soup out of, which meant if no-one was looking you could use it to eat some of the solid bits with. This is only necessary when you are as inexperienced with using chopsticks as I am. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten properly with chopsticks. Before this meal, I would have said that I could eat with chopsticks. My friend went to China and brought me back a pair and taught me how to use them properly. I was the master at the game where you have to move smarties from one bowl to another using chopsticks, but apparently not all Chinese/Japanese food is smartie shaped. I would be ok at first, but then as soon as I had to grip something firmly enough to pick it up, the chopstick would slip, the food would fall into the soup and everyone in a metre radius would get splattered with spicy, oily liquid. If anything, it was just a waste of soup! In the end, I just gave up and balanced the noodles over the ends of the chopsticks and stabbed the tofu with the point. I don’t think anyone cared too much…
The upside to being a beginner chopstick-er is that it really takes you a long time to finish the meal. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the ‘small fork diet’, but the basic idea is that it takes you twice as long to eat a meal with a small fork and you end up full before you’ve eaten your meal and half of everyone else’s. The same principle works with chopsticks if you’re as qualified at using them as I am. I could only manage half my bowl of soup and I was stuffed! I think I might start eating everything with chopsticks, it seems to work! As full as I was though, it didn’t stop me trying a sweet chilli and apple gyoza. These are sweet dumplings served with a vanilla sauce and they are gorgeous. All cinnamon-ey and warm. Yum-my. I would highly recommend them for dessert, but you might have to share with a friend if you’ve used your chopsticks as effectively as I did!
All in all, I very much enjoyed my Wagamama experience. Good food, good company and just a generally good time. The only slight negative was that because your food arrives as soon as it’s done, rather than the whole table’s coming at once, my friend had finished his sushi before my dish even arrived. Now, I’m actually a fan of the fast food service. It makes it a bit different and makes sure your food hasn’t been sat around getting cold before you eat it. It was just a little annoying for him that he had to sit and wait while we finished, but I guess that’s just luck of the draw and you should be prepared for it if you’re eating in a large party.
So, the general message is, get yourself to a Wagamama at the next convenient moment. No, scrap that, just go now! You won’t regret it (even if you have just eaten a huge meal like I have, there’s always space for some of those sweet dumplings!).