Wagamama – Positive Eating ?


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.

Duck Gyoza with Hoisin

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.

Chilli Beef Ramen

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.

Teryaki Steak Soba

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.