See how I put the question mark at the end of title… ? That’s called setting the tone.
I don’t really want to spend a lot of time talking about Wagamama, and I think in future I’ll be spending even less time in their restaurants. It was plainly one of the most dismal experiences I have had in a long time.
Now granted I have an issue with chain restaurants and franchises to begin with. I personally think they degrade the entire nature of hospitality, and do not allow for any kind of individuality or creativity. My concept of restaurant perfection is a place that has the freedom to do what they want with the local produce they can source, who have a commitment to quality service and a genuine love of making excellent food. The idea that you can wrap all of that up into a little ball and slap one down wherever you want and have it work, just doesn’t sit well with me.
So Sharon and I headed into Wagamama last Tuesday evening, more because we heard it had opened and wanted to know what all the fuss was about than anything else. We probably should have gone in when the hype was still going on in February when it first opened…. but I’m slow like that.
First off I ordered the duck gyoza. It was dry and crusty, and what was inside could barely be distinguished as duck after dipping it in the hoisin sauce, which completely obliterated any flavour by enveloping it in an overpowering salty tang. Not good.
Sharon ordered the Chilli Beed Ramen… in her opinion, the beef was tough and the soup tasted like chilli flavoured water. Bland and disappointing for a place that compares itself to traditional establishments that have such pride in their food.
The final straw was my teryaki steak soba. A “favourite” according to the menu. It was $17, and whilst mildly tasty, took about 3 minutes in total for me to consume, even though I was consciously pacing myself to try and not finish too soon before Sharon, who was struggling to get through the ramen.
Add to that the fact that it the wine list was a joke (the best wine on their was a Stony Peak Shiraz Cabernet that I have had the pleasure of sampling at many a cheapskate companies “social” function. In a word, nasty), and the water I requested came in a bottle I was charged for without telling me so.
I seriously think it took longer for us to get out of the place, than it did to eat our meal. We were waiting for about 15 minutes while the assorted waiters/waitresses ran around with confused looks on their faces trying to process one groups bill. I was then escorted out to back to another cash register tucked into the hall way between the kitchen and the dining room, surrounded by bins, boxes, and other assorted crap.
So all in all, an unenjoyable experience. For me, Wagamama is what a place would look like if Richard Branson decided to go into the restaurant business. Lots of funky looking people and funky looking menu’s and amicable sounding values about keeping it real and bring you value, and absolutely bugger all content.
Sorry for straying away from my normal style of posting only positive sounding reviews, but really… places like this just get to me… If you like the place, good for you, I guess some people will have better experiences than I did, but if you’re looking for value for money and quality food, this is not the place to go.
Over and out.
9 thoughts on “Wagamama – Positive Eating ?”
Thanks Matt, you’ve saved me wasting my time and money going there. Like you I tend to be a bit dubious when it comes to franchise restaurants but if it’s a cuisine I like I usually give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt. But in this case there are too many things wrong…
Hey CW, I am more than dubious…which is perhaps why I should refrain from saying anything at all, but I’ve been to one too many glossy looking places with no soul in the past. So I don’t want people who are of similar minds to have to go through that too.
Like I said, I’m sure lots of people think the place is great… but it’s just not my kind of place. Ahh, the fine lines of diplomacy are getting trodden on.
I still prefer the one we went to when we were in Sydney, the perth branch just seemed too “souless” and empty which I guess could be because of all the space. The Syd branch was much more cosier and diner-friendly.
That’s exactly how I found…souless. It’s funny how a combination of factors can all add up to either make a dining experience really great, or really bad. Unfortunately I don’t give second chances all that often, so Wagamama lost it for me already :(
hehe good to hear someone else agrees that wagamama is a crap place to eat.
Went to the one in Melbourne last year and was disappointed and when i heard they were coming to Subi i just rolled my eyes. My two minute noodles taste better than their ramen! Overhyped valueless unauthentic japanese meals.
Apparently, the Australian Wagamamas have to stick to 85% of the current London menu. This was told to me by one of their current employees in the Subiaco store.
Hi Joel, is that a good thing or a bad thing ? I assume you mean that because they have to stick to the same menu they can’t vary it to suit the local palate? Kinda sad really because even McDonalds has their ‘local’ specialities. Still I should probably give it another go sometime soon.
Definitely a bad thing. They chuck down endless amounts of Wagamamas (currently scouting about 6 new places in Perth alone) and they don’t even allow the country they invade to be creative with the menu.
I don’t usually do blogs…..but this caught my eye having had the same “Wagamama Experience”….I was tempted there by report from my sister telling me it was THE place for my nieces to go in London for noodles…..I should have realised, it is squarely aimed at the youth/young adult market and offers little if you are looking for good food and service.
Try NAO on Murray St east of the mall if you want good, cheap Ramen. Portions are a bit spartan, but its aimed at the budget Japenese student/traveller, so can be forgiven for the price and service.