Up until, say, the last twelve months or so, Wagamama was never really on my radar. I’d been, I’d enjoyed it but it just never really shot out of my mental filing system of one my go-to restaurants when looking for somewhere to eat. I’m not sure why… perhaps I was guilty of turning my nose up to a chain eatery when there is such fantastic independent Asian fusion food all around me.
After a trip to the Wagamama in Liverpool ONE at the end of last year to check out its brand new facelift though, it’s safe to say I had my eye wiped. I instantly warmed to its spirited and authentic atmosphere and fell a*se over t*t in love with a cod ramen. So much so, that it inspired many a return visit and a whole entire blog post dedicated to the history of ramen.
I was back at Wagamama again a couple of weeks back but this time the one in Spinningfields, Manchester and this time, not for cod ramen. This time, I was diving head-first into the new summer Wagamama food menu, which includes the notorious Chicken Katsu Curry stripped bare and an innovative edible invention going by the name of ‘The Vegan Egg‘.
But first, let’s talk about:
Wagamama, Spinningfields, Manchester
I’d actually say that visiting Wagamama Liverpool ONE and Wagamama Spinningfields is a great way to get a surface-level insight into the difference between the two cities. Not that this is comparison review at all – just that it’s interesting to see how regional identities can be reflected so differently in the very same franchise.
While Liverpool is loud, lively and charmingly chaotic, Manchester is more polished, cosmopolitan and sophisticated. Neither is right nor wrong, just a matter of personal preference. Here, the venue is slick, urban and obviously modern with a trendy vibe and uber cool atmos to match.
Don’t get me wrong though, I rocked up here in my bogus Fruit of the Loom x Chanel t-shirt and battered old Vans with laces you would never have known were once white and felt right at home. Although it’s cool, calm and collected, it certainly doesn’t lack in that magnetic hospitality we all know and love about Waga’.
Our waitress was an absolute diamond too. The kind of person you wish you could leave a note on the table to as you leave saying ‘hey, can we be best mates please?’
Healthy Katsu Curry & The Vegan Egg recipe
Now, as I said earlier, I had been very kindly invited along to Wagamama to get to grips with their summer offering. While it took all of my might not to just order the cod ramen for the millionth time this year, I knew I had some intrepid menu exploring to do.
The current menu features dishes all made using fresh, seasonal ingredients that tore my temptation this way and that. However, I noticed the Naked Katsu Curry on the menu and with the classic breaded Chicken Katsu Curry with sticky white rice arguably being Wagamama’s most iconic dish, I just had to see this for myself.
Basically, it comes as a bowl of seasoned chicken breast pieces (sans coating) and various healthy embellishments like edamame and grated carrot with the katsu curry sauce served on the side (presumably for portion control). It was okay, nothing really to write home about. It filled a hole, the chicken was tender, the veg was fresh, the sauce had the katsu flavour you’d expect and came in at under 500 kcals but it was just a bit…dare I say… boring?
The new Cod Mokutan Soba teppanyaki dish, however, was a whole other kettle of fish. Literally.
The Cod Mokutan Soba is a big ol’ bowl of black charcoal soba noodles with soy sauce, miso-glazed cod fillets and a whole rainbow of technicolour stir-fried vegetables. I guess it’s not too dissimilar from the miso cod ramen I keep harping on about but instead of a broth, the dish is drizzled in sweet miso dressing and garnished with ginger and coriander.
This was my knockout plate of the evening and something I’m chomping at the bit to go back for again. The noodles were super smokey; you could definitely taste the charcoal on them, the fish was sweet and tender, and the dressing provided the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Raving reviews from me and my partner in dine on that one.
Where we were split down the middle was when it came to sampling ‘The Vegan Egg’. This innovative ingredient has been introduced as part of the Avant Gard’n Kokoro Bowl made in collaboration with Instagram-famous chef, Gaz Oakley who invented this particular
So, let’s get straight to the point: my dad quite liked it, I absolutely did not. I was incredibly impressed by how realistic it looked and I am 100% sold on the whole narrative behind it but the taste and texture just weren’t for me. Apparently the white is largely made up of coconut flour and the orange yolk is a sriracha sauce – this combination of flavours kind of made it too close to a savoury coconut cheesecake for me.
Although, I have no doubt it might have been more enjoyable as part of the whole dish, rather than just sampling off a spoon. Perhaps I’ll go back again and give it another CRACK (sorry) of the whip.
I was very kindly invited to review Wagamama but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.