Up until this month, Wagamama Liverpool ONE has been the same as every other Wagamama – a minimal, canteen-style restaurant chain serving better-than-your-average Asian fusion fast food.
I’ve been no stranger to Waga but definitely not what you might call a regular as I’ve always considered it to pale in the shadows of more upmarket Asian eateries around me like Sunset by Australasia, Chaophraya and Matou.
However, Liverpool ONE’s Wagamama restaurant has just undergone a bit of a facelift and well, it has proved to be pretty transformative in my opinion.
Something about the stylish new décor, consideration for authentic crockery and warming atmosphere has given the restaurant a certain air of sophistication that it didn’t have before – something which was undeniably reflected throughout the new menus too.
I actually found myself sitting on a bench at Wagamama Liverpool ONE at 7pm on a Tuesday evening because they very kindly invited me there to learn all about their new ramen menu. We were taught about the rich history of ramen before sampling a few of Wagamama’s interpretations of the traditional broth and noodle dish.
I’d never actually eaten ramen before so I’ve not got much (or anything) by way of comparison but good lord, have I been missing out. From the collection of both traditional and adapted ramen recipes, I sampled the Miso Cod Ramen and the Tantanmen Beef Brisket Ramen – both of which were Delicious with a big, fat capital D.
We were actually invited to order another meal of our choice from the standard Wagamama menu on the evening but I’m pleased to say that my head has officially been turned by ramen. I went for the Yasai Katsu Curry from the vegan main menu which was a satisfying sweet potato and butternut squash alternative to the classic Chicken Katsu and yes, it was perfectly nice.
However, during any visits to Wagamama from here on in, I really can’t see myself straying from the fresh, vibrant bowl full of aromatic spices, hearty flavoursome broth and soft ramen noodles that I’ve been neglecting for so long.
I think the Chilli Squid might be a firm staple though as my other half quite literally cannot get enough of the spicy citrus dipping sauce! For you calamari-lovers out there, she boldly claims that this just might be the very best she’s had.
Completely immersed in the whole experience, I decided to keep things reasonably true to tradition by swapping my usual bottle of mineral water for a Mio Sake – a sparkling version of the classic Japanese Sake rice wine which was sweet, robust and similar to what I imagine the lovechild of prosecco and sherry might be.
The Mio Sake came served in yet more beautiful handmade vessels which allows the carbonated nectar to trickle slowly into your cup, creating a sense of culinary theatre that was definitely there by design, not accident.
As I said in my recent review of The Refuge by Volta restaurant in Manchester’s stunning Principal Hotel – these days, I’m all about multi-sensory food and beverage experiences; dining out that goes beyond great food and a strong cocktail list, so I’m pleased to see it filtering down into highstreet eateries and chain restaurants too.
I was very kindly invited to review Wagamama Liverpool ONE but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.