Restaurant reviews

Wagamama – A chain worth praising

When I first went to Wagamamas it was about 11 years ago at Tower Hill, looking out over the Tower of London and enjoying a ‘positive eating experience’ based around the Wagamama way. Sitting in the restaurant, I was able to experience what I would loosely term my first real taste of ‘Japanese’ food, a cuisine that, until then, had been a real mystery to me!

Since my first taste of a Wagamama meal, I have been to the restaurant many, many times including with my family and my now-wife for my 18th birthday meal. When we were still at school and watching the pennies, Charlotte and I would eagerly keep an eye out for the local paper which often had 2-for-1 offers on main meals for our local Wagamama chain. More recently, I was invited to attend the opening of the Trinity Wagamama in Leeds, which was a fantastic experience in terms of both seeing the Trinity Centre before its official opening and also having a meal completely free of charge!

This review, though, has been brought on by a recent trip to Wagamama in Meadowhall, Sheffield, that really reminded me that some chains, when done well, really are worth a trip and can also attempt (sometimes) to compete with the likes of Little Tokyo and Fuji Hiro (both Leeds-based Japanese favourites). While a chain can never compete on all fronts with an independent restaurant in my opinion, it is sometimes born out of necessity that you need to grab a bite to eat and you just fancy a good value meal that packs some punch, something that in my opinion Wagamama offers in abundance.

I picked a grilled duck ramen (a new dish introduced to the menu recently) to go with my blueberry spiced juice, and Charlotte and I decided to share the duck gyoza as a ‘starter’/ accompaniment to our main meals (she chose the ever amazing and always popular chicken katsu curry as her main). I was delighted to find that, as per usual, the food tasted really fresh and had been excellently seasoned. I had asked for a little extra spice with my dish and they honoured this in some style! Meanwhile, the gyoza were light, tasty and the sauce was a really nice addition to what is an excellent side dish.

All in all, the experience was a really pleasurable one and reminded me of the fact that there is a real place in the market for a good quality chain to excel in and that Wagamama is a really positive presence for foodies in the UK.

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