An ode to my spiritual mecca
It may have been the reason for my recent breakup (I wanted to go there everyday, he didn’t, I had to end it) but unlike my ex, wags has and will always be there for me. Through the bad times, through the good times, the ugly times – and wherever I am, whoever I’m with, I know I can always rely on it. I don’t know what it is about it. I know it’s ridiculously overpriced and to be honest I have eaten better food and better katsus, I’ve even made a nicer one myself but hey, love works in mysterious ways.
Maybe I’m clinging onto the old days when I was younger and free (sorry Adele always comes out unexpectedly). But seriously, wagamama’s used to be so much better when it first started. It was way cheaper and the food was better – especially the katsu sauce, something changed about five years ago and it’s never been the same since…too much cumin I would say. Trust me, I would know.
But that’s the fucked up thing. Even though I know this, and there are so many new amazing restaurants I could go to…and probably should be going to, despite by best efforts to go anywhere else, going through TimeOut’s best restaurants lists and making concrete plans to actually go to some of them, I still always seem to end up in my beloved Wagamama’s. Let us try to understand why the fuck that is the case.
Even though the katsu sauce isn’t as good as it used to be, the chicken katsu curry is still one of my favourite dishes of all time. If I had to chose one meal to for the rest of my life, it would be the katsu. If I had to chose one dish to be stuck with on a desert island, this would be it. I don’t need to handed a menu when I walk in. Chicken katsu curry, that is the one, that is what I want. 71. Number 71. “Can I order straight away?” “Yeah let me just get someone to take your order.” Ugh, I don’t want to wait a second longer.
The communal vibe
It doesn’t matter if you’re Boris Johnson, Howard Moon (I have seen both of these in my local Wagamama’s, by the way – the Angel branch if you were wondering) or a pauper student like me. In here, everyone is equal. The long rows of benches make you feel like you’re just having a meal with friends, sharing the katsu-experience with all these other beautiful souls, feeling their energies through the bench. It forces you to forget everything you know about awkward English behaviour and helps break down the social norms we’re used to. I actually spoke to one of the waiters the other day and he said Wagamama’s is unlike most restaurants and it like a big family – so many of the regulars he has known for years (yes, guilty as charged) and he loves seeing them come back again and again – he said he has even seen one of his regulars grow from a teenager to a father. Truly heartwarming.
This brings me onto the waiters, who are definitely one of the best parts of Waga’s. They are natural artistes, drawing the dish numbers on your placemat in a Picasso-esque fashion and sit next to you as if you’ve known them for years (to be fair, I have actually known some of them for years.
The free green tea
It’s free. It’s green tea. I don’t really need to expand on this. Just think of the antioxidants you’re not paying for. Did I mention it was free of charge?
This is probably the best part. Anywhere you go, whatever city you’re in you know that you can go to Wagamama’s, share a bench with a stranger, be greeted by the friendly foreign waiters and as long as you keep sippin’ on that green tea, all will be ok in the end. It just makes you feel so safe.
The sauce will always be the sauce.